Whether you’re climbing a company corporate ladder or building a business of your own, personal branding is critical. The same way huge businesses invest in their branding, you must invest in branding the business of YOU, because – guess what? YOU are a brand.
You may not think of yourself as the golden arches of McDonald’s or the Nike swoosh, but you’re unique. Your image and reputation distinguish you from others. The key is to build your brand and leverage it effectively.
Personal branding is the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others. Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
So, what are they saying about you?
Believe it or not, in the business world, what people think about you is important. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 42 percent of respondents said they’ve Googled someone before doing business with them. People are researching to find out what’s being said about you online. Eighty-five percent of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals report an employee’s online reputation influences their hiring decisions to some extent.
When a recruiter or prospective client searches online, what will they find about you?
Use the five steps below to ensure your personal brand is strong, positive, and representative of who you are:
Create your brand identity
This involves clearly articulating and presenting who you are. Ask yourself: how do you want to be perceived? What skills and experience do you have? What are your top personality traits? What is your personal style? What are your values? Write them down. These are your operating principles and the foundation of your brand. Make sure you’re living out your values.
Develop your brand image
How you present yourself – your personal image – is a key component of your brand. How you look and what you wear are important; your personal dress code should align with your brand. Oprah and Kim Kardashian have well-known brands, and how they dress is vastly different. Remember to be yourself. Your brand image is yours and yours alone.
Present professional branding assets
Your most important branding assets are your head shot and bio. Your head shot is a high-quality close-up photograph of your head and upper torso. It should be current (not a picture of you 10 years ago and 20 pounds lighter), accurately reflect you, and depict your brand. Bonus tip: Smile showing teeth, which studies show is more likeable than a closed-mouth smile.
In your professional biography, you can talk about yourself and not look like an egomaniac. Use it on your personal or business website, on a blog, in proposals, and on your social media profiles. To maximize your bio for branding, include a compelling story with turning points in your life/career or experiences that have led you to where you are now. Remember that your bio isn’t a resume, but rather a narrative highlighting your experience and accomplishments.
Showcase your strengths and expertise
You’re likely good at what you do or an expert in your field. To strengthen your personal brand, highlight your knowledge and expertise by branding with content. Contribute to blogs, publications, and podcasts. Speak at events. If you’re on a panel of industry experts, you’re seen as highly knowledgeable, which adds to your brand credibility.
Build your online presence
In this digital age where instantaneous information is at our fingertips, having a strong online presence is paramount. Your social media profiles should be complete and reflect your brand. Of the social platforms, you should leverage LinkedIn, “The world’s largest professional network.” It has over 562 million users, and it’s a platform your brand should shine on. Make sure you have a powerful headline and an informative summary.
It’s equally important to audit and manage what appears about you online. Consider setting up a Google alert so you’ll receive an email when your name is mentioned online. Remember: you are a brand and you control how you’re presented.
Joan B. Stanford transforms the way business owners and entrepreneurs think about using words to market their businesses. As the award-winning CEO of Jazzy Pen Communications, a marketing communications firm specializing in content marketing, Joan works with busy entrepreneurs to build their brands and craft content to attract their ideal customers. For more information, visit www.jazzypen.com or www.luminaryspeakers.com.