Have you ever thought about building a personal brand? Believe it or not, you have already started expressing your brand to others just by being yourself.
There are several ways to show others your personal brand, from how you dress, hold yourself and speak, to your online presence and activities.
When it comes to networking and career paths, having a personal brand can be your best asset when new opportunities arise.
If people can immediately describe you as a person, it can become a helpful tool to be a step ahead of other candidates.
Personal branding can be a challenging task, but when done right, it will become a positive habit added to your lifestyle.
Before you begin building your personal brand, let’s go through the basic steps to ensure your personal brand is strong.
What is personal branding?
The word ‘brand’ can commonly be associated with a business. However, people naturally self-brand through how they present themselves and their actions.
A strong personal brand typically can:
- Organically market who you are and increase your awareness of who you are to others.
- Be identified by how someone else describes you as a person. Think of it as what people say about you.
- Help you stand out from the crowd and potentially create positive career opportunities for you.
- Make you appear unique, authentic and trustworthy in both personal and professional settings.
Entrepreneur.com states, “Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the brand’s social media channels”. If this tactic was used for personal branding, who knows what type of reach can happen if others are re-sharing your brand.
Why should I build a personal brand?
So, is building a personal brand worth it?
If you are already expressing your personal brand, why should you work on it? Allowing your personal brand to evolve and improve is the key to ensuring you are putting your best foot forward.
Take charge of your identity.
When you start to build a personal brand, it allows you to take control over how others perceive you. It allows you to build trust with prospective employers or like-minded people.
Since a good personal brand will also highlight your skills and what you offer, it could eventually help you network and lead to new opportunities.
It’s about authenticity and being your best self. When you’re willing to unapologetically fully embody your brand, you avoid feeling like you are putting on a show, therefore finding true satisfaction in delivering your best work.
Build your online presence.
Personal branding is not only done by face-to-face interaction, but you can also deliver your personal brand through how you present yourself online.
In 2018, CareerBuilder conducted a survey, which showed ‘70% of employers screen candidates by checking their social media, and 43% use it to check on current workers.’
Showing the importance of having a strong and consistent online presence provides people with a visual insight into who you are and what are your interests.
Highlight and grow your skillset.
Whether you are a part of a business or an entrepreneur, it is important to connect with your audience through an honest description of who you are and what you are good at.
Strong brands earn more for the differentiated value they offer. Therefore, providing a great opportunity for you to take control of your career and increase your confidence in what you do best.
At the end of the day, people pay for strong brands, so why should it be any different for personal brands?
Connect with other like-minded people.
Being vulnerable to those around you about who you are and what you can do will gain the respect of others.
You will leave people wanting to know more about you while attracting the people and opportunities you need to be able to achieve your goals.
When done right, you can become well known among the people you have collaborated with. Over time, you may build a following of like-minded people who support you as they share similar goals and values.
These people have the potential to advocate your brand in the future, providing positive word-of-mouth on your activities, accomplishments and personable skills.
With all of this in mind, let’s dive into how you can start building a powerful personal brand.
How to Build a Personal Brand in 5 Easy Steps
It’s time to look inwards to define characteristics about yourself, what your strengths are and what you want to portray to others around you.
Developing a great personal brand will not happen overnight. It’s important to be genuine to your audience in the ways you communicate your purpose and goals.
There are several personal branding strategies. however, it is always good to keep mindful to be unique, and genuine and show pride in what you do.
1. Identify your brand.
Imagine you own a brick-and-mortar store selling your favourite products. What would that look like? Some points to think about could be what the colour scheme would be? What are the items you would sell? Even the type of music you would play.
This method of focusing on the things you like is a good start to identifying your personal brand. A personal brand should show others a genuine portrayal of your identity and personality.
Some points you should be thinking about when identifying your personal brand include:
- How will you express your values to others?
- Who is your audience and who would you like your audience to be?
- What is your purpose for your personal branding strategy?
- What are your passions?
- What areas do you excel in?
- What is your content style?
- What tone is your narrative?
- How will you communicate with your audience?
- What impact do you want to have and what is your desired career path?
Let others help you.
Now you are starting to get an idea of your personal brand, it is also important to be mindful if there is anything you want to improve about yourself.
A great way to identify things you want to improve on is by looking at who inspires you. Who do you find a connection with and why?
People who inspire you may be people you know or see in the media. Generally, people connect with others based on similarities in values and sometimes look to someone as a mentor for self-development.
Having a mentor is a great way to fast-track your development and personal branding. They will provide an example and guidance of characteristics you are working on for yourself.
Online courses, self-help publications and webinars are also some great resources to start gaining more knowledge and learning new skills.
It is also important to continually be mindful of your goals and purpose of developing your personal brand.
Are you wanting to build your personal brand to open career opportunities and grow your network?
Whatever your reasoning, a strong brand will align with your goal and potentially get you in contact with like-minded people with similar goals.
2. Define your unique value proposition and find your audience.
Defining what makes you different from everyone else is a critical part of building your brand. Identifying your value proposition will involve asking yourself what you bring to the table and who is going to like it.
Building your own personal brand will rely on your unique value proposition, therefore you will need to look at your strengths and what are the things you want to improve on.
Another way to look at it is to focus on your key message; if you could describe yourself in one sentence, what would that be?
Finding your value proposition:
Finding your strengths can sometimes be challenging. However, in the end, you might learn a few things you didn’t realise you were good at.
- Think about what skills you have now. It may help to start with your experience and the skills you have from this.
- Create a document and outline your experiences, skills, favourite activities, etc. You could even create a map of your ideal career path.
- Write a list of any unique skills you have. This may include where two skills crossover that isn’t typically utilised together but can be beneficial to others.
Once you have your values:
- Find skills you may wish to develop to strengthen your personal brand or move you along your career pathway.
- Explore different audiences who may find your value interesting or valuable.
- Start to talk to people about your experiences, skills and what value you bring.
It’s easier said than done to talk about your strengths with others. But it is always good to be mindful about how you deliver what you say to others. Reading a room and finding appropriate times to tell people your strengths can be an important factor for positive results.
Same with gaining information about skills you wish to improve on. Having a meaningful conversation with people about skills you wish to improve may spark an idea or an easier way on how you can develop these skills for yourself.
By doing so you will unconsciously attract like-minded people who are providing you with free advice for self-development.
Finding your target audience:
There are several tactics you can take to reach your target audience.
It might be instinct to think if you want a large following, you should appeal to a larger audience. This idea can work for some people; however, you might find yourself going down a route of acting on trending characteristics rather than being yourself.
As an individual, you are unique, so it would be assumed that your personal brand will also be unique.
Plus, you have worked so hard on thinking about your strengths, you might as well use them!
Your brand will be an extension of yourself, and a lot of people relate more with unique characteristics, as it can be exciting and leave people wanting more.
Who would you like your brand to appeal to? There are many activities you can do to find your target audience, however, an effective way to start the process is by defining who these people are.
Segmenting the market is a way to identify the demographic for your desired target audience. A popular method to identify your target audience is by developing a customer persona.
Then going back to your value proposition, the next task will be to think about if your desired target demographic will endorse your value proposition.
People who you want to endorse your value proposition may include people who you idolise in a working environment, friends and family.
3. Optimise your online presence.
Having an online presence is critical to reaching and attracting a wider audience. Luckily, there are plenty of platforms to help you do so.
For starters, having a personal website can be a great tool for those who need to present their work to others. For example, if you are an artist and graphic designer, a website presents your designs in a way that you would want your work to be showcased.
Websites are also a great tool for writers who want to share their own blog posts and write articles to build up a portfolio that is ready at a moment’s notice.
If you already have an eCommerce website for your own business, it is always good to do a ‘team’ or ‘about us’ page. These pages are great for uploading a professional headshot and writing a description about yourself and others in your business. Providing more information about yourself on your website can connect your audience with you and your brand.
However, if you feel that a website might not suit your line of work, there are several social media platforms that can be used to grow your online presence.
Some of the popular platforms to choose from include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and even TikTok.
Having an online presence does not mean you have to be on every social media platform. It is recommended to only pick a handful of platforms that match the type of content you want to produce.
Whichever platform you choose, having a LinkedIn profile is an effortless way to showcase your personal brand in a professional setting.
LinkedIn has released that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn to research and recruit candidates, allowing the platform to be a perfect space to widen your professional network and open new opportunities.
Benefits of setting up a LinkedIn Profile include:
- Gain exposure to potential recruiters.
- Demonstrate your skillset, credibility and experience.
- Access research tools to see available jobs, events and networking groups.
- Turn your feed into a social portfolio of your recent achievements.
- Stay up to date with your favourite professionals and company’s activities.
4. Develop your content strategy.
When it comes to posting content for personal branding, even people from different industries can have a similar strategy.
Social media platforms are great tools for getting content out to your audience. Some useful platforms for promoting your personal brand include:
- Facebook: Largest social media site, good for communicating with a larger audience, connecting with community groups, and messaging people directly.
- Instagram: Provides your audience with visuals that can be a day in the life or any updates.
- LinkedIn: Good for updating your network about upskilling, career and community activities.
- Twitter: A casual platform to post blogs, news or any public relations (PR) pieces.
- TikTok: Provides the ability to relate with your audience through organic content.
You might already use some of these platforms or have an idea of the platforms you want to use. However, it is always good to double-check if the platform you like will highlight your skills to your desired audience.
Using multiple social media platforms doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking a more relaxed approach can work better than having an intricate 5-year plan where you need to spend a ton of money on sponsored posts.
Keep in mind, your strategy will be like any commercial or corporate brand in terms of having goals and targets you want to achieve.
Things to think about when it comes to your content marketing plan include:
- Ensuring your content marketing has a purpose. For example, create content you would want to see, also demonstrating your industry expertise.
- Look at your strategy as a networking exercise.
- Connect your strategy with your goals.
- Think outside the box on what content you would like to produce (podcasts, writing articles, posting videos etc.).
- If you are not feeling creative, search trending posts and videos to spark creativity. However, try putting your unique spin on trending content to captivate your audience.
Make sure to check out Top Social Media Trends of 2022 to Try This Year for some great ideas to get your strategy started.
Remember, it is perfectly normal if some of your content takes a while to reach your audience. So, make sure to keep posting! A strong personal brand will create real fans that stick, rather than implosive followers that may unfollow you in the near future.
5. Grow your following.
Building a following can be like building a community. However, it can be luck of the draw how long it takes to find your people.
Growing a following will help you by:
- Demonstrating trust in what you do.
- Gain different perspectives on topics, especially through asking questions.
- Gain word-of-mouth publicity.
To build your following:
- Get involved in physical and online activities, like joining Facebook and LinkedIn groups, attending networking events and conferences, and more.
- Connect with others in your field, specialisation or target audience.
- Engage with those in your field, specialisation or your target audience, including sharing your insight on their posts or sharing relevant pieces they share themselves relevant to your own personal brand.
- Give back to your audience by sharing through posts, blogs, etc.