How to Build and Grow your Personal Brand
There have been lots of significant changes in the professional jobs market over the last few years. One of the most visible changes has been the rise in personal branding and the image that you’re able to portray about yourself in the market through astute use of social media and / or blogging.
We’re seeing a growing number of professionals looking to create a personal brand to help them have more of an impact within their industry. Similar to a company brand, your personal brand is a combination of what you reveal about yourself and what others associate you with.
Since you already have a personal brand, it makes sense to consciously manage this and use it to maximize your appeal to a potential employer. This article will share some ideas on how to do that.
- Have a purpose
Everyone will have their individual reasons for working on their personal brand, but if you are looking to use it to help progress your career, one important goal will be to create a positive impact on prospective employers.
The more specific and clearly defined your goals are, the easier it will be for you to focus your personal brand on being powerful, relevant and consistent. For example, whenever you post content online, share a social media post or prepare a presentation, you will be able to easily answer the questions: is this consistent with my goals and purpose? Is this likely to help or hinder me in reaching my goals?
- Define your uniqueness and values
To build a personal brand you need to focus on what makes you stand out from others. This includes both what you do and – more importantly – how you do it. If you are in a crowded sector, think of ways you can stand out. What do you want to be known for? What areas of expertise do you want people to associate you with? What impression do you want to create about your personality and professionalism? There’s no one right answer, but try to create for yourself a niche persona and area of expertise within your market sector.
Once you’ve covered the ‘what’, you can switch focus to the ‘how.’ How are you going to convey your expertise? How are you going to make your personality shine through? What media will you use, where do you want to be most visible, what types of activities will you feel most comfortable building into your routine? You might tweet, blog, post on LinkedIn, host a podcast, run a webinar series, broadcast live videos. The options are so broad now that you have to decide on the areas where you are going to focus your efforts. When choosing what’s right for you, keep in mind that your personal qualities and values will be what inspires trust in you as a brand. So choose things that allow you to convey these – as well as your professional expertise.
- Define your audience
There is no such thing as a brand which appeals to all audiences. The sooner you can identify who your target audience is, the sooner you will be able to craft your messages to have maximum impact.
As well as getting to know the demographics of your audience, you should find out what their pain points are. By helping your target audience to discover solutions to their problems, overcome challenges and become more informed about matters relevant to their professional goals, you can proactively grow your brand with the exact demographic of people you most want to impress.
Think about the sector you work in, or the functional expertise you have. What are the main challenges that people in your field are seeking to address right now? What market trends are they most concerned about? What topics are they most anxious to seek informed opinions about? Build your personal brand around sharing insights on these issues and opportunities and you will have taken a big step towards being noticed in a favourable light.
- Demonstrate your strengths and skills
It is of course common practice for employers today to use online platforms – most notably LinkedIn – to search for candidates and try to uncover more information about them. Here is where you can really be proactive by incorporating your unique skills and strengths into your personal brand offering – and strengthening your appeal by developing your USP.
To create a strong Unique Selling Proposition for yourself, focus on communicating how you have added value in your previous roles. Make it easier for prospective employers to understand how you could be the solution to their problems and to quantify the impact you might have on their business.
- Craft your message
One of the most powerful actions you can take while developing your personal brand is to create an ‘elevator pitch.’ This is a short message which sums up what you are about and why companies should be interested in you. One famous example of a punchy elevator pitch outside of the world of work was the three-word phrase, ‘Jaws in space,’ to describe what the film Alien was about.
To perfect this, imagine that a recruiter is on the phone to a Head of Department within their business. In just 15-20 seconds they are justifying why they have chosen to invite various candidates in for interview. If that person had to justify why they were inviting you in for interview, what would you want them to say about you? What facts, figures, brand names and achievements would you want to include to maximize your appeal. These are the things you want to put into your ‘elevator pitch’ – which we’d then recommend making the summary section on your LinkedIn profile, so that the first impression you create when people find you online is as compelling as possible.
Beyond this, what else might you do? Well top influencers often have their own blog, with some even going as far as registering their full name as a website domain. Others focus on having a strong social media presence. However you decide to brand yourself online, you should aim for consistency across all of your platforms (e.g. use the same or similar Facebook page name, Twitter handle, blog title, etc.)
Above all, always ensure every message is in keeping with your goals and values identified earlier. Inconsistency is the quickest way to destroy trust and dilute your brand.
- Never stop growing
Unlike writing a resume, building a personal brand is not a task you carry out once and then leave until something changes.
Whether it is writing a blog post, curating social media content to share, speaking at an industry conference or talking to people at a networking event, you should always be looking to grow and reinforce your personal brand. Get this right and you may even reach a tipping point where people (even strangers) start inviting you to attend events, be quoted in articles or share your expert opinion at an event they are hosting.
One final quick tip
As we said in our introductory remarks, you already have a personal brand, whether you want one or not! To get an idea of what that is, simply open up an incognito or private browser window and type your full name into Google (try this with and without quotes). The results will give you an instant idea of what your current brand looks like – and areas to prioritize working on so as to reorient your personal brand as quickly as possible in the direction you’d like to take it. Good luck!
At FPC National, we take great pride in helping people find great new opportunities. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.