Today, building a personal brand is more important than ever. This reality was brought home to me last year when I read about Gannet’s “Newsroom of the Future.” Not only does this future encourage journalists to learn to use social media and build a following, but Gannet was also offering trainings for journalists so that they could begin building personal brands. If the newspaper industry is heading this direction, you can bet that this has been necessary for a while.
Whether you work for someone else or whether you have your own company, a personal brand matters. For entrepreneurs, building a personal brand is especially important because there is a good chance that you will need an identity separate from your business if you want to move on to the next thing. For solopreneurs who base their entire careers around who they are and what they do, a personal brand is more than just especially important — it’s vital.
Having a personal brand in place is vital in a world where the average worker remains at a job for less than five years. When you are ready to move on to a new job, or find a new gig or start a new company, you need to have a brand that you can build on. That means you need to work to build your personal brand now.
Establish What You Know and What You Do
The first thing to do as you build your personal brand is to determine what you know, what you do and who you are. Understanding yourself, and being able to define what you do is essential if you want to stand out. You can’t be too general in what you do, or you won’t be able to distinguish yourself from the hundreds of other “social media marketers” or “technology specialists” out there.
Drill down to the essentials. What is your true area of expertise? What do you excel at? That’s where you start. It might feel limiting to put yourself in a niche, but specialization can be key if you want to show where you fit, whether you are looking for a new job, or whether you are a freelancer looking for the next gig.
Put Together Your Online Profiles
Next, establish your online profiles. Most of your personal branding work is likely to be done online. Create consistent profiles that show who you are and allow you to showcase your expertise can help you establish your brand. You should engage with followers and post regularly on these networks, sharing your insights and demonstrating what you can do. When you have a solid online presence, it makes you easier to find.
As part of your effort, consider starting a blog, podcast or create videos. Make sure that your content is consistent with the brand you are building. You can share on social media, and use appropriate keywords to make it easier for others to find you. Just as a small business can compete with larger brands, it’s possible for your personal brand to be visible among all the other personal brands out there. Your online profile is a big part of that, so make sure it reflects you and your abilities.
Get Out There in the Offline World
While it’s a good idea to build your personal brand online, you also need to establish it offline. Make it a point to attend networking events. Speak at events and arrange seminars. One of the things I’ve been doing the last couple of years is participating more at FinCon by speaking. I am also more involved in my local community, using it as a way to network. While you can accomplish a lot online, you also need to get offline in order to make more lasting connections.
As you build your personal brand, make sure that you are consistent in all things. You should be recognizable offline as well as online, and from profile to profile. If others don’t know who you are and what you do, your branding effort won’t yield the results you want.