You've perhaps heard a lot about branding a business, but how much time have you invested in building your personal brand? Just like a business' brand helps form that company's identity, your personal brand is part of how you market yourself. It can encompass everything from your experiences to your beliefs. And, when it's done well, your brand can help you snag good employees and clients.
Even if you're not a thought leader or "influencer," or haven't put much thought into your personal branding, you can improve it using these six methods.
1. Think about who you are.
To get to the heart of your personal brand, take a step back and think about who you are as a person. Consider your achievements, talents, interests, career goals, and what motivates you in your professional and personal life. These elements help make up a strong personal brand, and as you develop that brand you'll want to find ways to include materials that represent each of those qualities.
2. Do a social media and website audit.
To improve your personal branding, start by auditing your social media profiles and website pages. If you're looking to find more clients as a small business owner, now is the time to remove any materials from your online presence that you don't want clients to see. I've talked to professionals over the years who take inappropriate tweets or blog posts into account when deciding on which vendor to work with. See what shows up when you do a Google search of yourself. Take some time to double-check the permissions and security settings of your accounts, too, so you know just who can see your posts.
Next, review the content on all of your online platforms to make sure your personal brand is consistent. Perhaps it's a high priority for you to convey a personable, professional image. Be sure your social platforms and website pages show that brand to visitors. They should highlight your recent achievements, skill set, and relevant projects you've worked on.
3. Be yourself and show what you're passionate about.
With a personal brand, you can truly be yourself, so you don't have to go out and find new causes to support or activities to build your company brand. Think about some real life qualities and interests that make you unique and then show off those qualities.
Maybe you were a marketing professional before you started your business, and also a talented juggler with the goal of visiting all 50 states by the time you're 40. While a job candidate or client might be most interested in your entrepreneurial endeavors, your juggling talents and travel goals make you unique and instantly help you stand out from other prospective employers or vendors. Many feel that even if some of the qualities of a potential employer or vendor feel a little silly or unrelated to work, they can help personalize the company and make it more alluring.
4. Make valuable connections.
When networking, use your own brand to establish valuable connections. If you're networking in person, elements of your brand can make for natural conversation starters and talking points.
While you should be sure to try to focus conversation on the other person so that they feel valued and understood, discuss some of your hobbies or interests outside of your company, too. This can make the conversation more engaging and help your new connections or potential clients remember you.
The same is true of networking via social media. If you ask to connect with someone on LinkedIn, include a personal message that incorporates a bit of your personal branding. Introducing yourself as a founder who specializes in software and loves skiing is more compelling than introducing yourself only as a founder. This personal brand angle immediately sets the tone for the conversation and may even identify something that you and your new connection have in common outside of work.
5. Build your reputation offline.
While your online brand is obviously vital, don't forget to devote time to your offline personal brand, too. Volunteering in the community, sitting on the board of directors of a nonprofit, or mentoring up-and-coming professionals are all admirable ways to contribute to causes you care about while building your brand.
6. Be authentic.
When it comes to improving your own personal brand, it can be tempting to talk up your achievements and even inflate your image. Doing this could help attract clients, but they might not be a great fit for your company, or what you can actually deliver as a vendor. Instead, stay honest about what makes you, you.
If you're planning to hire new team members, take on new clients, or just want the public at large to know more about your company, investing some time in your personal branding is a wise move. The better you know your brand and include these branding aspects in your social media and website pages, the greater chance you'll stand out to prospective employees.