With that much potential, why wouldn't every entrepreneur have a personal brand?
Honestly, many people may not even think about it--let alone consciously work towards it. Maybe you don't think it matters until you're looking for that next promotion, a new job, a career change.
In 2018, that's a mistake.
We live in a digital age. Your online personal brand is the best way for people to find you and learn your abilities.
Your LinkedIn, social media channels, website, blog--everything that shows up when someone searches your name has a tremendous impact on the opportunities that come your way.
1. It sets you apart.
The reality is, people do judge books by their covers. Your personal brand is the "cover" people judge you by online.
I often connect with people I meet at conferences on LinkedIn. Every so often, I can't find someone online and wonder if they really exist. Only joking. But how can these people expect follow-up business if others can't easily reach out?
If you're easy to find online, it says a lot about you. You've taken the time to present yourself to the world and the people who search for you. You pay attention to details.
There's always going to be someone else doing the same thing as you. A strong personal brand gives people a reason to choose you over your competition.
2. It shows thoughtfulness.
Your personal brand can be a double-edged sword if you aren't careful. Just think about all the posts you've seen on Facebook. Everyone has a friend who's constantly sharing rants, negativity, or self-pitying posts.
Rants and angry posts should be in-person conversations. They shouldn't be commemorated forever online and tied to your name. Negativity absolutely affects your brand.
Personally, that's not the type of person I want to work with. I wouldn't trust that person for a project, especially if there's another candidate who seems to have their act together.
Always ask yourself before posting: Would you want a potential client to see this?
3. It strikes a balance.
Be yourself, but be professional. Many young professionals post frequently without giving it much thought. But finding a balance is essential.
I didn't use social media much when I was younger. It wasn't really a thing yet. I was also significantly younger than the people I worked with at my first job. I was wary of posting things most people do--having a drink over the weekend, hanging out with friends, pictures of food--it just didn't seem professional to me.
I started getting feedback from people. They felt like they didn't know me and couldn't connect. My personal brand wasn't personal at all. So, gradually, I began to let my personality shine through.
I erred on the side of caution, which was still too far on one end of the spectrum. Eventually, I found the personal/professional balance that makes my brand and business so successful today.
4. It keeps you relevant.
A brand lets you choose what the world knows about you and highlights your achievements.
Keeping your website, blog, and social channels up-to-date is a chance to show people your latest projects, most recent accomplishments, and what you're currently working on. It shares your growth and progression, and it's an important part of maintaining a strong personal brand.
What do you want to achieve as the next step in your career? What would help you get there?
This can be as simple as selecting a topic that's relevant to your industry and publishing your own post on LinkedIn. Showcase your expertise and recap your experience. One step further would be to create your own blog or website.
You can also build an online portfolio that highlights who you are, what you do, and what you know. This alone will set you apart from the crowd.
5. It's a self-assessment.
If you're reading this, and you don't have a personal brand or it's not updated, now is the time to start working on it.
First, Google yourself. Find out where you stand. If you like what comes up, build on that. Start with a professional headshot. If you take yourself seriously, so will others.
If you don't like what you see, remove old content. Build the image you want people to see and make sure it properly reflects your knowledge.
While can't promise you'll travel the world if you build a strong personal brand, I can promise you're missing out on professional opportunities without one.