Some people hear the words “personal branding” and their skin crawls with the thought of Instagram influencers or LinkedIn gurus. But the truth is that crafting a personal brand is not something that belongs exclusively to social media stars.
Personal branding happens when your name is instantly associated with a specific thing or subject. What are you known for? What do people seek you for? Your reputation in the workplace can help you unlock opportunities and move your career forward.
We are here to help you create your personal branding strategy with 5 simple steps:
Step 1: Be true with who you are and lead with authenticity
Self-awareness is critical to start thinking about your personal branding plan. Before anything else, you need to ask yourself some important questions that will help you define your brand identity:
- What fuels me?
- What do I want to know more professionally about?
- What skills do I have?
- What would I love to be known for?
- Which are the things I value the most in a work setting?
- What impact do I want to make with my work?
- What are my personal values in life?
It’s okay not to have an answer to all of them. You are beginning to define your brand personality and crafting that image is something that takes place over time.
It can be helpful to also ask for input from people whose opinions you do value. They can help you become aware of parts of yourself that you may not pay attention to, and this can be important to create a fuller and more vivid picture of what makes you, well, you!
“Your personal brand is a way to share knowledge and gain recognition in the professional community. Usually, the personal brand has an impact and speeds up problem-solving. Also, it is easier for you to solve issues at work when you have a good reputation in your field. As an HR professional, I also believe that having a strong personal helps in finding the best people for the team.” – Irina, Senior HR Business Partner
Step 2: Figure out your unique selling point
In order to build a strong personal brand, one needs to figure out what steps them apart from everyone else out there. Knowing your strengths is half the battle. What are you an expert in? What differentiates you from other voices in the field you excel in? These are some helpful questions that help you get started on creating your unique selling point.
The next thing you have to do is define how you can turn these characteristics and achievements into your personal brand. Anyone can come up with a list of things of highlights. But that’s not enough for your voice to not be lost among all others.
You need a story.
Your unique, well-crafted, personal story.
That narrative will be your unique selling point. People don’t want just to hear about what skills you have, and they won’t be solely inspired by your accomplishments. What they want is your story, the personal tale that combines your career path, your expertise and, last but not the least, your personality.
This can be done by showing instances where your knowledge was applied to specific situations at work and why that was important. What have you learned from your experiences? How does your current job reflect the evolution from your early years?
Quick note: don’t forget to display a bit of who you are as a person. While there are many people out there with the same set of hard skills as you, they may not share the same soft skills. This can be a key element in crafting your unique brand amongst your peers.
“1. Start with self-knowledge and skills you have and are passionate about.
2. Discover your target audience.
3. Work on your personality. Some people are joyful, others are very serious and few have a rare combination of these traits. If you can, work on developing a good mix of these traits.” – Aelafsged, Software Developer
Step 3: Define who you is your target audience
Trying to appeal to everyone will most likely lead you to appeal to no one in particular. It’s essential that you understand who you want to reach.
Start from a broad category that you are interested in and work your way in order to narrow it to a specific niche you want to thrive in. If you are a software engineer, perhaps you wish to be a leading voice in a specific coding language. Or if you are a marketeer, you may want to stop being known as a generalist digital marketeer and become renowned for the category of e-mail marketing.
After understanding what you want to be seen as an expert in, it becomes easier to decide who may be your audience. Ask yourself: who can benefit from what I have to share? What kind of professionals can be helped with my knowledge?
“First: it is important to select and focus on the things you love to do in your spare time.
Second: select the activities that can be useful/interesting for a specific audience in which you want to gain credibility. These activities would represent your image/brand.
Third: select your channels (online or offline) that your audience is in and make an editorial schedule to build your presence there.” – Oleg, Design Team Lead
Step 4: Build your digital presence
Your personal brand is not complete if people don’t know where to find you. A digital presence in social media is critical to help you establish your name and reach out to your desired audience.
Before creating accounts on all social media platforms under the sun, think first about where your personal brand belongs and where is your audience. Select social media channels that make sense for your area of expertise and where you can reach the most of your would-be followers.
Start with one or two social networks and be consistent on them both in quantity and quality. This way you can begin to establish a base with your audience and build trust in who you are and what they can expect from you.
Besides social media, it can also help you to have a personal website. Depending on your professional area, this can be important to help you establish credibility and authority.
“Reputation does not come only from your knowledge but also from how good you are at sharing that knowledge with those you work with. Do colleagues listen to you? Do they want to create projects with you? How do you communicate results to your team? How do you deal with feedback? All these questions can help you point in the direction of your personal brand. In short: how others see you. My advice is to start thinking about which soft skills can help you strengthen your position because it all starts there. Strong soft skills are the basis for reputation and the starting point in defining your own personal work style.” – Marina, Head of Employer Brand & Internal Communications
Step 5: Create a content strategy
Becoming a trusted authority in your field does not happen overnight. One of the critical aspects in developing a winning personal brand is the same as in mastering any craft or skill: keep showing up.
In the age of digital presence, this means that you need to create worthy content in a consistent fashion. This content needs to be a window into your expertise, a way for people to get to know you, your message and what they have to gain from that. In other words, post useful information that can be helpful or interesting to your audience and wrap it up in a way that only you can deliver.
Be always on top of news in your niche but don’t forget to do some research also. Jump in Google Trends or take a note from the autocomplete suggestions in your search engine. These can pinpoint interesting topics and relevant trends for you to create content about.
One last tip: content comes in many shapes and forms. Don’t be afraid to try something new outside articles or posts with text and images. You can deliver your message in a podcast, design an infographic, host a webinar or even launch a series of online courses.