A brand is something that separates one thing from another. In corporate marketing, a brand is a carefully constructed grouping of images and messaging that appear across the company’s touch points with consumers. A brand can be expressed in anything from advertising, to the way employees are trained to communicate with customers (think about the Starbucks barista putting your name on the cup).
The world’s biggest brands put forward a clear and consistent message, which makes them instantly recognisable and clearly communicates their core values. Professionals can create a personal brand to enhance their business relationships and with the advance of the internet; it is now easier than ever before.
The first step to creating a personal brand is to work out exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Setting goals will help you plan and implement a realistic strategy for building up your personal brand. Your goals will depend on what you do for a living and what stage you are at within your career. If you run a small business or are a freelancer, you may wish to get your name out there to acquire more business. If you’re an employee of a large company or organisation, you may be looking to enhance your credibility as an expert in your field, improving your reputation and increasing your chance of promotion. If you’re a job seeker, you may wish to build the contacts you have to help you find the perfect job or improve your visibility online to get headhunted, or make the right first impression if a potential employer Googles you.
Secondly you should build up a valuable pool of professional contacts. You can do this by attending industry relevant networking events or building up your contacts online.
Use social media when creating your personal brand; you should have an active presence on all of the main social media channels, especially LinkedIn. Share things which provide value to other members of your network and establish a sense of you being an authoritative voice within your field, for example comment on news stories that are related to the industry you work in. Join all the relevant communities and pages you can and be an active contributor. Never be afraid to introduce yourself to a valuable potential contact, networking is all about being assertive.
A blog is a really good way to gain more presence online. Blogging about your field of work, or a relevant subject is an effective way of creating an impression of yourself as an authoritative figure. If you frequently add articles your blog can appear in relevant Google search terms allowing your voice to reach a new and relevant audience. If you find you are too busy to keep up a blog of your own, you can contribute to other blogs. This is a great way to get links to your personal online profile and associate yourself with an established online brand for minimal work.
The final stage of building a personal brand is ensuring you build a positive reputation for yourself, in the real and digital worlds. On social media remove any inappropriate pictures of yourself, even if they were funny at the time. Also be careful not to post any comments that could be too alienating or divisive amongst your audience. Similarly in the real world, remember that getting ahead doesn’t mean getting “one up” over your colleagues and professional peers. Remember the importance of being a team player. Ensure you always support your peers where possible and your reputation will soar.
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