Have you ever searched for yourself online using a site like Information.com? If so, did you like what showed up? Maybe you did, but maybe you didn’t.
There are a lot of reasons that maybe you were less than thrilled with what popped up for your name. Maybe there was limited information about you professionally, or maybe there were some negative things about you floating around out there that you’d like to push down much further in the search results.
If so, then you might need a personal branding strategy.
It’s not even just needed to build a better online reputation. Everyone should have a personal brand that’s positive and that they’re in control of as a way to show their talents and values to the world.
Whether you already have a job, you’re self-employed, you’re in the process of starting a new business, or you’re looking for a new job, your personal brand is relevant.
So how can you get started?
Below is the ultimate guide to building a personal brand.
What Is It?
A personal brand is what makes you unique and special. Your personal brand can be something that creates your online presence on social media sites like LinkedIn, but it also carries over to your offline life. When you have a well-positioned personal brand, it’s going to help you achieve more than you would otherwise.
Your brand includes those characteristics and values you want people to associate with you and that you want to convey consistently.
If you’re able to make a public name for yourself, you can establish yourself as an expert authority. If you have your own business, this will help clients trust you. If you work for an employer, they’re going to see you as an invaluable asset.
To build a personal brand, before you do anything else, you have to be aware of what makes you unique and then take steps to communicate that to the world.
What’s interesting is that when people take time to identify and build their personal brand, they find that it helps them, not just professionally. It tends to help them in their relationships and everyday lives. You’ve articulated who you are, and then you can use that to guide the decisions you make day-to-day.
Your personal brand can include every bit of content available about you, but it doesn’t occur organically, nor does it maintain itself.
People are going to connect you with your brand when it’s a good one, and it will help them see you as someone they can depend on. You’ll appear more authentic and transparent, and you’re inherently differentiating yourself from your competitors.
From the start, the essential elements of your brand include:
- Your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a great starting point to curate and cultivates the brand that represents you. LinkedIn is where much of your target audience will go to find and connect with you. You want to make sure you fully fill your profile out and also make it compelling. Be deliberate in choosing your profile photo. You want it to show you in a professional light but also in a way that’s reflective of your larger brand. You should optimize your headline and consider adding your positioning statement here. For your summary, focus on results you’ve achieved, and whenever you can, use visual content.
- Above, we mentioned using your positioning statement as your headline on LinkedIn. This is just one of many places you’ll need a great positioning statement. Your positioning statement needs to answer succinctly what it is you’re about. As you create it, consider your target audience. What makes you special and different from others in your industry? With positioning statements, it’s best to keep it short and focus on using verbs rather than nouns.
- You can optimize your profiles for SEO, and you should. Keyword research will be helpful not only for optimizing your social profiles but also if you start a blog. You can look for key phrases related to your industry, your role, or the results you achieve. Adding keywords to the “about” section of your LinkedIn profile as well as in your header is a good approach.
- Think about not just what you’re going to say but how you’ll say it. Are you someone with a more formal approach, or can your tone be casual? What is it you do best, and how would you describe yourself in just a few words? What value do you bring to the table?
- After you’ve created the components of your brand, you need to make sure that you’re regularly posting on LinkedIn, your blog, and your other social profiles. This consistency also becomes part of your brand because your audience learns what they can expect from you.
A few other reminders as you’re cultivating the brand of you include:
- Set goals that will help you figure out how you’re going to use your brand.
- Have a fairly unified theme in everything you do. This includes unifying the visual elements of your brand, like your color palette, images, and fonts.
- People want to connect with an individual above all else, and personal branding lets you create that opportunity. Highlight your quirkiness, your skills, your opinions, and your personality.
One of the best tools for your brand that you have at your disposal is a blog. When you blog, you can work on creating a positive online reputation. You’re in control of what your name is attached to when people search for you. Plus, if there is anything unflattering that shows up in search of your name, the more you blog, the more you can push that further and further down so that people aren’t seeing it anymore.
Remember the following if you’re building a blog to highlight the brand of who you are:
- Have a niche. Again, this will go back to what you want to be known for. Your niche needs to be something that will give you plenty to write about and that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Your niche is also something that is going to rely on the use of keywords. You can actually work in reverse and start searching for the most in-demand keywords to figure out what your niche should be.
- What’s great about a blog for personal branding is that your voice is pretty much the only thing that other people can’t replicate. Your voice is what helps you stand out, and when you’re blogging, you’re sharing that voice on a regular basis. Let this develop organically. There are going to be pieces of your personality that find their way into your writing, even if you don’t realize it. Then, there’s going to be a consistency in that fusion of your personality into your writing that organically develops and ties your posts together.
- You want your blog to be cohesive with the rest of your brand visually. You want your colors, theme, and everything else to all tie together and be unified.
- If you’re starting a blog and you want it to get any traction, you need to be regular in writing regular content. You, again, as with your social media posting, also need to be consistent. When you post a lot of content, it improves your SEO, further develops your brand, and helps you reach a broader audience. Your blog might include not only written content but also videos or visual content.
- Every blog you write needs to provide value for your audience. You’re not selling yourself. You’re sharing your expertise, and if that makes someone want to work with you, great, but that’s not your primary goal. You’re giving your perspective and your unique insight, and you’re positioning your blog as a way to solve problems for your audience.
- Identify guest blogging opportunities. When you guest blog, it’s good for SEO because you can link back to your own site. You’re also getting your name and brand out there, you’re further solidifying yourself as an expert and an authority, and you’re creating a more positive, robust online reputation because these guest blogs are going to show up when someone searches for your name.
- Be patient. It takes time to see any results from blogging. It’ll probably be at least a year before you start seeing any impact from your blogging, and that’s if you do it consistently.
Along with everything mentioned above, you want to have a strategy for visibility once you feel like you’re refined your brand. That means that you’re not only building your own audience by publishing content on your platforms but also that you’re reaching other people’s audiences.
We talked about guest blogging which is one means of being more visible.
You should also explore opportunities to get PR. This might mean being on podcasts, attending and speaking at virtual summits, and being featured in traditional media. You can apply to speak at live events, including local events and also conferences.
Finally, as part of your brand, you need to build mutually beneficial relationships with other people and perhaps organizations and companies too. These partnerships and joint ventures will mean more opportunities come your way, as well as referrals.