Published on August 11, 2015
Whether it be P.F. Changs, Donald Trump, the New York Times or the Kardashians, all types of businesses, organizations and people have a brand, a distinguishing characteristic or set of defining traits that sets them apart. Creating a personal brand is essential. A personal brand is a blend of professional and personal identity, it defines you in the most public spaces.
Taking the time to establish a personal brand will help a young professional separate themselves from the competition, giving them job and contact opportunities, along with recognition in their field. Identifying a personal brand isn’t easy, especially for young people who are still figuring out who they are and what they want in life. That being said, anyone out there can develop a personal brand with a little guidance.
1. Start with research
A great way to begin the process of developing a personal brand is with a Google search. Look at what has been published about you and take stock of your current online presence. Who are you according to the internet and how is this different or similar to how you want to be perceived? What descriptors do you use to describe yourself on Twitter or Facebook? What conclusions could be drawn about you according to your social media accounts? After assessing your current online presence, you’ll have an idea of where you’re starting from.
2. Think about your mission
So why do you want to develop a personal brand? What career goals do you have? Where do you want to be in 5, 10 and 20 years? More so than just wanting a specific job, think about why you want certain jobs and what makes you happy in the workplace. Start writing down your goals and professional interests and then try to prioritize them. If you had 10 seconds to introduce yourself to an influencer in your field, what words would you use to present yourself to make them remember you? Once you’ve taken some time to narrow down a concrete goal or two, it’s important to give your mission a good analysis and to be honest with yourself. If not, you’ll be perceived as phony. Authenticity is what is behind every great personal brand.
3. Think about what makes you unique
Nobody wants to make a dull impression, that’s why your professional goals aren't the only thing you want your personal brand to communicate. Think about your hobbies, your characteristics, your family, your friends, your travels and experiences. What makes you tick outside of the office? Do any of these outside activities influence your perspective within the office? For example, "an open-minded business journalist who enjoys frequent trips to Asia" says a lot more than “business journalist”. Personal knowledge of a specific culture is a unique, telling characteristic that will separate the journalist from their colleagues.
4. Create your online presence
Creating a professional website is a major milestone in the process of developing your personal brand. Not only does a professional website exist as a space to flesh out your personal brand but it also can be a place to publish examples of your work. Think about what story your website is telling. What colors and pictures do you use? What words do you pick to describe yourself to make yourself unique? Each detail in the website will communicate something about you professionally and personally, so think carefully about what you want your peers to expect from you. Include personality in your description, be personable, but use correct grammar, an easy-to-read font and use flashy colors minimally. Make sure your contact information is available on the website, along with examples of your work and also information on how to follow you through social media networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.
In regards to social media, it’s a good idea to streamline your introductory information across all online media platforms. Choose that introductory phrase that encompasses both a professional mission and flavorful personal details and use it across all mediums. Consistently using the same personal brand, staying “on message” about who you are, is key to gaining widespread recognition and building an audience.
5. Manage your online presence
Not only should your basic profile information stay uniform across all online presences, but what you post and share on these platforms should also stay “on message” to a degree. If part of your personal brand is being a geeky uncle, posting a photo of a science experiment you’re working on with your nephew is something that will not only separate you from the pack of other professionals, but it also evokes an emotional response and connection. It shows that your personal brand is authentic. It’s real and makes you more human.
6. Network and develop your audience
So you have your personal brand – now what? It’s time to share yourself with the world. Start by associating yourself online with people you’ve met through college, work and organizations. Then branch out by following and connecting with people who you learn from and people who depend on you or could depend on you for information or services. For example, an up-and-coming chef specializing in Peruvian cuisine may follow and contact famous Peruvian chefs and famous restaurants located in their city, along with food bloggers and commenters on food websites. Through this network of culinary artists, restaurants and foodies, a young chef can post pictures of their new food creations, photos from food events, recipe ideas and share interesting food articles and pictures.
Photo 2. based on Salford Business School launches unique open access online course, by University of Salford Press Office, CC-by-2.0
Photo 3. based on GDC Online 2011_Monday_Smartphone and Tablet Games Summit, by Official GDC, CC-by-2.0