Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. The personal branding concept suggests that success comes from self-packaging. Building your personal brand takes patience and is time-consuming. As a professional social media network, LinkedIn was created for individuals to be able to showcase their complete brand in one place.
When building your personal brand, presenting your identity and establishing a professional reputation are key. This begins with creating a comprehensive and up-to-date profile. After that, the real hard work is in establishing a following and connections, attracting endorsements, and creating value-adding, thought-leadership content others will want to share.
It’s through the creation of your profile that users can view your complete personal brand. Your personal brand is made up of all of you—your picture, your posts, your comments, your likes, your interests.
Create a professional profile that shows your professional experiences, skills, achievements and what you can offer. Join professional groups in areas where you have knowledge, skills, and experiences. Connect with other influencers and peers in your industry.
Here is my colleague Kristian Downer’s post on creating a LinkedIn Profile that works.
Content creation is absolutely vital in establishing your position as an industry thought leader and influencer. Your content can be inspirational, valuable, and educational. Don’t be modest in demonstrating who you are, what you are good at, and what you know.
If you post one insightful and informative article per month, you will soon get into the routine of regularly researching industry trends on which you can comment and provide deeper insight. This has the added bonus that you are always well informed and up-to-date with the latest happenings in your sector.
Posting third-party content also helps significantly with marketing your personal brand. Obtaining content from other sources and sharing it allows you to showcase your interests and industry knowledge. Sharing third-party content on your own social networks gets you followers because it helps others.
There is an unwritten social media etiquette whereby others willingly reciprocate when one shares their content. Make sure you share content from established influencers and thought leaders to tap into their following and align your brand with theirs.
You should post a variety of content to attract interaction, make comments, and respond to comments. Always be positive and active, post regularly and add images to your shares when applicable.
Defining Your Brand
Here are some hints and questions you should address to help define your personal brand.
- Think of a single word that describes you; one word that is the heart and soul of your brand.
- What is your niche? In what area do you want to be known as an expert?
- Trends in your industry/niche: what changes are happening in your platform/niche that you can use to your advantage and need to be aware of?
- Who are the people in your niche that already have a profile/personal brand?
- Who needs to know about you, who can share your personal brand?
- Brand voice: think about your tone, language, and purpose; i.e. challenging, scientific, educational, chatty, complex.
- Your brand statement: be unique, creative, and authentic. For example, my brand statement is: “I use public relations to build businesses, brands, and reputations. I connect brands with meaning—for business success, social impact and a positive climate of opinion.”
When branding yourself, the objective is not to become famous, but rather to become “selectively famous.” In other words, identify the people who need your leadership and communicate your brand only to them. This target audience are the ones who need to know you. They are the ones who will ultimately make the decision to follow you. Once you know your target audience, do everything in your power to nurture them.
Remember to always follow the three C’s of branding – clarity, consistency, and constancy.
Clarity: Always be very clear about who you are. By knowing your unique promise of value, you are identifying what sets you apart from others. This is what differentiates you and allows you to attract brand loyalty among the people who are compelled to do business with you.
Consistency: Once you are clear about your promise of value, consistently demonstrate your brand promise everywhere. This includes your social media profiles, your website, your business cards, your communications.
Constancy: It is not enough to be clear and consistent if you are not always visible to your target audience. Strong brands are constant. Be visible or run the risk of being forgotten.
“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” – Sir Richard Branson