“Your personal brand should be a reflection of who you are”, a phrase I hear often. The first time I heard it, I didn’t really understand what they meant by that. Myself as a brand? I was unsure. As time went on, I heard personal branding being talked about more and more, but didn’t know much about it or how to build a personal brand, so what exactly is it? Personal branding is how you market yourself and your career as a brand, in other words, your personal brand is your reputation. As a result, how you market yourself is a building block to your career. The reactions people feel when they hear your name, good or bad, help portray your image to them. Are you someone that never follows up with people? Do you make an effort to get to know the people you meet? Believe it or not, these things all play a role into your personal brand. Your personal brand isn’t just online, either. It’s how you behave in your office, at events or at home. It’s who you are as a person. Below are some effective ways that can help you grow your personal brand in a positive way.
Whether you know it or not, everything is transparent in today’s digital age. Make sure you know what your purpose is, and stick to it. What is your intent, and how are you going to portray and maintain it? With today’s technology, anything and everything can be easily captured and distributed in seconds, so be sure that what you are about to do or what you are about to say won’t hinder your brand if thousands see it.
Connecting with professionals and peers already in the field is a great way to begin building your personal brand. Learning and interacting with them will help in growing your professional circle and network. Go to networking events, send a message to an industry thought-leader, make connections. As you start making more and more connections, there will be a better chance that your personal brand is recognized. The more connections you make, the easier it will be to tap into the industry and connect with others. Here’s an example of Stephanie Liu leveraging her personal network to create an interview opportunity (Golden Rules of Personal Branding with Goldie Chan).
Once you start networking and connecting with those already in the field, keep the interaction flowing. Follow them on social media platforms, ask to meet again over coffee, get to know them. You’ll become comfortable with engaging with them, and chances are, they’ll introduce you to others in the field too. Don’t let the initial connection fade out over time. Make the effort to keep it alive, and make the effort to know them. You never know if they’ll be able to help you advance your career or help point you in the right direction.
Know what you’re talking about and own it. Familiarize yourself with important topics and trends in the industry. Understand your interests and how they play into who you are and how you want to be seen. You want to add value to your conversations and engage in conversations about topics you know. Wanting to be a personal brand without a clear direction of your goals, is an easy way to not being a personal brand.
Be yourself. Trying to mask yourself as someone that you aren’t, will eventually be shown to others. Acknowledge that you don’t know every little detail about your industry and that you don’t have to act like you do. It’s okay, most people don’t. Let your personality shine. Who you are and what you are is unique, don’t be afraid to let it show. It will pay off in the long run.
Building your personal brand can be a daunting task. Take the right steps to become informed and engaged with your industry. As your brand grows, be proactive. Seek out new networking opportunities and new professionals to connect and engage with. Stay on top of industry news and engage in conversations. Make yourself known, and make your personal brand prosper.
FURTHER READING: 10 Best Personal Brand Books for Summer Reading by Goldie Chan