Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. When starting your own business, your brand is critical as it distinguishes you and sets you apart from everyone else. Care should be taken when establishing your brand. The following contributed post is entitled, Why Your Personal Brand Is Essential To Success.
* * *
It used to be that branding was reserved for businesses. Now, it’s important for individuals to develop a strong personal brand if they aspire towards a successful career. As the workforce becomes more and more competitive and the way we network changes, a strong personal brand can help you to stand out from the crowd.
What is a personal brand? It’s the words your new client will use to describe you to their colleagues. It’s the way an acquaintance knows you’re the person to call when a certain job comes up. Your brand is why a manager will hire you, rather than the next candidate. So it’s crucial that you present yourself in a thoughtful way that helps, rather than hinders, your journey to professional success.
Define yourself, before someone else does
First impressions count and if we don’t define ourselves, it’s easy for others to do it for us. To make sure people remember the right things about you, you’ve first got to identify what you want those things to be.
Who do you want to be known as, professionally speaking? It goes without saying that you’ll want to position yourself as an expert within your given field. It’s worth niching down, rather than presenting yourself as a generalist.
But your personal brand comes down to more than your expertise. It’s not just the things you know and the skills you have. It’s also about who you are as a person and how people can count on you to behave. So who do you want to be known as? Is it someone who is articulate and a powerful communicator? Someone who is trustworthy and brimming with integrity? It’s probably a combination of characteristics and qualities. Write these down and commit to them so you can build your brand around these specifics. Just make sure you’re choosing characteristics that reflect the types of businesses or clients you want to work with.
If you are not already sure of exactly what your personal values are, now is a good time to explore this. Your personal values define the standards to which you hold yourself and the qualities you want to aspire to.
Make sure that your personal values and your personal brand are carefully aligned. If you value yourself as a humble, calm and trustworthy person, this is the message you should put out into the world. It’s tempting to try to market yourself in ways that seem the most charismatic or dynamic. Of course, you want to present your values and qualities in the most attractive way, but don’t be tempted to sell yourself as someone you’re not. This will only cause you trouble in the long run.
The fact is that everyone is looking for something different in people that they choose to work with. You can almost guarantee that someone will be looking to hire or work with someone exactly like you, so stay authentic and true to your own brand. Once you’ve got this secure, you won’t be tempted to present wildly different versions of yourself to fit in like a chameleon.
Once you’ve settled on your personal brand, you need to get it out into the world. One excellent way to put yourself out there is to create content that’s relevant to your brand. An ideal way to do this is through a blog. Producing quality content can establish you as a credible and valuable source of information in your field. If you’re then able to share that content via Linkedin or other social media platforms, then you’re getting your message out there for others to see. Photography or video, perhaps instructional Youtube videos, could also be a great platform, but only if it’s relevant to your industry and brand.
Image via Pexels
As humans, we make assumptions based on visual information. It’s true that things like clothes and hairstyle all contribute to the way people see us, so make sure your style reflects the things you are trying to say. It can seem like a small thing but dressing to reflect your brand adds coherency and authenticity.
Your visual brand will also affect your website and social media presence. Whether it’s bright and whimsical or elegant and monochrome, having a consistent approach to visual content helps. This extends to things as simple as the style of photography you use.
In this digital age, pen and paper can add a distinctive edge. People still use business cards, as they’re still useful for real-world networking. Whatsmore, handwritten or just hand-posted correspondence can add an unexpected personal touch that helps you to stand out. If you’re a freelancer or small business owner with your own logo, think about getting customized stationary. You can use a service like Winmark Custom Stamps and Signs to create custom stamps, embossing seals and name badges with your own distinct logo.
Make time to network
Now you’ve got an idea of how you want to brand yourself, and the tools to do it, you need to get yourself out there. There are many ways of doing this in the modern day. Traditional networking is still just as important, so be sure to get some dates in your diary when you can attend relevant professional talks, events and networking meetings.
You should also be networking virtually, too. Be sure to optimize your Linkedin profile to reflect your personal brand and start building relevant connections there. Don’t neglect other social media networks either. If you can solidify your niche and your brand into one sentence, you can add this to your bio across all networks, including in your email signature. You want to create a consistent idea of who you are since you never know where your next business prospect might find you. You can use Twitter as a platform to engage with relevant people. Just be sure to do it in an appropriate way that doesn’t come across as spam.
Have fun with developing your personal brand and putting yourself out into the world. See what a difference it makes when you present a coherent and confident vision of who you are as a professional and what you offer. In this digital age, it couldn’t be more important.