If you have had a few jobs by now, you do realize how important your resume becomes whenever you are looking for the next opportunity. If you are an entrepreneur, you know how important it is that your prospect takes you seriously.
Over the years, I’ve helped many people in building their personal brand online. Yet, I’ve also met those who don’t believe in personal branding online though they do work very hard to build and maintain their brand value in traditional ways.
Working with people from various walks of life and helping them leverage the power of the internet and social media, has been a tremendous experience. The process of personal branding is a lot of fun and also challenging at times. It is fun because it is not just very engaging but also very rewarding when you do it right. But, it becomes a challenge when the process is broken.
I maintain a list of elements of personal branding that I discuss with each of my clients when they choose to work with me. This gives a good starting point and as I share this list of elements with you, I hope you will benefit from this as well.
Personal Branding Isn't Only An Online Thing
Many people have this misconception that personal branding is about creating an impressive social media profile and having a website. While that is part of the process, it is not all there is to personal branding.
The goal of personal branding is to help you represent yourself in an authentic way. Authenticity is such an important element of personal branding. In short, you must be what you are branding yourself as.
What it means is, you shouldn’t try to brand yourself as a sales coach if you don’t have experience in sales. You shouldn’t try to brand yourself as a marriage counselor if you are single. And if you do, the personal brand identity you are trying to build is not authentic and sooner or later it is going to backfire.
Also, even if you don’t believe in the online world and social media marketing, you still need a strong personal brand for your associates, your prospects and your customers to take you seriously. What that means is, your personal branding is your biggest professional asset whether or not you know.
Elements Of A Powerful Personal Brand In Reality
Therefore, it is important that we establish some basic elements of your personal brand identity. Whether people meet you through social media or at a temple, they must feel the same way. That means, your personal branding efforts are as important in the real world as they are in your online world.
Here are the key elements of your personal brand identity. These drive everything about you and all your activities both offline and online:
1. Know Who You Are
It totally makes sense, doesn’t it? You can’t create a brand if you don’t know what it is. What do you do? What can you do for other people? How can you help your company? What makes you better than your competition?
If you are a fitness professional, you’ve got to know enough about fitness, your strengths, weakness, what do you do to help people etc. Similarly, if you are an entrepreneur, you should have a clear understanding of your business and how you can help others through your products or services.
The more you know about yourself, the better brand identity you will have more self-confidence about yourself. People around you will notice that confidence and they will remember you what you represent.
2. Define Your Personal Branding Goals
You should have a brand statement representing truly what you stand for. When somebody asks you about what you do, you should know your brand statement. You should know what you want people to remember when they think of you. It doesn’t have to be a slogan, a professionally written statement. Instead, it should be a clear enough for others to understand. For example:
· What do you want others to know and say about you?
· What do you want others to know and say about your products or services?
Write down your branding goals in line with your personal mission and keep it accessible so you can refer to it frequently.
3. Know Your Value Proposition
I remember introducing a friend of mine (an IT guy working on some reporting tool) to another friend (who is a freelance photographer) at a social gathering. When my photographer friend asked my IT friend about his profession, his reply was, “I am a report writer.” For a moment, even I got confused about that.
Well, he was in IT and probably he didn’t care whether others understood his profession or not. But in business, you need to realize that the better people understand about what you can do for them, the better chances you have of gaining new clients.
That brings us to the point of value proposition. Your brand statement should include your value proposition. It should clearly state what benefits or results or solutions you provide to people. Why should people come to you. What can people expect from you. This value proposition will drive your professional career, your business and your personal brand.
4. Know Your Target Market
You can’t be everything to everybody. That also means, you need to know your target audience. You need to know who matters to you and your business. Others will also know about your brand name, but the people who are your prospective clients, prospective business associates or employers are those who must be your primary audience.
Define your target market and focus your efforts to establish your brand identity for them. Know them and engage with them.
5. Engage And Communicate Effectively
Your brand image builds in the real world based on your work ethic, your thought process and your behavior. The better you are as a person, the better is your brand identity in the real world. For example:
Who you think you are: How you perceive yourself will get communicated to people around you as they interact with you. Do you value yourself? How confident you feel? How do you feel about your talents and skills? These things define your self-image and in turn people will perceive you accordingly.
Watch the way you act: Your actions create your image for yourself and others around you. Are you on time, or early for your appointments? Is there a confidence in your body language? Do you look in their eyes and smile when you are with people?
Watch the way you talk: There is not a good or a bad tone speed or inflection. We all have our own unique ways and quality of voices. However, the way we talk helps people create perceptions about ourselves. Being watchful of your pace, your tone when talking to others helps others understand what you are saying. If you don’t match your tone and pace, others may not understand you which isn’t very helpful for your brand image.
Watch the way you dress: Your attire also defines you as a person. Your attire is the first thing people notice when they see you and it creates your brand image. Not just that, your own self-esteem gets influenced highly based on what you wear. Be careful about your attire if you care for your personal branding.
Elements Of A Powerful Personal Brand Online
When we talk about creating and maintaining a powerful personal brand identity, it can’t happen without using the internet. Why? Simply because more than 50% of the entire world’s population is spending a good number of hours each day on the internet. If you ignore the internet, you’ve just cut your chances of success by 50%.
Therefore, it is important that you also master the art of personal branding online. The basic elements of online personal branding discussed below are about using the internet and social media to your advantage. So, let’s get started.
1. Identify Your Social Media Platforms
Your online personal branding strategy includes your presence on social networking websites such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. There are so many social networking sites and obviously it is hard to be on top of your game everywhere.
Therefore, depending on where your target audience is and the nature of your business, you’ve got to handpick your top 3 or 4 social networks and engage there. Just pick about 3 or 4 and commit to stay active there.
It goes without saying that your profiles on these networks should represent your brand image correctly and the details you put in your profile should be genuine and you must have a good smiling head shot to represent yourself.
2. Setup Your Self-Hosted Professional Website
Setting up a website is not a big deal anymore. People have websites for their dogs and their cars. It just costs less than 5 dollars a month to setup a professional quality website in minutes.
Having said that, you need to know that if you don’t have a website, you don’t have a home on the internet. You are homeless online. For more on this, check out this earlier post where I explained this concept.
To read more about the need for having your own self-hosted website, here are a few other posts you may want to refer so you don’t miss out some of the key concepts:
- Choosing The Best Blogging Platform For Your Needs
- How To Setup Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website And Blog (Self-Service)
- FREE WordPress Hosting Installation And Setup For Your Website (Get helped)
A professionally designed website gives you the same credibility (or better) as dressing sharp when you go out in the real world. What you place on your website is what the online world perceives you to be. And if you don’t have your website, then you don’t exist online and so, people don’t even know you.
3. Remember Your Target Audience
Remember we discussed about having a target market in the section above? When you place your online representation through social media online and your website, your target audience doesn’t change. You still need to remember them and all your communication, all the engagement you create online should still be focused towards your target audience.
4. Stay Active Online
Having a social media presence and having a professional website is a much better thing than not having one. But, if you really want to leverage the power the internet brings to the table, you’ve got to be active in the online world as well.
If you are on Facebook/Twitter, updating your status on Facebook and tweeting a couple of times a day will keep you active. This gives your brand image, the credibility that you are accessible and you are engaging. People like to interact with those who are active.
Regarding your website, you should write a blog post on a regular interval. It could be once a week, or even once 15 days. But your website needs to be updated on a regular basis to attract website visitors.
5. Follow The Best Practices For Personal Branding
Just like everything else, there are some cardinal rules that good brands follow and you want to abide by them as well. You want to leave a positive impression of your personal brand online and it requires that you do a few things and refrain from engaging in some activities.
Just to get some ideas about what to do and what not to do, here are a couple of reference posts for you:
- 10 Online Activities You Should Avoid To Protect Your Brand
- How To Promote Your Business Using Social Media
- Personal Brand Strategy – How To Do It The Wrong Way
My Questions To You
Do you have your personal branding goals? If yes, what process did you follow to get it done?
What are some of your favorite personal branding steps that have helped you so far and what future changes are you planning to make?
Please share your thoughts in the comments and add value. Thank you kindly!