Unless you’re all up with that self love mindset – promoting your personal brand may seem a little daunting and conceited. Realistically though, it doesn’t have to involve a whole lot of bragging and can be really fast, easy to maintain, and 100% free.
Promoting your personal brand is investing in yourself, and your career. And it’s never been easier.
What is a Personal Brand?
Personal brand is a buzzword that is often misinterpreted and oversimplified as something akin to self promotion. In reality, it’s really not about selling yourself and the idea that you can market yourself like a handbag is just weird. Personal branding is more about developing an honest and comprehensive representation of who you truly are.
If well executed, our personal brand should allow us to better connect with others through a genuine portrayal of ourselves as well as help us to find our best fit in terms of our career and personal direction.
The idea isn’t to present a shiny, over-exaggerated version of your CV – your personal brand should really surpass that sort of superficial stuff and delve into who you are; your passions, drives and motivating factors.
Why Should You Care About Personal Branding?
If you’ve been active on social media or any kind of online network, ever, then you’ve almost certainly got a personal brand whether you like it or not. The challenge is to strategically define your brand into a strong and cohesive image of who you are and what you stand for.
If you don’t actively manage your personal brand, you’ll still have one but it will be a weak representation of your true self shaped by other people and the magical powers of the internet. As well as allowing you to better understand yourself, your personal branding also ensures that future employers will know you as more than just a name. Paying attention to your personal brand will help you to be really clear about your goals and direction without having to synthesize your life into bullet points.
How to Perfect Your Personal Branding Strategy
If you’re not sure what your personal brand says about you, start with a quick Google Search. Does your name link to your social profiles? Your creative work? Your previous workplaces? If so, you’re off to a good start. If not, you may want to redefine your online identity especially if you have a common name (sincerest apologies to all the John Smiths out there). Try using your middle name across all platforms or an initial so that you’re differentiated from others who share the same name.
As narcissistic as it sounds, it’s fairly important to keep tabs on what the internet is saying about you. Consider setting up Google alerts so you can find out when new content about you comes up. It takes literally one minute to get it established and it means you’ll never have to Google yourself again.
Everyone is on some kind of social media. If you want to stand out, you really need a personal website. It’s quicker and easier to do than ever before. Whether you’re a college student getting exposure with an online resume, a creative showcasing your work, or a professional demonstrating your industry expertise, using Strikingly you can quickly set up a site that gets your message across. Below, there’s a section with some links to great examples of people who are killing it with their personal brands. A uniform and clear picture of who they are and what they’re about is really obvious from their pages – their websites and social media also connect really well.
The best examples of personal brands will make you feel like you already know the person on a meaningful level. Not just their name, where they’re from and their college GPA but what gets them up in the mornings and drives them to be better.
Post with Purpose
Put a little thought into your online behaviour and what it says about you. What you post on your social media platforms, the content you share on your blog or forums and the cohesiveness of the thoughts you make public online all come together to form your personal brand.
Try to make all of your online actions purposeful. Link your contributions to your passions and ambitions and really work towards having a consistent appearance online. Of course that’s not a suggestion that your posts should be contrived and super planned out, merely that they should be deliberate and not random.
Frequent activity on social media platforms as well as maintaining your website with current information are good habits to get into. Being active within the online community is a good indication that you’re a proactive and contributing member of your industry. Posting carefully considered but frequent content makes a really good impression.
Being genuinely you is something that will make you stand out from the crowd in itself. Even in your professional profiles, don’t hold back from showing your personality and expressing what it is that sets you apart.
Describe what you want to achieve in life and how you plan to get there. Talk about what inspires you and why and show your ambition and what makes you tick. Getting real about the real you is far rarer than it should be and being open enough to share that is a great edge.
Try to highlight more concrete things that set you apart as well. Write about your hobbies, cool work experience that you’ve had, or any volunteer work that you’ve done. These kinds of things are what companies look for when searching for talent so don’t be too concerned if you’re sharing your personal interests. Even if they don’t seem all that relevant, they’re part of your story and well worth including.
You already have a network of great associates and friends who you’ve worked with, studied with or with whom you are friends. Help each other out to support one another’s branding by showing support for each others’ projects. Blog features and collaborations are really nice ways to work with others in the same field for mutual benefit. Meaningful joint projects are really great experience for students, creatives, and professionals alike.
As well as using your existing circles, always be open to making new ones and make yourself easily contactable through your website or social media pages. Of course, this is all within reason; expanding your circle for the sake of it is not cool. Fabricated networks don’t impress anyone and they’re not helpful to you. It’s better to have a small group of great connections than a large group of meaningless ones.
Our personal experiences are our most defining moments – quantifiable stats on increasing customer satisfaction and driving revenue are boring and hollow and generally say very little about character and capability. Furthermore, for creatives like designers, musicians, and artists they don’t exist. You can’t put down the value and achievements of your creative work on paper and even if you could, they wouldn’t do it justice. Your personal story and journey of learning and discovery is infinitely more inspiring and relevant to your personal brand than numbers and carefully worded skills summaries.
There’s not even an argument that resumes are boring, even for employers (actually, especially for employers). Giving them something interesting and human to read that moves away from the self praising text vomit of your CV gives you the upper hand in the job market.
There are many actionable tips that you can follow to affirm your personal branding online. We’ve grouped them into the things you can do within a few minutes, ongoing promotional actions and things you can do when you’ve got some free time to really invest in strengthening the your image.
Personal Brand Website Examples
Sydney based creative, Hannah Silverton is a great example of the power of personal branding. Her site has a casual and easygoing vibe and showcases her skills, experience and personality. Her social media platforms all tie in really nicely to her brand image.
Andre is still in college but he’s putting himself ahead of the pack with excellent personal branding. His site is comprehensive and really demonstrates how ambitious and driven he is. Again, he’s on all the relevant social media and actively contributes to the industry that he aspires to be a part of.
The most important action to take is getting a personal branding site up, is to just start building it. Your site doesn’t immediately have to be a perfect representation of you. Look at your personal branding site as an evolving project rather than a static piece of content.
To help you get started, our friends at Website Builders Critic have made a video to show you how to spin up a beautiful personal branding site within minutes using Strikingly. Not convinced that it’s that easy? Check out the video below.
Concluding Thoughts on Personal Branding
The end goal is for you to develop a comprehensive, active and relevant presence online and then to use that presence to fulfil your ambitions and voice your ideas.
Personal branding is also a journey of discovering things about yourself that you weren’t fully aware of before. Putting time and consideration into what you are saying about yourself online will help you to better identify and remain personally accountable to your goals and reinvigorate your passions.