Personal Branding: Tips on how to achieve it
All of us have a Personal Brand, even if we are not aware. Every action we take, every post we publish, every event we attend, the way we interact with our peers, clients and investors online and offline, contribute to defining our Personal Brand. All these elements help build your reputation, and your reputation is the foundation of your profession and personal life.
You need to see yourself as THE BRAND.
If you are the brand, we can tackle the entire business of personal branding the same way we do with a brand.
Let’s start by defining the who: Who are you? Who are you addressing? What is the goal you want to achieve?
Let’s discuss these one by one.
I am a strategist, so for me, everything starts with defining the goal.
What is your goal? Do you want a new job? Do you want to secure a new project? Do you want to find investors for your startup? Do you want to position yourself as an expert in your field?
Your goal can be any of the above or perhaps it is something entirely different. It does not matter, as long as you have a goal.
This will dictate the way you present yourself, the people you will want to interact with, and the type of content you share. In order to be able to achieve any goal, you need the following things:
- Clarity; know exactly what you want to achieve.
- Consistent communication. For example, if you decided to make the switch from a corporate position to freelancing, all your communication needs to be in line with the freelancing work.
- Metrics. You need to make sure that what you are doing is working. In case it is not, you need to see what you can change. If you are not measuring your work, this will be impossible.
- A deadline. Deadlines will help you focus as well as motivate you to take action. Another benefit of having a deadline is that it will force you to stop and reevaluate. When you reach the deadline, you need to see what you achieved and analyze if you still want the same things, which will help you decide how to move forward.
Once you have a goal, it will become clear who your “audience” is.
For example, if you want a new job, your audience is the companies that hire for that particular position. If you are looking for an investment, then you are targeting venture capitalists, investors, or maybe accelerators.
Once you know who you are targeting, you will also know where to find them and can come up with a plan on how to reach them.
You need to be prepared for an online as well as an offline approach. When we talk about online think about:
- A personal website presenting your portfolio and services
- Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter
- Any platform where you (can) share content, for example Medium
Not everyone has a personal website, however, the majority of us have a LinkedIn profile. You can see your LinkedIn profile as your business card. A recent trend in business is that many do not hand out business cards; instead they just add you to their LinkedIn network the moment they meet you.
LinkedIn is a great channel to build up your personal brand. Some things to be aware of when it comes to your LinkedIn profile:
- Upload an up-to-date professional photo.
- Create a relevant representation of your professional experience, in line with your overall goal.
- Provide contact details.
- Ask for recommendations from people you have worked with.
- Make sure your work is easily accessible, so when people look at your profile, they know exactly what your expertise is.
- Make sure you activate the “Let recruiters know you are available” button and fill the form to influence the algorithm to your advantage — only if you are looking for a job.
LinkedIn is a great platform to start sharing your knowledge. You can do that by publishing articles and sharing content.
A secret of building a good brand is consistency. Make sure you don’t publish from time to time, but you make it on a regular basis. Ideally, that would be once a day. If that is not realistically possible, make sure you do it at least once a week.
The content you are sharing needs to click with the image you want to project, with your personal values and the audience you want to target.
As with any social media platform, LinkedIn is a platform that works best when the communication is both ways. That means only sharing is not enough; you also need to see what other people are posting. Interact with those posts by commenting and liking. By doing so, you will also better understand your audience, get inspired, and find out what is happening in your industry.
If you want to increase your network, you can invite to connect with people that interact with your post.
Consistency is a key element when it comes to building a presence and a brand. Make sure you are consistent in your communication and that your message does not change depending on the channel. I am not saying to post the same content everywhere, but that everything you are posting no matter the platforms is in line with your overall goal and follows the same storyline.
Now that we have a clearer picture of what to do online, let’s talk a little bit about the offline component.
What type of events should you attend?
To answer this question, we need to go back to your goal and the audience you are targeting. Where do you find the people you want to connect with? Are they coming to meetups, conferences or other types of events?
Do research to find out. Once you know where you can find them, make sure you are present there. In my opinion, one of the most important things when it comes to meeting new people is to be yourself and to be curious.
Your goal at these events should be to make connections, meet people who can help you and that you can help. You want to start being visible and known. The networking events, same as LinkedIn for that matter, are for making contacts, maintaining relationships, but not for signing contracts. The next day you can get in touch with the people you met and set up calls, coffee meetings or approach them with a business proposal.
Personal branding is not about hard sales; it is about relationships and how people perceive you.
For every networking event I attend, my main purpose is to meet as many people as possible. I want to learn as much as I can about them: who they are, what they do, what they need. I want to learn about all of these because I like connecting (with) people and these are essentials in order to be able to do that.
If I meet someone who needs something that another connection of mine can offer, I will make sure to send an email introducing them. Why? Because I like helping them, but also because this helps build my personal brand.
Another great way to increase your personal brand is by organizing these events or holding a presentation on topics that are relevant to you.
Everything we do influences our personal brand: our online presence, the events we attend and how we interact with the people we meet. If we take them separately, these are small actions, however, when we put them together, they tell a story: our professional story.