Whether you are looking for a new job, want to establish your own business or want to be considered an industry expert while working at a company, creating your own brand is far easier and less expensive than ever before. With the help of various tools on the web, and dedication to maintaining your brand on a continuous basis, marketing oneself is becoming quite popular.
The first step in establishing a personal brand is to figure out your unique niche. If you want to be considered an expert, you must figure out what you can offer that not many people have knowledge in. It is also important to have a very clear vision and plan for your career path. Your personal branding must be focused on a clear line of work.
For example, being an expert in the field of finance may not be as effective as being the go-to source for deals in mergers and acquisitions. Or take a common field such as marketing — instead of portraying yourself as a “Marketing Pro” narrow the field to something like “Marketing Pro, Expert in Product Branding for Fortune 500 Consumer Brands.” A specific niche will give you more credibility and make it easier for those seeking industry-specific advice.
Marketing materials: Once you determine your specialty, you can begin the branding process. Business cards, resumes and cover letters are things everyone should create and align with their objectives. Keep the content fresh and come up with innovative ways to present your resume. In addition to the usual PDF resume format, consider creating a multimedia slideshare telling your workstory and experiences.
If a student is looking to get into the communications field, his resume and cover letter should highlight relevant experience while his business card should reflect that he is a recent graduate seeking employment. A branded business card will contain a photo, specialty title, preferred contact information and a logo that matches your marketing materials. About.me is a great online business card that summarizes you in a few lines.
Website, blog and/or online portfolio: An integral part of maintaining a personal brand is to have a voice and continuously offer advice in your specialty niche. Start out simple by creating a Tumblr account for yourself if you are not ready for a personal website. It even allows you to manage your work and personal account from one place making you searchable.
You can be a little fancier by creating a professional website for yourself. Although, creating and maintaining your own website is a lot more work than something like a Tumblr account would be, it does offer some more credibility. If you are up to the challenge, here are a few things you can do to get started.
Begin with a bio that focuses on your past work experience and highlight any awards or special recognition you may have received. While it will mimic your resume in a way, the bio gives you a chance to use your writing flair and tell a your story to your audience. It does not have to be limited to a certain amount of pages and can have your personal tone. Some choose a humorous bio while others may opt to keep it simple and professional. Either way, the writing tone should reflect your personality. If people know you as humorous and witty, portray that in the way you talk about yourself.
Your website should also contain a blog that you update regularly focusing on your professional experiences, interests and career field. If you are new at a job, post at least 1-3 blogs per month on the topic of your choice but align it with your industry. Plan ahead by creating an editorial calendar for yourself and sticking to it. Consider topics that those in your industry would enjoy reading about and give it a human tone by offering examples often. Create blogs that are in the form of tips and tricks as well as case studies. Or, if you’re not ready to start blogging, simply grab interesting and relevant articles and provide insight on why it resonated with you.
To increase your exposure, get in contact with industry media and pitch them the possibility of you guest posting on their site. In addition to your personal blog, you will gain more visibility and credibility when you are featured on an established site. Also make it a point to keep up with industry blogs so you can comment on them and potentially interact with the authors. Become the movie critic of your area of expertise but keep the comments positive.
Share your blog by posting links on your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. To create a regular readership, add a RSS feed subscribe button to your site so fans get emails every time you write a new post.
Also on your website, go into detail about your specialties and what kind of experience you have. Whether you do part-time consulting work or are open to speaking at conferences on behalf of your company, portray that on your website. If your passion is helping consumer brands market themselves, give speeches on that. If you have mastered sales presentations, share some secrets with others looking to advance their careers.
Adding pieces of work on your website is also another way to legitimize how good you are. While this may not apply to all professions, ones that have tangible work pieces such as graphics and ad copy can benefit from displaying their exemplary work online. Be careful to choose a only a few pieces that best exemplify quality work. Do no bombard your audience with every project you have ever worked on in your professional career.
Professional organizations: Look up organizations in your city that bring together professionals in the same industry. This is a great way to network and put yourself out there. Knowing the right people in your industry (and having them know you) is an important part of creating a personal brand. Whether you are looking for a job, starting your own business or looking for new client leads, networking is still the most important way to get recommended.
Finding conferences and seminars to speak at is also another way to brand yourself. If you are an industry expert, you should have a lot of advice to offer — and a good way to reach out to your audience is by speaking at conferences they are likely to attend. Booking speaking events is also a good way to perfect your presentation skills. Start with small organizations — and the better you get at presenting, the better opportunities you will work towards.
Advertise your speaking events on your website, Facebook and Twitter pages to let your fans know when and where they can support you.
Social media presence: Having a strong web presence is crucial in maintaining a personal brand. With a quick Google search, users should be able to know what industry you are in, what your specialties are and companies or clients you have worked with. The more engaged you are in social media, the better your chances of appearing at the top of searches with industry key words.
LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn profile is your real-time resume. Take the time to perfect all aspects of your profile, from the summary and specialties to your recommendations. Ask for recommendations on a continuous basis and not only when you leave a job and are seeking a new one. However, do not ask EVERY professional you come into contact with for a recommendation. Having too many can allow people to question the quality of your recommendations.
Also add honors and awards you may have received over time, and do not be shy to add people you know to your network. The more people you are connected with, the more exposure you will receive when you try advertising your most recent blog post, speaking event or business venture.
Twitter: Another way to establish a professional voice is to create a presence and following on Twitter. Maintain a balance between updating the latest industry news, conveying company happenings and interact with friends, family and industry experts. Keep it completely professional in case your bosses and potential clients find you and may be offended by inappropriate tweets.
Creating a personal brand is not a one time set-up and complete process. It is ongoing and requires constant updates. From blogging, tweeting and updating job statuses on LinkedIn to speaking at industry events, maintaining a personal brand can take time–but is worth the effort.
How has creating your personal brand effected your professional life?