Until recently, the word 'brand' only referred to companies, however in today’s world, we're more aware that every one of us has our own 'personal brand'.
I liken each of our own brands to what we used to call our 'permanent record' - remember how scary it was to hear 'this will go down on your personal record?' With the internet, and especially with social media, that personal record is no longer a mythical list of our wrongdoings – it’s searchable and at anyone’s fingertips at all times. Your digital footprint is available to future bosses, spouses, trolls…
Whether or not you're actively building your personal brand, it is still being built up with every tweet you post, every selfie you take, how you dress, what faces you make when people speak to you and every email you send. It’s up to you if you choose to nurture your brand, or let it be defined for you.
Here are a few of my own suggestions on how to positively contribute to the growth of your personal brand.
1. Start with an audit
What's the current perception of you? How do people feel about what you share, how you act, what you say?
Before we can begin to better strategize on how we’d like to be seen, we have to understand how we're seen right this second. What comes up on the first page of a Google search for your name? Ask other people how they would describe you, what they think are strengths you possess, and what they would suggest are areas you could work on.
2. Figure out what you stand for
It takes a long time for some of us to truly 'find ourselves', and even longer to really understand what that means.
You've undoubtedly seen people on social media that seem to change their views often, seemingly to gain favor from thought leaders, or garner attention from people they look up to on social media.
While catering to popular perception makes some sense, you need to have a strong understanding of what you believe in, what you stand for, and be confident enough to publicly make those views known. Your beliefs will guide your action.
3. Be you
Authenticity is the key to each of our personal brands.
This isn’t something we can fake our way through, nor is a personal brand a persona. In time, people will see through that, and you'll have a pretty steep mountain to climb to change perception.
The essence of your personal brand is all the parts that make you, you. What do you like? What don’t you like? Where do you like to eat, shop, spend time on weekends? Authenticity also means that you do what you say you will do. You walk your talk.
4. Identify your goals
What are your goals in your personal life? In your professional life? What is it that you would like to be known for?
Once you're able to define your goals, you can then develop ways to then go out and grab them.
5. Demonstrate what you’re good at
The best way to do this is through content marketing. Write blogs or articles, or use Twitter to become a trusted resource within your community on topics you have expertise on.
When people want to find information on something, rather than immediately going to Google, they go to people that they trust and those people that have helped them in the past. Become that person for at least one other person.
What differentiates you from everyone else within the same niche?
6. Take it offline
We don’t all live solely online. When I see someone that has a strong personal brand, it's because they're the same online as they are offline.
There are always ways to network offline – all industries have meet up groups you can attend, and if you can’t find one, you can host your own Tweetup. I find Facebook Groups to be the most meaningful parts of that platform for me and my own personal brand, to meet more like-minded people.
Your personal brand isn’t going anywhere, and it's ever-evolving. Building your own brand takes time, but it’s infinitely worth it. The more I stay mindful that everything I do contributes to my personal brand, the more I find I learn about myself.