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Personal Branding: How to build the brand called 'You'
The concept of "personal branding" has gained momentum over the past few and become somewhat of a buzzword for modern professionals.
But what is a personal brand? In brief, it’s how people see you. It's about how you dress, speak and present yourself. It's about the causes you care about and represent. Think Oprah Winfrey, U2’s Bono and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: they have all established an identity in the public realm — perfect examples of a personal brand.
Personal branding is an increasingly important consideration in your professional career. Thanks to the internet and social networking sites, it's now essential for any professional to develop and manage a personal presence and personal brand online.
Why is personal brand important?
Whether we are aware of it or not, all of our activities online — on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn — form an online personal profile that is searchable. More and more employers are going online to conduct background searches to suss out the character and activities of their potential staff. Quick test: Google your own name and see what comes up. How will a recruiter react to such content?
Actively creating a personal brand online allows you to market yourself and craft an accurate representation of your identity. While social networking sites allows you to engage and stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues, it’s also wise to view them as platforms on which you can build your personal brand.
How do I build my personal brand?
Because you "live and breathe" your personal brand, it’s essential your brand is genuine and an accurate depiction of who you are. Here are some tips:
- Work out what you’re passionate about
Your personal brand must suit and reflect your likes and interests. What is it that you want to do, and what attributes and qualities express your passion? If you want to be a professional speaker, market yourself as someone with public speaking skills and ambition in your field of expertise.
Create profiles that reflect your passions on social networking platforms. Maximising your LinkedIn profile to reflect your interests, skills and ambitions is essential. If you are active on Facebook and Twitter, make sure your profile and the information you share on those platforms is consistent with the overarching tone and message of your personal brand.
How will you use your personal brand? Just as any commercial or corporate brand has plans, goals and targets, you should create a development path for yourself that leverages and buoys your personal brand. Start making contacts, decisions and planning career moves that are in line with your brand.
Thinking about your personal brand is particularly important if you are seeking a pay rise, or are considering switching jobs or careers. By creating and shaping your personal brand, you get a clearer idea of what you want to achieve, how you need to be perceived to get it, and how you can market the necessary attributes to the relevant audience.
To build your personal brand, you need to
- Know what you’re passionate about
- Establish and manage a presence on social networks
- Make a plan for yourself