A strong brand helps a company stand out in the crowd – and gains more sales, increased awareness and better customer experiences. But branding isn’t just for companies. Professionals each have their own story to tell, along with goals, skills and expertise to share. In today’s digital world, a personal brand is not just a nice-to-have – it’s expected.
Your story plays an important role in boosting your career. It should highlight your strengths, establish a reputation, build trust and communicate the valuable attributes that you bring to your industry. It signals to employers whether or not you’re the right fit for an open position.
There are incremental steps you can take to help you create an authentic personal brand:
Figure out who you are. In order to make progress, you need to understand where you’re starting from. Begin your branding journey by pausing to reflect upon and evaluate where you are today. What are your greatest strengths and what are your challenges? What do you do better than others in your industry? What are your goals – where do you want to be as a professional next year? What about in five or ten years?
Define your audience. The better you understand who you’re speaking to, the more effectively you will be able to communicate and connect with them. As you begin to map out your target audiences, consider everything you know about them. Take the time to understand their needs, values and pain points; this will help to make your communications feel personal, specific and valuable.
Research the experts in your industry. Seek out the thought leaders in your field. Find out if they have blogs and where they contribute their thinking. Look for people who are successful and determine what they’re doing. In building a personal brand, your goal is to stand out – but you can’t rise to the top without taking inventory of who’s already there.
Embrace networking. It’s important to network regularly to grow your professional circle. Connect with peers and thought leaders through networking events. The more connections you make – and the more value you can provide in your interactions – the more likely it is that your personal brand will be recognized. And because so many jobs are filled through networking, you are not only building your brand, but potentially advancing your career as well.
Cultivate your online presence. Make sure your online presence is engaging to hiring managers, colleagues and others – even if you’re not job hunting. With so many different social media tools available today, your online presence will likely look different depending on the medium you choose. While your story should match across all platforms, once you know where your targeted audience is most likely to turn, you can focus on telling your best story there.
As your career evolves, so will your personal brand. Adjust your story accordingly as you meet different people, find new networking opportunities and grow in your career. As long as it reflects your professional life, don’t hesitate to create a brand that lets you shine.