Updated: May 18
How would you describe yourself in one word?
How about a sentence or a group of adjectives?
Do you have an elevator pitch for yourself?
If you have a clear YES for even one of the above questions, then you are doing just fine when it comes to establishing a personal brand.
Much like slogans that set brands like Apple (Think Different) and Nike (Just Do It), professionals and individuals, too, can have a motto, slogan or a narrative that summarizes who are they and what sets them apart.
The question that you may have on your mind is how does that matter and why is it required?
Just like brands need a story to tell and differentiate themselves from a sea of competitors, the same applies to professionals. Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, or a senior professional looking for better opportunities, you need to be seen by the respective people in your network. Recruiters, venture capitalists, and headhunters, cannot work with you if they don’t about you. Much like you wouldn’t buy a brand that you don’t know much about.
This is what personal branding is all about. You know you are unique. You know your strengths and capabilities. It is now the time for others to know it, as well. The process that entails creating a personal brand, is much similar to creating a corporate brand.
Your personal brand will stand for:
1. Who you are?
2. What do you stand for?
3. What are the values that you embrace?
4. How do you choose to express those values?
A resume is just a list of your academic and professional achievements. Recruiters, HR, and senior management hiring for roles are now looking for more than aptitude, they are looking for attitude and a personality fit, as well. This is not something that you can fit into a resume. Your personality shines through the way you communicate with your network, and the kind of vibe you give off through your messages, comments, and posts. They learn more about you through what interests you and who or what you follow. In short, your personality is now woven all over your digital presence. How you weave it through, defines you to your recruiters and people who are going to work with you.
Does personal branding require you to share your personal life in public?
This one question often cross people’s mind when they think about personal branding and letting the world know about them. The good news is that’s not true.
Your person and your personal life are two very different things. Who you ARE as a person is not equal to what you DO in your life. When you are comfortable separating the two, you will find personal and professional branding come way more easily to you.
Influencers are often seen sharing their lives and routines with their followers. Their followers are hooked to learning more about their lives, what products they use, and their thoughts and perspectives.
However, as a professional, you can share your unique perspectives and insights about the industry you work in, your experience of working in a certain role, learnings you have gathered throughout your life and career, so on and so forth.
If you are okay with sharing more than your thoughts and your approach is a more B2C one, then you can go ahead and share on Instagram which is the hotbed for reel stories. On the other hand, if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader and create a professional brand, then LinkedIn would be the platform of your choice.
So, where do you start?
Your personal brand is your story.
What makes you, you?
Why did you choose to do what you do?
What are your strengths?
Build a story around these pointers and you are close to establishing a personal brand for yourself in the market.
Now for the promised tips for building and boosting a personal brand.
Personal Brand Tip 1: Who are you?
The foundation of your personal brand lies at the very core of who you are. Therefore, you have to be extremely honest and answer the following questions:
1. What are the areas in which you excel?
2. What characteristics do others attribute to you?
3. What motivates you to work endlessly without getting tired?
Similarly, you will need to answer the opposites of these as well.
1. What are the areas in which you do not do as well?
2. What are the things that make it difficult for you to connect to other people?
3. What kind of work drains you of your energy and you would be better off avoiding it?
You can seek the help of your family, friends, and colleagues in answering these questions as they might help you see things that you don’t see clearly yourself at this moment. A little bit of soul-searching and introspection goes a long way when you are trying to establish how the world will see you.
Personal Brand Tip 2: Dress for the job you want
When you are creating a personal brand, it is not just about you today. It is about you 5 years or 10 years down the line. Once you are on the path of communicating your brand to everyone out there in a certain way, you cannot backtrack or change it every now and then. This will confuse you and confuse your target audience. Remember, you are trying to establish trust with people, hence, consistency and reliability are key.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses and find out what profession or industry best suits your ability. Get a better idea of what are the skill sets that you possess and how you can harness them to get into the right industry for you if you aren’t already in it. See what you want your life and career to be in the future and work towards that goal. Your story should support that goal.
Personal Brand Tip 3: Find your people
Determining your target audience will help you craft a story and communication that suit their tastes the best. It will also help you zero down on the social media platforms you should focus on first. For example, I mentioned Instagram for B2C requirements and LinkedIn for B2B purposes.
92% of recruiters use social media to find candidates who could be the best fit, and 87% of those recruiters use LinkedIn for the same.
So, if you are a job seeker, it would be best to update your LinkedIn profile with the bio that acts as the narrative for your personal brand (who you are and what makes you, you), along with your achievements and what are your end goals.
Or if you are a freelancer or creative professional, then you can create a blog or an Instagram account to share your art or writings.
If you’re a senior management professional, someone who would like to take on more challenging roles given their expertise in their field can start by sharing some articles and vlogs, or small posts on their perspectives and insights on various industry-related matters, on LinkedIn.
Personal Brand Tip 4: Network, network, and network
Networking does not just mean finding people who match your industry and sending them connection requests and following them. It goes way beyond that. Find like-minded individuals who might or might not be in the same industry. As I mentioned earlier, your personal brand is Who You Are and not necessarily What You Do.
Send a personalized note to these people when you connect with them. These days most connection requests come with a template message that might seem customized but one look at them and you know these are being sent to tons of people at the same time. Don’t do that. It’s better to send a connection request without a note instead of some cliché that the receiver knows is not meant specifically for them.
When you send someone a connection request, you know why you are connecting with them. Maybe you saw their post or comment on a feed, and you liked how they think. Maybe you find them inspirational or distinguished in their field and hence you want to connect.
So, tell them that when you send the request. Make it more personable. And once you are connected, keep in touch. Comment on their posts, like them, and endorse their skills so that they start remembering you. Create a recall for your personal brand. You want people to remember you for who you are. Keep in touch and make communication meaningful and in line with your personal brand.
Personal Brand Tip 5: What’s your narrative?
Your narrative or your elevator pitch helps people understand you and your story in 60 seconds or less. Create a story or a pitch which you can use to introduce yourself at networking meets or when you are meeting a stakeholder for the first time.
A “set in the stone” intro that starts with your name and title will never hold as much appeal as the story of why you chose your career and what makes you so good at it. Your narrative should be authentic and conversational. It should not be overly dramatic, or something made up to impress. People can tell the difference. So just be you and create a nice pitch that grows on you and the people you share it with.
This piece had to be lengthy. But I am glad you read it through. I started working on my personal brand in 2016 and what I share with you here are my learnings in the process. What appealed to me in others, in thought leaders and people who were great at establishing a personal brand, and what did not appeal to me, as well. I took them all and created this list of 5 tips that you can follow effectively.
One more thing. Nothing is stationary. Everything keeps changing with the tech and algorithms you see in today’s digital space. So, to keep up always make sure you are crafting stories and communication and delivering them through channels or mediums best suited for your target audience.
If your Instagram feed is not getting as many views, move to Instagram reels. If your LinkedIn posts are not getting enough views, mention and tag your connections who might relate to your posts and invite them to share their thoughts. Their engagement will help boost your views as you gain eyeballs from their network, as well.
Stay updated and keep reinventing yourself. Branding is not a one-time, but an ongoing process.
Hi, I am Proma Nautiyal, the founder & owner of DigiWitch. I would like to thank you for reading this post. :) If you liked what you read, please do like and/or share the post. Would truly mean a lot!
And since you read the post, it gives me a pretty good idea that we both have a shared interest in building personal brands. So, if we aren't connected yet, would be glad to connect with you on LinkedIn.