How and Why You Should Build a Personal Brand
Standing out online is important and building a personal brand is a great way to do that. Let's say you find the perfect job; you’re not the only person going for it. Employers have to go through hundreds of résumés in a hunt for the right person, so anything that sets you apart improves your chances.
A question you might already have: Is this worth doing? What can a personal brand do for you? Personally, building a personal brand got me a job. Twice. It’s also worth saying that you don’t need to build a massive following on social media or be internet-famous in order to make this work for you. If you're interested in developing your personal brand, take a look at the following 6 tips below.
1. Understand what you want to achieve
A personal brand isn’t too different from the brand a company would use. It can make you:
- Easily recognizable
- Appear consistent
- More approachable - a potential employer will have a better idea of what sort of person you are
The feedback I have had from previous managers is that my résumé and covering letter were fine, but what I had online reflected interests outside of my industry and showed I was learning new things. That was what made me worth inviting in for an interview.
2. Decide how you want to come across online
Your personal brand shouldn’t be completely different to how you actually are in person, but there are certain things you can decide to focus on over others. This will build your tone of voice and affect how you appear online. Are you going to share things you find on social media with comments that give your opinion? How vocal will you be about things that excite or upset you? What sort of language will you use and avoid? Which other people do you engage with online?
Decide how much you want to show yourself to be:
- Fun and playful
- Politically engaged
Hand-picked related content: 5 JOB SEEKING MYTHS
3. Find a place to house your brand
This can either be a website that you’ve built or a specific social network that you prefer. Some examples:
- For creatives: A simple yet creative portfolio website
- For business-minded people: LinkedIn
- For musicians: Facebook page
- For journalists/authors: Twitter
If you are based mainly on your own website, use social networks to promote that content and get people to visit. If you are based on Facebook, use Twitter to regularly encourage people to see content on your Facebook page.
4. Be consistent across online platforms
Keeping all of your content exactly the same is actually not the aim here – different social networks need slightly different content. Twitter will limit what you can say, Facebook invites you to be a bit more informal, and it’s appropriate to be a lot more professional and neutral on LinkedIn.
Areas that you can be consistent with are however:
- Biography – If you describe yourself one way on one network and another somewhere else, it can require a bit of extra research on the part of the employer just to make sure you’re the same person on both platforms
- Profile picture – It helps if this is similar across different networks too, or if you carry elements from one elsewhere. If you have an illustrative avatar on Twitter for example, you might want to include that as part of your cover photo on Facebook.
- Tone of voice – Despite tweaking content for different networks, there should still be some consistency with what you’ve already established
5. Use your personal brand to tell stories
Your brand allows you to not just share other people’s content, but it makes your own content more compelling. You will be surprised at how much people can want to hear about your:
- Insights and experience
There might be elements of this that you restrict as part of your own personal brand guidelines – maybe you limit talking about your successes because you don’t want to appear to be bragging, or maybe there are some struggles that you’re just not comfortable talking about. Deciding what you want to say is all part of the personal branding and you don’t have to follow what anybody else tells you to do in this area – doing what you are comfortable with is crucial.
6. Persist and don’t give up
It takes a bit of time to get anything out of this beyond the satisfaction of having a tidy internet presence. You also probably won’t know that this has been worth it until after it has helped you get a job somewhere and even then, that feedback might just never come to you. As long as it is reflecting who you are and what you are striving for, then it's a job well done!
Have you already built a personal brand? Drop us a message in the comments and let us know what you decided to do!