All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
– Tom Peters in Fast Company
It’s hard to say it better than Tom Peters: You can’t expect anyone, other than you, to look after your career. There are many things you can do to aid in the development of a successful career. One of those things is to intentionally cultivate your personal brand. Essentially, your personal brand is your professional reputation and the version of yourself that the world sees. Your personal brand will not only illustrate your unique skills and talents, it will also show organizations and hiring managers your potential for fitting in with their culture by showing glimpses of your personality and work style. Just like any brand, you need to tie it all together and promote it in a variety of ways. Here are some tips to develop your personal brand, bring all of its elements together, and make it appealing:
- Make sure you have an account on the major social media platforms. The main ones to focus on as of the time of writing are LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. However, depending on what you do, Facebook and other platforms may also be important. You should be consistent across all platforms in your voice and persona so you don’t look schizophrenic or inconsistent to people researching you. You should also be consistent in the skill set you present across platforms: you don’t want to say you’re a UX expert on LinkedIn and not mention it anywhere on Twitter.
- Have professional images. This isn’t to say that you can’t post informal snapshots as well, but a healthy balance of the two will really polish your online presence. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, either. You can get an inexpensive headshot taken and a local department store or camera shop, and this small investment can give your brand and job hunt a huge boost. Also, when possible, include pictures of yourself on the job or in professional settings. This will show you’re career-minded and demonstrate your enthusiasm.
- Don’t be offensive or unprofessional. Stay away from expletives, inappropriate pictures, or strong opinions on controversial subjects. These things don’t get most of us opportunities for career promotion. Hiring managers are typically looking for professional, responsible people who can collaborate productively with coworkers.
- Check in frequently on social media channels and be active across all platforms you participate in. Like, comment, and engage with others in your target industry on a regular basis to build out your network and show your passion for the field and being an active member of it. You also don’t want to miss out on a big opportunity because you didn’t check in.
- Use keywords in your LinkedIn profile and professional Facebook and Twitter accounts to boost your SEO. This means including as many search engine-friendly terms that apply to your skill set and experience as possible, and using them multiple times without going overboard. If you are a paid media specialist, make sure to include that phrase and any related terms at least once in each of your online profiles, as well as in the content you post. Include relevant hashtags in your posts, too. If hiring managers perform searches for those terms on these platforms, or through search engines, this will ensure that your profile appears on their screen and increases your chances of getting a call.
- Speaking of LinkedIn, get endorsements on your skills on LinkedIn and ask for recommendations from present and former bosses, supervisors, colleagues, etc. Don’t be shy about asking these people to help you out. After all, they almost certainly received help from others in building their careers. Having others’ testimonies to your skills and work ethic displayed publicly on LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool in strengthening your personal brand and getting noticed by the right people in your field.
- If you don’t have one already, it may be a good idea to set up a professional website where you can keep a blog, list your achievements, and store an online portfolio. This is particularly helpful for those in creative fields. The same rules apply here as to social media platforms: make sure it looks professional and use those keywords to boost your chances of getting noticed. Having your own personal website to put on business cards or to link to on your LinkedIn profile shows that you are a serious professional who takes initiative and has a lot of pride in oneself.
Developing and maintaining a carefully curated personal brand can be one of the most valuable components in building your career. If done well, it will always benefit you and never hurt you.
Have you found other strategies in building a personal brand to be helpful? Let us know in the comments section below!
For more tips on cultivating a great LinkedIn profile that gets noticed, check out our post on 7 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile.