What is Personal Brand - and How Will it Help Me?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘personal brand’ thrown around, but do you actually understand it? Or more importantly, are you utilising it? Chances are, probably not!

So what is a personal brand? In simple terms, your personal brand is how people remember you. It’s how colleagues, potential employers, and clients see you. Everyone has a personal brand, even if you didn’t know it, but not everyone knows how to manage it. 
Your personal brand is unique to you, and by taking control and building your own brand you can choose the values and qualities you want people to associate you with.

You have the ability to portray the best side of yourself, to show potential employers that you are exactly what they are looking for, or show potential clients that you are trustworthy and successful. 
Having a good personal brand can significantly increase your chances of being employed or attracting clients. 
Sound good? Here is our step-by-step guide on how to build a successful personal brand.

In the same way any business plan starts with a vision, your personal brand should start the same way.
What is your goal? Your personal brand can help you find a better job; win over clients; or grow your professional network, but what is it that you really hope to gain from having a good personal brand?
Once you have a vision you can then tailor your brand to what you need to portray in order to achieve that goal, this is your opportunity to show people your values and passions.
Remember - your personal brand is how you display yourself to other people, so it’s important to know what you want to portray depending on the end goal.

It’s impossible to appeal to everyone, and whilst we may be used to tailoring CV’s and applications to different jobs and companies, your personal brand is universal. When building your brand, you need to decide who your target audience will be. Whilst you may not be able to individually tailor your brand to different individuals, the advantage of a strong targeted personal brand is that when you are connecting with your chosen target audience you are much more likely to appear well-rounded; connected; and over-all more convincing in that field compared to your competitors. Going back to step one, in order to correctly identify your target audience, it is important to know your end goal.

Online (and Offline) Assets
So you know what you want to achieve, and who your target audience is - but how do you actually begin communicating this?
This is where your online assets come in, your online assets are anything you own that allows you to communicate your brand message to your target audience on an online platform. Offline assets work in the same way, only they are offline. 
Online assets can be anything from your own website, blog, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile. All of these outlets allow you to share your personality, business values, passions and goals which are all key parts of your personal brand.

According to SHRM, 84% of hiring managers use social media to hire - 96% use LinkedIn, 66% use Facebook, and 53% use Twitter. This is why it’s incredibly important for your digital footprint to be as good as it can be, your online assets can make or break your brand.

The first thing to consider is your name. From your email address to social media usernames, your name is the first thing people know about you so make sure it comes across as professional. It goes without saying that ‘cooldude32@gmail.com’ isn’t an appropriate work email address (or personal one for that matter!) and the same applies for usernames. The best choice of username is your first and last name, however if that isn’t available you may be tempted to try names like ‘MarketingPhil’ or ‘Josie_PR’. Whilst these names are still professional, the problem you are faced with is it limits you to that sector. Should you wish to change job at any point you may struggle to transfer your brand if people still know you as ‘Josie_PR’. This is yet another reason to refer back to your end goal, if you are using your brand to excel in a career you love then this may not be too much of a problem, but if you are looking for a change you should steer clear of anything that limits you to one profession. 

Once you have set up your accounts, the next aim is to start building and joining social communities. This is your first step to networking - but not in the traditional sense. The great thing about social media is that it allows you to connect with your peers along with your superiors and/or clients, but on a much more personal level. Whilst it is important to remain professional online (… remember never post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to know), you have the freedom to be a little more personal and show what you are really like behind the CV’s and job titles. 

In terms of actual content, there are lots of different avenues to explore. You have a blank canvas to demonstrate what makes you the cream of the crop, so use it! Depending on what field you are in, your content can vary, but try and play to your strengths and offer something that isn’t already out there. Your output of content can be via YouTube, writing your own blog, broadcasting podcasts and so on, but to take on all of these options would be A LOT of work and will most likely end in a sparsity of content across a variety of channels. Instead, focus on a particular output and make that your strength, you can always expand later. 

You are now up and running, its time to expand your brand and build relationships that will lead to those all important opportunities. 
Whilst you can build your audience through your online assets, it does no harm taking a ‘fast-track’ option by exposing yourself to established company audiences. The easiest way to do this is to get these existing sources to share the content from your site, however this isn’t always the easiest option. 
There are a number of websites that will accept guest posts, and often all it takes is a well-worded email asking if you can write a piece for them. As long as you have chosen a site that is in the same niche as you, then it’s a fairly simple option to expanding your core audience.

Another way to expand your connections is to contribute to research articles or interviews, authors/bloggers/journalists are always looking for expert opinions and contributions. It takes minimal time but it all counts to building a reputable personal brand.

Once your personal brand is at an established level you are happy with, make sure you maintain it! The industry you are in will keep changing and growing, and no doubt you will too as your career progresses - so don’t let your brand fall behind. Regularly monitoring your online presence is easily done, but is also easily neglected. You may have found your perfect role, but it is still worth building connections and being active online as you never know what is around the corner.

Are you working on growing your personal brand? Building your online presence and producing content? Tweet us a link at @OrchardTweets, we’ll check it out and you may even get a retweet or shout out! 


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