How many personal names are googled every day? Take a guess. One million? Two? Four? Closer to a billion. That’s a seventh of the entire population of the world. Of those billion names, how many draw actual engagement rather than a cursory scan of search results? Ok, I don’t actually have data to confirm this one, but experiential evidence tells me that it’s a fairly small proportion. What does this have to do with you? Nothing, if you’re not interested in using the googlable (spell check tells me that googlable IS a genuine adjective now!) power of your personal brand to get ahead.
Why do you need a personal brand? Can’t you just be yourself, and let the world take you as it finds you? Of course you can! Just as long as you’re presenting yourself in such a way that your essential brilliance is brought out for all to see. Building a personal brand isn’t about plastering on a false front. It’s about clarifying and broadcasting who you really are. It’s about identifying yourself, and letting those who matter know just how useful you could be. Without a bit of personal branding, you risk becoming one of the millions of googled names which get scrolled past without garnering any clicks and clients.
So how do you do it? Here are some hints:
Give It Some Thought
What are you looking to achieve? What kind of attention do you hope to grab with your brand? Once you know what you’re aiming for, tailoring your brand becomes much easier. To make an extreme analogy, there’s no point in building a brand based around your love of kittens if you’re hoping to land a job as an assassin! You should try to craft your brand around the attributes which will prove useful in your intended work.
Engage In Some Self-Scrutiny
Don’t write cheques your mouth can’t cash. Sure, your brand should promote you, but don’t make wild claims which you simply can’t fulfil. Instead, take a long, hard look at yourself, and big up those attributes about which you feel most confident. Pick a set of adjectives describing yourself and your capabilities. Work out how you’re perceived at the moment, and think about what you may need to do in order to close the gap between how people currently see you, and how you wish to be seen. This doesn’t mean changing your entire character – far from it! It simply means learning how to bring out and clarify your favoured brand qualities.
Research The Market
We’re not saying that you should exactly copy the personal branding used by others in your industry. After all, being unique and standing out from the crowd is personal branding 101. But knowing what’s worked and what has not worked in the past will give you a leg-up when you come to craft your own brand.
Create Your Brand
Personal branding is more than just building a pretty looking web-page for yourself. It’s about working out precisely how you need to present every aspect of your being, from hairstyles to social media to your methods of communication. If you’re putting yourself out there as an erudite intellectual, then don’t send emails full of clunky abbreviations and missing punctuation. Again, you don’t have to play an entirely false character – just consistently present yourself as you wish to be seen.
Manage Your Brand
The real legwork of personal branding is in brand management. You have to make sure that everything is consistent, and that everything fits in with the brand plan. Your LinkedIn page, your Twitter feed, and all of your other social media accounts should look similar and be singing from the same hymn sheet. You need to maintain brand synchronicity in order to prevent confusion!