A personal brand is not a one and done event in your life; it is an exercise that you will always be tweaking and adjusting. We, as humans, grow and change, that is a good thing! Your personal brand should grow and change as you do. Below are 6 steps you can take to start building your personal brand.
1) Determine Your Values
This is the time to ask yourself some tough questions. Such as what is important to you and what do you want out of life? Those might be a little broad and overwhelming so break it down even further. Is work life balance important to you and if so what does it look like or do you want to have a family and how does your career play into that? These thoughts will kickstart you on a rabbit hole of life’s most pondered questions, but the reality is that it is critical to be honest with yourself as you’re creating a roadmap for your life.
2) Do an Online Audit of Yourself
This can be scary for some, but it is really important. Once you start getting an idea of your brand and how you want to move forward take a peek at what others see of you online; you may surprise yourself! I suggest doing this from someone else’s computer or going on the “incognito” setting on your browser and googling yourself. Click all the links that come up as well as check out the images tab on Google, you never know what you will find. Make sure that if there are any images that you don’t feel reflect your personal brand or even things that you might have thought were private but are not, adjust your settings on your social platforms to a higher privacy setting. Complete this process until you feel comfortable with the results.
3) Two-Way Networking
Depending on who you ask, everyone has a different perspective on networking in their approach and their goals. Your personal brand helps your networking in many ways. When you meet people not only at a prescribed networking events but also just in everyday life, you know what your value proposition is; so share it! Two way networking is going into the situation with a long term view – what you can give equally as what you will get out of networking, hence the “two-way” aspect of it. Through this you will get your name out there and down the line, believe me, that contact that you invested in for months/years will pay off. If nothing else you will make a friend! Using this as a continual process, you will also start to see a trend of the connections that you’re making and what prompted you to make that connection. Likely this will come out as part of you brand and value proposition.
4) Develop Your Value Proposition
It can seem a little overwhelming to think about your “value proposition” but it is a critical component to your personal brand. Try breaking it down into bite sized pieces. Start first by referring back to your values. What aspects of work and life are really important to you. Perhaps you had decided that having a very international life and career is something that drives you. This can also be your value proposition. You are experienced in cross cultural business as well as very open to travel, putting yourself outside your comfort zone and perhaps you speak another language. This is a very strong value proposition for your brand. You can do this for all of your values and essentially turn them into value propositions as a part of your branding efforts. These are areas in which you can stand out and add value to not only a company but also projects and individual relationships both professional and personal.
5) Become a Trusted Source
Once you hone in on your value proposition, you will likely start to see themes. These themes are going to develop into areas in which you are a subject matter expert. These areas could include technical skills in which you are an expert or soft skills such as team building, coaching or other skills where you will become a trusted source. Being a trusted source is a pillar in personal branding, this is, more or less, personal branding in action! You know your brand is strong when things that you have identified as strengths in yourself become things for which people seek you out. As a tangible example, perhaps you have identified that coaching is an area that you value and are honing it in as part of your value proposition. You know that your brand is in full swing when peers or supervisors reach out to you to mentor and coach new associates at your company. From another angle if coaching was not something that you had identified but you do enjoy it and have been asked on many occasions to be a part of coaching efforts, consider dialing in on it and making it one of your value propositions and areas of expertise.
6) Be Visible and Accessible
Now that the bulk of the work has been done in developing your personal brand from the ground up you should use it to your advantage to get your best results. Go to networking events, post on linked in and/or other social media platforms in ways that are in line with the personal brand that you have created. If someone reaches out to you for an informational meeting or a simple get together, accept! What good is a brand if you have no one to share it with? By being visible and accessible both online and in real life (#IRL) you will continue to solidify your brand and plants seeds for relationships and new opportunities.
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Author: Annika Friesen