Having a great smile and personality is no longer enough when creating a great first impression. So many consumers, employers and others in the world head to the internet to do some research before making a purchase, hiring a new employee and meeting someone for the first time. That is why knowing how to sell yourself through personal branding will give you an edge over your competition.
What is branding?
There are several different definitions of branding, including some shared by professionals at the School of Visual Arts. Branding is often defined as “uncovering a human truth and then creating something that speaks to that truth.” According to this definition, branding is finding what a person or thing is about, and then creating profiles, images and other marketing tools to help share what the person or thing is truly all about.
Another definition of branding is offered by Elizabeth Talerman, chief executive officer and managing partner of Nucleus, via the School of Visual Arts website. “A brand is a simple mental model that represents, collectively, what people feel, think and say about a product, service or company, and where meaning is established over time through consistent positive experiences and engagements.”
What is branding yourself?
There are many different ways one can brand themselves, including working on an effective marketing strategy to help promote themselves as an individual, businessperson or member of an organization. No matter what your needs are, knowing how to brand yourself will give you an edge over some of your competition.
Just like with a company, product or service, branding yourself is a way of showing others who you are through continual, positive posts, experiences and one-on-one interactions with you. One way to professionally brand yourself is to always look professional, through dressing appropriately and behaving in a manner that gets people to look at you with a respectful eye.
Personal branding is something to keep in mind when working in a position out in the public and in front of others. Think about it. You would not see the CEO of a huge corporation go to work in ripped jeans and a T-shirt. Even on their day off, if they are out in the public eye, they always look presentable. That is why if you want to stay in the public eye and be top on their list when they need something you have to offer, you should always be prepared and always look presentable. Even if you are just going to the grocery store for some milk.
Why brand yourself?
It does not matter if you are looking for a new job or if you are looking to bring on new clients. No matter what you are looking for, there are many reasons why you will want to brand yourself. These are some of those reasons:
- To show off your expertise.
- Publicize your achievements.
- Show people how they can contact you.
- Stay in contact with others in your field.
- Share knowledge with others.
How to brand yourself
There are many different ways and mediums you can create a brand for yourself through. With current technology, it is important you understand how to brand yourself online. Why is that? Because when someone Googles your name, you want all of the results that come up to be consistent and positive.
Since most people conduct online searches before making a decision to buy something or hire someone, having a positive reach online is imperative. This helps you when someone does Google your name, product and/or company.
Here are some steps to help when branding yourself online:
Discover what your personal brand is. To figure this out, ask close family and friends for ten keywords that best describe your qualities and characteristics. The top ones should be your focus for your personal brand.
When creating your personal brand, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my strengths?
- What am I truly passionate about?
- What characteristics do I have that make me unique?
Determine your target. Knowing who your target audience is will help you understand how to market yourself. If you are seeking a job, your target market would be your pool of potential employers in your job field. If you are a real estate agent, your target market might be those living in apartments or in communities with a lot of starter homes. If you are a school teacher, your target market would be students and parents.
It is also a good idea to identify any competition you might have and do some research. Understanding your competitors in your target market will help you improve your own skills and help you understand how to market yourself in a way that will give you an edge over the competition.
Create a brand statement. This is about one to two sentences that completely describes who you are, what you do and how you are unique when compared to your competition.
Put together a plan. Your personal branding plan should include how you plan to communicate with others and spread the word about your brand. This includes setting up profiles on social media networking sites, such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the like.
Consider starting up a blog, website or YouTube channel to help promote and focus on developing your brand.
All of the different methods of sharing your brand with others can be time consuming, but it is the best way to share your ideas, personality and draw attention from those who may be in need of your services.
Keep it up. Even though your social media sites and website are up and running, it does not mean you are done. You are far from being done. It is important to keep things up by continually posting positive items, sharing things of interest to those in your target market and being consistent. Staying consistent will help keep your items fresh on timelines and on search engines, such as Yahoo and Google.
Try sharing things of personal interest to you. This shows you are a human and not a robot. However, to keep a positive brand in a majority of your target market’s mind, it is important to avoid controversial topics which may cause some to stop following you. Also, try to maintain a series of posts that are positive and uplifting. Never bash your competition openly for all to see.
Just as there are many different reasons to brand yourself, there are different branding tactics that will help your personal brand stand out from the rest. These tactics include:
- Choosing the right avatar or using a professional portrait.
- Creating a personal logo.
- Join similar brand-related communities and groups online.
- Help others with tips, links and resources.
- Create an inspiring and professional email signature.
Tips for branding yourself
- Define who you are and become an expert in you and your field.
- Establish a positive online presence.
- Network to generate awareness of your brand.
- Follow the three Cs of branding – clarity, consistency and constancy.
- Get feedback and suggestions from others.
Of course you always want to make a good first impression and as you can see, making that first impression can now be made through properly branding yourself online. By developing your own brand, you are able to show others who you are and why they should hire you, work with you and conduct business with your company. It will help guide their decision long before the two of you are ever in the same room together.