Updated: Jul 22, 2020
To build your brand, it is necessary to know who you are and how you want people to see you, you need to be genuine, tell your story. You are not building a character; you are showing your true self. You need to be clear about your strengths and areas of growth. Have a vision of where your brand is going moving forward. Your personal day to day interactions need to reflect this, people that come in contact with you need to see it, and your online presence needs to reflect it. Ask your family or friends for feedback. Once you have figured this out, that’s when the real work begins.
Know what’s out there. Do some research on yourself and see what comes up. Don’t be afraid to find negative things, your past can not be rewritten, but it can be refocused. You may find some old local newspaper article about your school science fair, blog posts from your philosophy class in freshman year, or maybe some news about that arrest that later was thrown out. Negative attacks on a post made by your ex, a leaked image that you did not want anyone to see. There are plenty of things that you may find, but know that no matter what you find, there are ways of cleaning up your searches or refocusing the negatives. For example, Google has a list of things they will remove upon request and recommendations on how to get other results removed. There are also services that can help you filter your searches and flag items for deletion.
Study and understand your audience. Like with any brand awareness building, we need to showcase our brand to an audience. As a leader, your immediate audience is your team and your manager, but also external people such as people who are searching the organization, or that meet you at a networking event, or that found you through a social media search of your workplace. It is important that your personal brand represents not only you but your business. You need to be aware at all times that your brand will be scrutinized by your employees, because they need you to be true to your brand to respect you, to follow you. It will be scrutinized by your managers because your brand represents them and the organization. How your brand performs will allow them to consider you for promotions and raises. And ultimately it will be scrutinized by anyone you meet in the professional setting, as a LinkedIn study showed, “people are 3x more likely to trust company information from employees than from the CEO”.
Boost your biography. When building your personal brand, your biography is your brand’s description. Pour into it your experiences, your goals, your achievements, your strengths, and everything that makes up your brand, what makes you, YOU. Your goals will indicate what your brand is moving towards. Your achievements indicate what your brand has been through. Your strengths are “added value” that will indicate what your brand can do for others, showcase it, bring to light why you are the one that people should rely upon, why you are the one to consult with on a topic, set yourself as an expert.
Use your online presence to make yourself known. Put your biography out there. Showcase the positive and highlight the relevance of your brand. Build a personal website where you can showcase yourself, use your Social Media profile to engage with your peers or like-minded organizations. Write articles and blog posts that showcase your expertise. Collaborate with others in your field. Share blog posts, articles, tools, and ideas with others.
Set yourself apart from the rest! Be a strong voice in your field so other professionals see you as an expert. Build your credibility through your work; but also, through what you are putting on the web, social media, printed media, or speaking engagements. Volunteer to take on tasks that will make you excel, help others succeed, create, or share relevant content. Use your knowledge to create content that will allow others to grow. Share content on your social media pages such as LinkedIn or ask your manager if you can share on your company's website.
Audit your work. Once your word is out there, as with any project, you need to do an audit, evaluate the work, make course corrections if needed. Look at how people engage with your content throughout the many platforms, evaluate your success, adjust, and do it again. Set yourself as an expert, set yourself apart from the rest!
As leaders, we need to be able to guide and inspire others while at the same time allowing ourselves to grow and evolve. Our personal brand will always be a work in progress, it will change as our mindset changes, it evolves as our knowledge grows. Keep moving, keep evolving, keep building your biography so that your personal brand inspires those who follow you. Open a browser, type your name, and see what comes up. Begin your personal branding today.