In today’s unstable job market, full of limitations and anxiety (but also full of hope and a few choice opportunities), simply looking for a job or applying for one isn’t enough anymore. While you may have heard of personal branding before and dismissed it as a fancy waste of time, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with this concept: you’re going to need to brand yourself professionally as soon as possible. Few things can be more effective in boosting your career than understanding the mechanism of marketing yourself and applying them correctly. Here is all you need to know, in a nutshell.
What Does Building Your Personal Brand Mean?
There are many terms referring to this sustained activity of personal branding, and most of them are equivalent (or almost equivalent if we are to use these terms in a scholarly setting, but irrelevant to our purposes here). Whether you call it career branding or self branding, the first thing you need to know about it is that it is mostly about upping your game professionally-wise. We all know how important our image as employees or experts is, but most of us only look after it by avoiding to make any bigger-than-average mistakes. Well, that’s definitely not enough anymore. When everyone else is upping their game, so must you, in order to remain competitive and to manage to let people know just what a competent professional you are. This is exactly what personal branding is all about.
According to its various definitions, personal or career branding refers to the sustained activity of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others, about yourself as a professional. The same process of branding can apply to an entire group of people or to an organization, but in this post we will focus on the individual level. A better way to look at branding yourself as a double activity:
- On one hand, there is an imaginary component to personal branding, one made of up the great qualities you want people to associate with you as a professional. These can be also expressed through actual visuals or branding words, as well as an overall good professional reputation.
- On the other hand, there is a very real and verifiable component to branding: this is made out of cold hard facts about your professional activity so far, your achievements and so on. The great image which you are projecting as part of your self branding must be based on the truth and on measurable, proven skills and abilities. Authenticity is the key to a sustainable branding.
Top 5 Personal Branding Tips & Tricks
This means that in order to have better chances of being remembered in your networking circles and of making a lasting good impression whenever a potential employer reviews your CV, then you need to start building your personal brand asap. Here are the main tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Think of your professional persona as a brand. Think of 2 or 3 key concepts that define the way you want people to see you in your line of work. If you can also come up with a special logo or design for your cover letter, business cards and so on, it would be great, but take care not to overdo it.
- Make your personal brand appropriate to your niche. Only you know exactly what people are looking for in your line of work, so you need to make sure your personal brand reflects precisely those qualities. If you’re in a creative profession, then your brand needs to be really different and unique. If you’re in a more settled down profession, like business management, for example, then tone down the creativity unless you want to give off the wrong kind of vibes.
- Audit your online presence. You need to monitor every instance where your name is mentioned on the internet, so you can control the kind of image you have online. You can be sure that your potential employer will do the same kind of research about you, so it’s best to keep a close watch on what your online presence says. Also, if you want your online personal brand to say better things, then work on improving your performance and on adding more value to your work.
- Create your personal website. This is an ideal medium to keep track of your accomplishments, your resume, links to your social platforms and a background which displays the visuals you decided on when building your personal brand in the first place. Also, if possible, try to associate yourself with other strong brands (if you graduated from a particularly well-respected college or worked with a big company at some point, make sure you capitalize on it).
- Keep updating and sharing info in a purposeful way. A personal brand, no matter how well-built, will wither if you don’t keep your presence updated regularly. This isn’t just about keeping your website updated, but also about sharing relevant info on your social media profiles, like linking to the latest study which could have an impact on your work niche and so on. The idea is for people to see that you are the type of professional that never stops trying to improve themselves. That is the perfect personal branding strategy you could ever employ.
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