We share a lot of personal information online every day. Intended or not, we are creating an online representation of ourselves with every like, share and comment. The main question is really, what do you reveal about yourself and how planned do you share information?
Having no online presence at all isn’t desirable either. It leaves questions why you haven’t appeared or worked on anything online related. You are also missing out on a great way to leave a positive impression with future employers or business partners. The ideal way, as it appears, is to find your personal “Goldilocks zone” - not too much, not too little.
Any branding should aim to be distinct and easily identifiable among others. The same applies when it comes to personal branding. It doesn't matter if you are actively looking for a new job (or not), hoping to be promoted to a higher position or aiming to become the next CEO of your organization. No matter what your exact career goal is at the end: it usually pays off to look closely at the impression that you leave in the public. This way you can make sure you are ready for future opportunities.
Your personal brand needs to be clear, it also needs to be engaging. The average attention span for your first online impression is around 20 seconds. If you haven’t convinced to continue investing more time at this point you might lose out on an opportunity. Following you can find five basic steps to kick-start your personal branding.
Define Your Values and Goals
What crosses the minds of your target audience when they hear about you and your previous work? Will they see you as an ambitious specialist or a jack of all trades? Will they see you as a motivated trustworthy partner, you can also laugh with and have a beer on Fridays after work? Do they see what you are passionate about? It comes down to the question of what defines you? Spare a minute of your time to digest these questions before proceeding to the next step - getting the signaling right here is key to a successful online brand.
If you are in doubt, you can compare existing profiles of experts in your industry and identify what they have in common and what separates them. At the end, you will have a mix of these to give your personal brand a distinct look and feel.
The first and the most important step in creating your brand is to know your area of expertise and identifying how you would wish to be seen as. This is naturally very industry-dependent and the presentation itself as well as the way it’s done need to align. For example, as a software engineer, you want to be seen as detail-oriented, supportive and as a problem-solver. A broken personal website or unfinished projects wouldn’t set you in the right light. Your selection of tools might get judged as well.
Find Your Distinctive Look
To build a successful brand, you need to be recognized. You can achieve this with given color, slogan, font, etc. Therefore, your websites, social profiles, blogs, business cards, and all other marketing material should have one common theme. A professional designer can help you achieve this easily, even with if your budget is small.
If you decide to design your distinctive appearance yourself, you should choose a font and size to use on across your whole brand. Same goes for preferred graphics, symbols and colors. While taking inspiration from others, make sure that your brand is unique and represents you and only you.
If you are working in an office environment, you can also extend this to the way you dress. Steve Jobs had his turtlenecks, Bill Gates usually wears usually neat & simple suits and Mark Zuckerberg is known for his gray shirts and hoodies. Consistency and having a unique look pay off.
That, however, doesn’t imply that you put on rugs or tattered clothes to be unique in a crowd. You only need to come up with a decent look which speaks the same language with your brand, and you should always remember to look confident and fashionable in your outfits. Everything that you put on should echo the same professional message that you are hoping to spread.
Align Everything For Your Personal Brand
The distinct look and feel of your personal brand should be consistent across all the tools you are using. If you are using business cards, social media profiles and a website make sure they look like there are from the same person instead of three different people. Below you find collected thoughts on bringing the elements together and what to keep in mind for each.
Business cards & Letterheads: Business cards have been used in business for a long time. Most companies use some sort of business cards for their employees. But this doesn’t mean you can’t just use them for your personal branding and networking. Make sure to keep it brief and include some title or very short description of expertise. Letterheads and footers follow the same basic idea as business cards. You give basic information about yourself and put the information you present in the right context.
Professional headshots: Look for a professional photographer for some quality headshots. Discuss with him or her about the purpose of the photos and arrange an appointment. The money on professional headshots is usually well-spent.
Email: A professional email address is key for your communications and is required to create social media profiles for yourself. Its importance in branding should not be overlooked. Choose Gmail for your email address, if you are not using your own domain name as it is easy to integrate it with Google, Google Hangouts, Google Calendar, etc. Your address should take this form ”[firstname].[lastname]@gmail.com” as most people either start typing your first name or your last name when they are sending you an email. With the pattern above you will be found either way. Make it easy to be found. If you are intending to use your own domain name (more about this later) follow “[firstname]@yourdomain.com” to keep it personal. If you decide on using email using your own domain you can use Zoho Mail or Gmail Suite for a small monthly fee. Don’t forget to write an engaging footer mentioning your blog/website.
Website/blog: One of the best ways to get recognized as a professional is maintaining a source of reference in the form of a website or blog. You don’t need to go over the top, one decent piece of information every month will already out-compete most competitors as they don’t share anything. Creating a single-page website with a blog section will do the trick. However, it should show professionalism and relay all the basic information about you such as a short biography, CV, photos, and relevant links to social media platforms. There are a number of platforms to build a website with. A simple search for “website builder” will lead you to various options. More about finding the right name will be discussed in the next section. Depending on your industry, it might make sense to add a case-study section or add photos of your work. It doesn’t hurt to get creative as long as it’s aligned with your brand.
Social media profiles: Take your personal brand to some of the high-traffic social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Fill all the profile details professionally and tailor it to match your brand. To get the images sizes right you can either use PhotoPea or ask your designer to provide the right sizes directly.
What you post on your business wall should always be professional and follow your branding intend, any photos or phrases that will tarnish your brand should be avoided. Post things which are informational and add value to your business. You can also use the security features that are built within these sites to stop friends or any other person from tagging you in their posts without your permission.
Remember that all the Twitter posts are publicly visible and may be seen by anyone who searches for your name in Google. Also, be careful with any comments you make on YouTube videos as they are also visible on your profile.
Make Sure You are Found
Most personal branding uses your full name or a variation close to it. This gives you a canvas to draw on. Selling your products and services under your real name instead of a company can give it a personal touch.
Most simple and efficient would be [firstname][lastname].com (e.g. “JohnDoe.com”). Unless you have a very distinct name the chances to actually get this domain name are slim. If your full name isn’t distinct enough, you may want to consider using your middle names (or the first letter of your middle name) since they make the combination more uncommon. With the first letter of the middle name “Frederic”, you would get “JohnFDoe.com” for the example above. Alternatively, industries or professions might work well too. For example “JohnDoePhD.com” or “JohnDoeEngineering.com”. If you can’t go with “.com” a country domain name is usually a good call (e.g. “.de” for Germany or “.fr” for France).
To present yourself in a professional way you should consider registering/tidying up your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at least. Make sure to use the same profile picture and custom cover images for each. Go through and delete any posts which might hold you back from your goals. Once you have done these had over to niche sites you are using regularly.
To avoid spending hours to try out combinations you should use a helper. A name check service for usernames and domain names can come in very handy here. It allows you to check multiple names for available domains as well as usernames on social media sites at once.
Start Communicating Using Your Brand
Once you have built your brand, it is time to tell people about it. You will need to create some awareness for yourself to be recognized! Stay active on social media, create content and of course share it. Reference back to your blog/website when it makes sense. You can start by publishing thought-provoking masterpieces on LinkedIn and also create a fan base for all your writings exploiting already existing contacts.
The limits here are really at your creativity and effort you put in.
Creating a brand ‘me’ will give you a better understanding of yourself, your stance, and objectives. On
Not only will his enable you to see light at the end of the tunnel in your career journey, but it also makes people recognize your ability.