Branding is a powerful tool that allows consumers to anthropomorphize different companies. Some of the most successful companies stay in the public eye because of their strong branding and iconic imagery. But this isn’t limited to large companies. With some careful planning, you can create a curated digital presence through personal branding.

Using technology, potential employers and customers can learn all about you without ever meeting you. With that in mind, it’s better to control that image yourself. How do you want to be viewed? No matter where you’re at in your career, controlling your own narrative can be the key to living the life you desire. We’ll explore why it’s so important to build your brand and what you can do to present yourself in the best possible way.

Why does it matter?

Think of a celebrity, whether you like them or not. Think about the traits you associate with them. You’ve likely never met this person, but you have an opinion of them based on these perceived traits. That’s the power of personal branding, and it’s reasonable to assume you’d rather have people thinking positively about you.

Harrison Monarth sees the difference between reputation and personal brand as intentionality. Your reputation is based on first impressions and the relationships you’ve formed. Personal branding is about creating your narrative and deciding what you want to present.

Renderforest lists three keys benefits of having a well-defined personal brand:

Raising self-awareness: Taking a look inward will give you a deeper understanding of your strengths and weakness and the value you can bring to others. Once you understand this yourself, you can better market what you have to offer.

Build trust and credibility: If you’re putting forth a consistent and accurate message, you’ll appear much more credible. With the traits you’ve chosen to define you at the front, people will look to you as an expert where it matters.

Grow your network: If you’ve built trust and credibility, you’ll come to be viewed as an expert in your niche. This will lead to others reaching out to you and looking for your expertise.

Finally, according to Medium, as of 2020, 43% of the workforce in the US is made of freelancers and contract workers. If your name is your business, it’s crucial to have a strong personal brand to keep growing.

How to build your personal brand

You already have a personal brand whether you realize it or not, but it’ll take some self-scouting to craft the image you want. Mac Prichard suggests doing a self-audit and asking others for objective feedback. Do a deep dive on search engines to see what pops up when you search for yourself and make sure your social media pages are “clean.” Then, talk to people you know and see what you’re known for. You can use anonymous tools to make sure you get honest feedback.

“You may be tagged in a video on Facebook where you’re singing Happy Birthday offkey. Funny and harmless—except if that’s the first thing an employer sees when searching for a serious, competent business leader.” -Mac Prichard

Next, decide how you want to be defined and what your goals are. How do you want to be known? Whether you’re a charismatic salesperson, a master of a specific technology, or an expert in handling conflict resolution, you want to have a clearly defined niche. The more specific that niche, the better. We recently covered the idea of the elevator pitch—a short summary of who you are and what you can offer. This is the core of your personal brand.

After these steps, you should have an idea of how you’re currently viewed and how you’d like to be viewed. The next step, according to Anders Hjorth, is to build your assets. What resources do you need to increase your visibility and your credibility?

You can not like social media, but it pays (sometimes literally) to have the right profiles. Depending on your industry, you may also want your own website to showcase your work or a portfolio filled with previous projects.

Make sure those profiles are working for you through careful design. Make sure your profiles will get noticed and make people want to contact you.

At the end of this process, Mac Prichard says to go all out. Once you’ve built a brand you’re happy with, steer into it. Exude confidence and don’t be afraid to show off your personality.

“You’ve done the work to know who you are and what you bring to the workplace. When you are clear and convinced that you’re a valuable and effective contributor, that message shines through. Your professional brand should convince others that you think you’re the best candidate for the job, and they should too!” -Mac Prichard

Wrap up

Standing out for the right reasons is the key to succeeding in the business world. Creating a clearly defined niche and becoming an expert will grow your network, help build great relationships, and assist you in finding your dream career. Playing an active role in crafting your personal brand is the first step, and the benefits are endless!

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