Before the age of social media, personal branding wasn’t a thing — at least not for the masses. Your reputation was your personal brand, and it’s still a huge part of it today. Like your reputation, your personal brand is about who you are and what you have to offer; however, personal branding is a proactive process that allows you to control how you’re perceived in the market.
There are plenty of resources available to help you create and grow your personal brand on social media, and that’s important. However, if you want your personal brand to positively impact your career, your opportunities, your business, and your relationships in real life, it must extend beyond how you look and what you say on social media. Off the screen, here are a few ways you build a strong personal brand:
- Choose Your Superpower. What do you want to be known for? How are you different than other professionals in the same space? Maybe you’re really funny or personable in an industry that has a reputation for being a little dry, or maybe you’re the go-to person for fixing problems. Identify one thing that sets you apart from your peers, and build your personal brand around it. If you’re stuck on what that is, ask others.
- Live Your Personal Brand. Your social media profiles should be a reflection of your personal brand, not a creation of it. Personal branding is about communicating your skills, sharing your values, and showing your personality. It should be reflected in your actions and the way you engage and communicate with others – on and offline. Inconsistencies in your brand persona and others’ personal experiences with you can do serious damage. You’ve probably heard plenty of stories about doctors with unhealthy habits, financial advisors deeply in debt, or law enforcement officers who break the law. Your personal brand is just as much about what you do and how you live as it is about what you say and how you look.
- Experience First, Brand Second. Don’t create a personal brand out of nothing because you think you need to have one. Take time to develop your skills, learn from others, build relationships and acquire expertise you can share. The first five years of your career (or maybe longer) shouldn’t be about promoting your personal brand. Personal brands are more genuine and easier to create and grow when they serve others, which leads to the next point…
- Add Value. Strong personal brands are not about self promotion, they’re about serving others. How are you adding value? Ask yourself this question before any personal branding endeavor, and make sure you offline and online focus on serving others sync up.
- Invest in Your Brand. Personal branding isn’t easy. It is proactive, deliberate and requires a time (and sometimes financial) investment to get it right. Educate yourself on how to build a strong personal brand, research your ideal audience and how you can best serve them, and develop content that reflects your values and shares your knowledge.
Your personal brand is yours to create, own, and grow. No one can take it away from you, and it can be very powerful. But it’s about much more than your social media profiles. Take the time to identify who you are, what you stand for, and how you can serve others. Use those elements to develop your personal brand, and it will take you beyond social media to new opportunities, relationships, and experiences.