Get Started on Your Personal Brand
Considering how important your personal brand is to your career, your business and even personal happiness, it’s remarkable how little time we spend on something that can be so meaningful. But the importance of marketing yourself, whether as an entrepreneur or as a valuable member of the workforce, is becoming abundantly clear. Building a personal brand is an investment in yourself and your future.
At PressFriendly, we’ve worked with founders and CEOs who had previously sublimated their own personal brand in order to promote their company. What we have shown them is that promoting yourself and your leadership only strengthens your company. Building a personal brand adds to the work you want to promote and should be taken seriously.
Creating a personal identity doesn’t happen overnight, and it can feel daunting to build your presence from the ground up. Be sure to address these four important components of branding yourself to make sure you’re starting on a solid foundation.
Define Your Brand
When a company begins a branding initiative, they spend months and even years strategizing, executing, testing and reconfiguring their approach. The first step is always to define your brand and your message.
Ask yourself: Who are you? What are you focused on? What do you want to be? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your passions and how do they help shape your identity?
Make a list of the qualities you identify with -- artistic, data-driven, health-conscious, analytical -- and the industries that you’re passionate about -- technology, digital marketing, food and beverage. Avoid broad concepts that everyone can identify with, such as "ambitious" or "creative," and try to get to the heart of the specific, quantifiable things that make you tick.
Research likeminded people who have created online brands and take note of why they speak to you and what they’re doing that’s successful. Think about how you want your audience to feel and how you want your brand to evolve as it grows. Most importantly, be genuine and be yourself. Respect your audience -- they can tell when you’re faking it.
Just because it’s a personal brand doesn’t mean you should wing it. Set solid quarterly goals. Begin with tangible goals for your own performance. Decide how often you will share brand-appropriate content on your social media channels, how often you’ll post on your blog or, if relevant, share email updates on projects. Apply the research you gathered from influencers you admire and make a list of definitive goals with hard numbers. “Post on my blog more” is not a goal. “Post on my blog two times per week” is a goal.
In the second quarter, start to shift your goal focus to external metrics. How many followers do you want to hit? At what rate do you want your audience to grow? What can you do to achieve that? Once you’ve built the foundation for your presence by achieving the goals you set in the first quarter, you can begin to tailor it to your reception. Make note of when you hit certain goals and don’t view any missed milestones as failures but, instead, as learning experiences. Not only will this allow you to flesh out your messaging, but it’ll keep you focused and informed for building future strategies.
This is where you really need to treat the task of marketing yourself as a job. It’s hard to pinpoint your successes and misses if you’re not keeping a close eye on your activity and how your audience responds to it.
Track everything you do. Use a social media app that schedules posts and keeps track of metrics. Monitor your blog activity and note which posts are performing well. When you’re marketing for a company, you track the return on investment (ROI) on every effort exhaustively -- you need to do the same for your personal brand. The data you collect is essential for future goal-setting and keeping the momentum moving forward when you start to hit important milestones. Ensure your efforts aren’t wasted and you’re not missing any opportunities.
It can feel like everything you’re doing when you’re building your personal brand is happening in a vacuum, especially when you’re starting out. Responses will be few and far between. It’s particularly important during this phase to actively seek out feedback. Ask trusted friends, family members, mentors and anyone you know who has had success building their brand for honest critiques about your efforts.
Tell people what you’re doing and what your goals are for the future, and find out if your message is coming across. Ask them: Are you pushing too much? Not enough? Pay close attention to what people are saying and don’t get defensive when you hear something you don’t like. As always, take diligent notes on all the feedback you receive and use that data to align your goals and how you plan to tailor your approach in the future.
I’ve found that people often don’t take their personal brand seriously enough, but today, it’s essential in many fields to have a presence on social and digital channels to set yourself apart. Building a successful personal brand could mean the difference between languishing in the crowded marketplace and landing your dream job or getting funding for your startup.