Personal Branding is nothing new. Savvy professionals have always managed their appearance, their reputation, and their first impressions. From the Suit and Tie to your Elevator Pitch, having a clear sense of identity and purpose in business has always set successful individuals apart from the crowd. In today’s digital atmosphere, this requires more intentional work from design to technology to ensure your first impression is consistent and excellent.
Personal Branding is the intentional presentation of an individual’s strengths and value in the marketplace through various media.
If you are a late-career professional searching for a job or planning for your next endeavor, a personal brand will become essential to breaking through the bias and ruts your resume might suggest. If you’re a young professional, having a well-thought out personal brand will position you for new opportunities by standing out from the crowd.
Below are 6 Elements of Personal Branding to consider:
Before anyone reads your name or sees you in person for the first time, chances are that they will come across a picture of your online. Will you be dressed professionally in that picture? Holding an appropriate beverage? Investing in professional photography is a great plan as well. Personally, I tack on a professional picture to our family photo sessions. Maybe it’s tacky, but I am able to have a fresh, professional photo at the ready for use across the web.
Yep, even your name is up for grabs in today’s digital world. Are you a Brad or a Bradley? Are you the only one who comes up with your specific name in LinkedIn? How about Google? Choosing a consistent and distinct presentation of your name is a first step to allowing others to find and remember you. If you’re a Brad Smith (Apologies to any actual Brad Smiths out there…), your might get a lot of traction from your full name of Bradley Q. Smith. Are there a lot of Brad Smith’s out there? Yep. Bradley Q. Smith? Nope! So, rock that full name or middle initial to stand out. Just be sure to consistently use the same form of your name when using the other elements in this list.
Have you seen folks abuse the title field in LinkedIn? “Looking for opportunities to make an impact in a digital world.” Don’t do that. But do make an effort to ensure your title accurately reflects your mission in life or business. Finding a relatable way to introduce your values through this title is a quick win in your personal branding efforts.
Design isn’t just for the artistic or the wealthy. Design is so accessible these days, that there is no excuse not to put thought and effort into the appearance of the elements that make up your brand. These include business or personal cards, your social media profiles, your website, and even your emails. A small logo or a consistent typeface can immediately tell folks you are serious about how you present yourself. Spend $5 over at fiverr.com and get yourself a logo or a business card. Don’t try to teach yourself the principles of design, just pay someone else to do it ten times faster for you. The broader your brand, however, the more time and strategy that will be required to execute your design effectively. We, of course, can help with that.
There isn’t much of a world left that hasn’t been touched by the modernization of technology and the internet in the past ten years. How you leverage this technology speaks to your self-awareness and your skills. It’s sad to say, but if you email someone from an AOL or Juno email address while job hunting, an immediate judgement will be made. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, or your website uses flash, you will unintentionally communicate that you have not kept up with the times. I know… that’s shallow and keeping up is hard. But that is what it takes to remain relevant in a predominately digital marketplace. Consider getting your own domain name for email, and be sure your website is usable on a mobile device. If you are still rocking the flip-phone, it might be time for an upgrade as well. 🙂
The most important piece of your personal brand is the story you choose to tell about who you are and the value you bring to the marketplace. The story can be reduced to a single benefit statement of title like “Professional Sales Ninja”, or it can be a more nuanced approach that draws people in to your values and mission. Having a clear Mission, Vision, and Values will always help you form your personal brand, but those documents tend to be the story you tell yourself. What about the story you want to tell others? It could be personal, it could be a client success story, it could be an allegory or analogy. Once you settle on a story worth telling, you can allow that story to influence every other part of your personal branding.
With a bit of time and effort and a lot of consistency, a personal brand can be built that lives beyond your personal interactions and helps contribute to your overall success.