When you think of the word brand, you may associate it with a business or organization. However, a brand is much bigger than that. Brands not only represent large companies, such as Lululemon or Coca Cola, they represent people, like you and me.
One of the best quotes about branding that has continuously resonated with me is this:
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon
How fitting and how true.
What do people say about you when you’re not in the room? Do they think you are smart? Talented? Educated? If not, it’s time to utilize your personal brand to change people’s
perceptions and get yourself noticed.
When I started establishing my own brand, the first thing I thought long and hard about is what I want to be known for. At the time, I had just graduated university, was on the job hunt and having little success. Sure, I’d been offered jobs that were okay, however none of them had anything to do with my long-term goal to be in marketing.
I ended up accepting a job in a non-profit, where I was primarily focused on client services. Again, not my dream job, but I used it as an opportunity to showcase my expertise and contribute to the organization above the basics of my expected job requirements. I volunteered to write blogs, draft tweets, update the website, and eventually, it turned into a marketing job for me.
During this time, I was extremely active on LinkedIn. Writing articles, connecting with like-minded people and sharing my experiences. I also attended events and soaked in as much information as I possibly could. People started to know and recognize me, and in this time frame I decided it was time to get serious about what I wanted my brand to be known for going forward.
To help you define your own brand, I have outlined three vital steps to follow going forward.
1. Get Real With Your Social Media Presence
The first step in developing your brand is taking a look at how you portray yourself to the outside world. That means, it’s time to get real with your social media. Social media poses the greatest opportunity and also the greatest risk when it comes to building your personal brand. Exhibit A, MLA Deborah Drever. Sure, university was a fun time but do you really want to show your potential employers and client’s photos of your beer pong days? No, I didn’t think so.
My first recommendation is to do one of two things. The first option is to lock-down your accounts. Ramp up your security settings and make sure anyone who follows you is someone you already know. The second option is to clean-up your accounts. Get rid of the immature photos and showcase an appropriate side to your life. My preference is to differentiate between my personal and business accounts. My personal account has very little to do with my business. Instead, I utilize my business accounts on Instagram for example, to showcase my expertise and knowledge without spamming my friends list.
2. Focus on What You Want to Be Known For
The second step in developing your brand is reflecting on what you want to be known for. Do you want people to see you as an expert at human resources or social media? Don’t wait for them to find out, tell them. Writing blogs, volunteering your time, actively posting content to platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are great channels to get your voice heard. Content is king and LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your expertise in the business world. The more I engaged on LinkedIn, the more opportunities presented themselves.
*Pro-tip: optimizing your profile to include the right keywords is vital.
3. Tell the World!
The third, and perhaps most important step in developing your brand is having the confidence to put yourself out there. As women, we have this tendency to not want to talk a lot about ourselves and how awesome we are. I’m here to tell you, it’s a must. If you want that next big opportunity, you have to be willing to take risks and put yourself out there. Whether it’s starting a blog or attending a networking event solo, you have to take the leap. It’s hard at
first, but trust me, it does get easier the more you do it. One final point related to putting yourself out there is to remember to bring business cards with you wherever you go! You never know who you may meet and Vistaprint will hook you up for only $9.99!
As you move forward in developing your personal brand, remember to focus on the three steps listed above. Building a brand takes time, energy and consistency. It’s not easy, but the return is well worth it.
Now, ask yourself the following questions:
Best of luck in your branding adventure! Remember to take risks and put yourself out there!
Until next time,