how you can use personal branding to further your careerYou might have heard about personal branding, it is a much hyped concept that is all over the web at the moment. How does it affect us normal folks and what can we do to make the most of personal branding? This article will briefly explain what it is, what you should be doing and what you can expect from it.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is how you project yourself to the world, how you create and maintain your image. Your brand is just as much about your profession and career as your background, what type of person you are, your interests and any interesting facts.

Personal branding is essentially very similar to company branding, for example the golden arches of McDonald’s or the Apple of, uhm, Apple have become instantly recognizable as part of those companies. This is what you want for yourself, you want to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.

Personal branding is where you and your career are bundled together into one. It’s the way you market and promote the image of yourself. What you do and what you are all about and above all what you can do for others. Compare your personal brand to a rock star’s image, something that needs to be maintained.

All interaction you have with other people make up your personal branding. Having a meeting, making a phone call, sending an email are all activities that demonstrate your brand. Offline and online, you only get a few seconds for a first impression so you will want to get it right.

Do I need a personal brand?

You already have one. What you need is to maintain it and make sure it projects what you want it to by staying consistent continuously improve it. You will want to take control of your brand because you want to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. It will help you to be seen by current and prospective clients, business partners, employers and so forth. You want people to remember who you are and what you do.

Your online brand

First impressions count, also online. It’s free and very simple to sign up for online networking sites and they are great tools for promoting your brand. Any typical professional will have a profile with Linkedin or Facebook, some will have lots more than this. As long as you use and maintain your profile in the right manner, you are on to a winner.

Try googling your name and see what happens. Now consider that others (prospective customers for instance) do the same. Are you happy with what they see? If you were a client, you would probably want to see a supplier with a professional profile on Linkedin and possibly other platforms.

We already know that headhunters and HR people are all over LinkedIn like a cheap suit. Guess what, they also cross reference you on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other sites to see that you are not simply putting on a corporate act. Make sure the brand you project is consistent and well positioned, it will help you to get that raise, promotion or even a new and better job. Just like having 20 recommendations on LinkedIn weighs in your favor, one ‘wrong’ photo can be a complete dealbreaker and leave you regretting ever signing up for that service.

My experience

I have long been prolific on LinkedIn and used it as a tool for expanding my network and to do research on people and companies. I have a large and growing network which has supported me when building this site and even coming up with ideas for posts. I set up Undercover Recruiter to promote myself as well as the blog. Setting up a blog is optional and perhaps not the first step you want to take, although if you have the time it is definitely worth looking into. I promote this blog across a few platforms (mainly LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter) and try to have exactly the same brand on all of them.

Call to action

Make sure you are consistent with everything you communicate to the world. This includes how you speak, your emails, online presence, your resume and even how you dress. Will your prospect customer be surprised or even disappointed when they meet you for the first time? You have to make sure you are one and the same across all channels and you will then come across as genuine and trustworthy. Share information about yourself, tell stories and inspire others. Add some personality to your brand, we all know it’s easier to sell on emotions than facts. When you think you are finished, anyone should be able to locate you online and find out what you do and what makes you special. If this isn’t the case, you need to put some more work in.

Bottom line

You need to be aware of your personal brand and you should ensure that you are projecting the right image of yourself. By being consistent and congruent, online and offline, you will build up your image and people will notice and trust you. As long as this is a positive message, you will improve your chances of having a great career/building your business/making friends/whatever your goal is.

What is your experience of personal branding? Let us know in the comments below!

photo by: colinlogan

The original Undercover Recruiter, after 7 years in tech recruiting Jorgen now runs Link Humans, a social media agency in London.

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