Personal Branding is Paramount
Updated: Feb 5
It’s been a little over 20 years since Tom Peters first coined the term “personal branding” in his Fast Company piece, “The Brand Called You.” The concept was simple: all workers must be in control of their own careers.
It sparked a phenomenon where many people started to perceive themselves as brands. It became all about having that distinct voice and signature image that made you recognisable to everyone from your colleagues to your stakeholders and clients. It was far more than just your reputation, but a unique professional identity that set you apart.
Over the next two decades, personal branding evolved as the digital revolution rose, and social media accounts became the new resumes and business cards. Suddenly, who you were in the digital realm mattered just as much, if not more, than who you were in real life.
People became cautious of what they put on their social media accounts. Facebook profile pics were carefully chosen, LinkedIn summaries were well thought-out, and each Instagram post was strategically captured and thoughtfully captioned before posted.
While it was probably never Tom Peters intent that social media would be inextricably linked to personal branding, the fact remains that this is where we find ourselves today. According to SHRM, 8 out of 10 HR professionals use social media to hire. Of those, 66% look to Facebook while 96% use LinkedIn, and 53% use Twitter for recruitment and screening.
But not only recruiters are after on what is on the internet. 95% of people consult the internet before using the services of a company. And 72% of people trust reviews online.
When we talk about personal branding we are referring to establishing and fostering what we stand for. Our personal brand is the unique combination of expertise and experience that make us who we are.
Here are six ways to start building a great personal brand.
Start thinking of yourself as a brand
People are Googling you at every stage of your life and your professional career. The question is no longer if you have a personal brand, but if you choose to cultivate your brand or to let it be defined by others. Developing a strong personal brand is just as much about being responsive to what is being said as it is about creating intellectual property.
Define your personal brand
Personal branding is not to be confused with advertising yourself or creating an avatar online that people will come to like. The strongest personal brands are the ones that are clear with their purpose, consistent, and above all, authentic. Who they are online is exactly what you can expect to meet in person.
Search yourself on Google
Do a search for your name on Google and Google images. Setting-up a Google alert on your name or the name of your organisation is a good idea, so you can keep track of any new content. You can choose to have notifications mailed to you once per day.
Build trust & credibility
A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. Use your personal brand to start getting credible placements in relevant third party publications and channels to get your content published. In addition to authentic content that you publish on your own sites and social media profiles, it’s important to show that you are relevant and knowledgeable.
Associate with other strong brands
Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your relation to other brands. Support strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: college, company, colleagues. Create content that builds relationship. Study your existing social media followers and website visitors. Consider submitting a guest post to the blog of your organisation or look at other digital channels you can connect to your brand.
Enhance your audience
Start building a relevant audience of stakeholders on key social media platforms, media and publications. Connect with inspirational influencers who have a common vision and are in line with what you are trying to accomplish.