3 Simple Ways You Can Build Your Professional Brand#personal-branding by June 22, 2016
There is no denying that brand equity is a powerful thing. Why do people pay more for products from companies like Apple? The simple answer is the company has worked hard at owning a place in the mind of the consumer. They want people to associate their brand with quality. This is part of their brand equity. This same concept can and should be applied to individuals and their professional brand. They should work to be known for something. You should be known for something and should build your own personal brand equity. That sounds like a great concept that most people understand and agree that is important. How to build that brand is another story. Here are three key ways that you can start building your brand today:
1. Create a great LinkedIn profile
Just like with the branding of a product, your own personal brand has to be professional, targeted, and relevant. You can’t imagine seeing a commercial on TV with an Apple logo that is blurry. The same can be said for your LinkedIn profile. It must be professional first and foremost. This is one of the primary conduits for building your professional brand. Your LinkedIn profile often shows up at the top of Google searches when someone is searching for you online, so it is important that this be polished. That starts by listing your work history accurately. There is nothing less professional than embellishing work that you have performed. Your LinkedIn profile is your modern-day resume. Expect to be able to talk to that. Probably the most important thing in crafting a professional LinkedIn profile is to ensure the use of proper grammar and spelling throughout. This seems like it should be simple, but it is amazing how many do not follow this rule. These are table stakes.
The consistency most people overlook is ensuring they use the same tense for verbs. Whether you use past tense or present tense is not as important of a decision as using a consistent tense. If you start with one, stick with it throughout. The exception to this rule is that you can choose to use present tense for your current role and past tense for all previous. The bottom line is to keep this in mind when writing. You certainly don’t want to mix tenses in the same job section or worse yet within the same responsibility.
Along the lines of ensuring your LinkedIn profile has proper and consistent grammar and spelling, it should also be complete. Most ensure they have their work history and education populated but they forget about the most important aspect of their profile, the summary. This area lets you write anything you want to describe yourself. What do you want to be known for? What do you want your personal brand to be? This is the area where you can lay that out to readers. You will probably have a lot of industry-specific accomplishments throughout your work history, but this paragraph lets you say what you are really great at. It lets you establish your brand.
Your profile should be targeted. Put some thought into what you want to be known for. Decide what your brand is going to be and craft your LinkedIn profile around that vision. Make sure to use the words and skills that best align with the vision you have for who you are. The only way to get noticed and asked to perform your dream job is for recruiters to be able to find you based on the skills and experience they are looking for. Your profile should make the distinction that you have those skills.
Finally, your profile should be relevant to the skills you actually posses. Sure you could write down that you have skills that you think are needed for a role and don’t actually have that experience it will come through in an interview. So save everyone’s time and don’t list the skills you don’t have. If there are skills you think you need and have a gap there, then start working towards getting those skills now. Then add them to you profile.
2. Share meaningful, relevant and timely content aligning with your skills
One of the greatest ways to build your brand is to be a thought leader around your skills and experience. The very first step in this journey is to share meaningful and timely information with your peers. Richard Branson is one of the very best at this. If you don’t follow him on LinkedIn yet, better your life today by doing it now. Here’s his profile to follow. Not only will you see the interesting things that he shares with the community, but you can learn from a master of creating your own brand. He is simply the king of building a personal brand.
Spend time throughout your busy week to read about things that interest you and align with your brand. When you find relevant information then share it with your social network, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever social media you engage in. People will start to associate you with the information you share. You can drive conversation around the topic. That is what social media is for after-all. This may seem like it could take a considerable amount of time, but in reality you are reading about things that interest you. You would read this content anyway. If you are forcing yourself to read things you don’t enjoy, you should rethink what you want your brand to be anyway. It should align with what you find interesting. By sharing content that others are writing about, it saves you considerable time from having to create the content yourself. You will get the halo effect however by simply sharing the information and starting the dialogue around its contents.
3. Talk to the world about your skills
If you want to be known for something then be known for that. Walk the walk and talk the talk, as they say. Take every opportunity you can to discuss what it is you want to be known for. Build your brand. It doesn’t matter if it is with colleagues at a work picnic, friends at a dinner party, or online in a community forum - talk about the skills that make up your brand. When those that come in contact with your voice, whether in person or online, think about you they think about your brand.
Although it will take time, it is highly recommended that you engage in projecting your voice through online dialogue. Consider writing a blog entry about the topics that make up your brand. Also, look for groups to join on LinkedIn along those same lines and join in discussions.
It’s your brand. Put some time into it and make it what you want. Whether someone comes in contact with you by viewing your professional LinkedIn profile, by seeing your postings through social media, or by talking with you over lunch, they will be left with a focused picture of who you are. Read all the personal branding articles you can and learn what you can do to build yours. You control what the world sees you for and what skills you possess. Building a personal brand takes time, but starting with these three simple steps will go a long way towards branding yourself.