Let’s get one thing out of the way first: you have a personal brand.
Yes, you, an individual, have a brand, whether you want to or not.
It might be the equivalent of a post-apocalyptic allotment, or tidier than a cryptic crossword clue, but it’s there.
As Forbes reports, ‘92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint’, so what hope do you have, as a grown adult, who’s roamed the four corners of the internet?
Embracing your brand
It’s a loaded word, and applying it to yourself might make you feel like you’ve just agreed to the worst door to door sales gig, but when you break it down it’s honestly not that bad.
Your personal brand reflects how other people perceive you, it’s created from the cumulative effect of your online activity: from your website, to your tweets, to what other people say about you. While you can’t do much about the latter, you can and should take control of the former.
The positives of taking a more active role in shaping your personal brand are numerous. Strengthening your presence as an expert will benefit your business as well as increase your attractiveness to prospective employers. And make you look badass.
Where to Start
When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?
·‘Ah, that’s Larry, great [insert job/hobby]! Knows their stuff’,
·‘oh, that guy?! Yeah, I saw a pic of them once with a traffic cone…’
Decide on an answer and see how you can make changes to your online presence, whether it’s setting up a website or twitter account, or uploading more pictures of yourself with traffic cones to Instagram.
Having an end result in mind helps a great deal. Put yourself in the position of an imaginary stranger that you want to get the attention of and wonder how they could a) discover you b) contact you.
Googling yourself will quickly show up what impediments to a) and b) exist.
If there are currently no easy ways of contacting you, it might be worth creating a website for yourself, even if it’s just a simple landing page with a picture, brief biography and contact form. Several websites let you build websites without needing any technical skills: Wix, Weebly, and Wordpress to name a few.
No point ambitiously signing up to every social media network if you’re going to let them go to seed in a week (there are few sights more tragic than an abandoned twitter account…). Concentrate on one thing at a time.
Here’s how one plan could go:
·Week 1: Build a website. Test it. Have your best friends give their unbiased opinions.
·Week 2: Dig out that invitation to Linkedin from the junk mail. Give your profile a makeover. Join groups relevant to your business, follow your colleagues, ex-colleagues, ex-classmates, etc.
·Week 3: Start a blog. Link it to, or build it in your website. Give yourself a manageable schedule.
·Week 3: Open a twitter account. Follow people that look interesting. Share your first blog post. Retweet theirs.
·Week 4: Write a blog, share it on twitter and Linkedin.
·Week 5: Rinse and repeat.
Following this model, you will be slowly increasing your online presence, and therefore bump down from the Google 1st page the links you’d rather forget….
It’s not the only plan of course, twitter and Linkedin might not be where your target demographic is (image-based sites such as Pinterest or Instagram or specialist sites such as academia.edu or Mootis might be more relevant).
The important thing is to take that first step and keep going.
A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. In other words, what’s your story?