All buzzwords aside, the fact of the matter is that everyone has a digital footprint. Your digital footprint, comprised of social media profiles, photos posted by friends, company websites and countless other sources combine to shape your personal brand—whether you know it or not. The key differentiating factor is whether you take a passive role in this process, letting your brand define you, or you take an active role, cultivating your brand into an authentic extension of yourself.
Your Brand’s Impact
Online profiles play a significant role in others’ judgment and overall impression of you. This perception extends beyond the boundaries of either personal or professional and merges the various facets of your life into an integrated image. Twenty-nine percent of workers ages 18 to 29 report that they uncovered information on social media leading to a lowered professional perception of their colleagues.
Co-workers aren’t the only people affected through your online profiles. In 2016, 60% of employers research job candidates using social networking sites. It’s vital to understand and continuously augment your personal brand to drive internal and external opportunities for your career. Here are some tips to help your brand out.
4 Steps to an Awesome Personal Brand
Above all, the most valuable connotation your personal brand should evoke is authenticity. Here are four easy steps to improve brand:
Before you can improve or alter your personal image, you must first determine how you want to be seen. Are you a personable accountant who loves entertaining? Are you a dog-loving account manager who loves traveling to Vegas? You should ask yourself what qualities and interests you want others to associate with your brand and then start shaping content based on those answers.
Once you have your definition, set a specific timeline for your new brand. Significant changes can happen within the first couple of weeks, but if you haven’t been active online, a brand overhaul might take several months depending on your work style.
Now that you have your brand defined, you can start curating your personal content. Block off a few hours to go through all of your social media and evaluate whether it aligns with your personal brand. Google yourself on a regular basis and be responsive to what others are saying about you.
While purging all of your old or unwanted content is a fast start to a new brand, it may be better to simply identify aspects of your personal brand that don’t align and slowly phase them out as you start building more desirable content.
It’s time to start creating meaningful content. Love solving puzzles? Share or better yet, write, an article on how puzzles lead to improved cognitive abilities. If you haven’t already, buy a domain with your name and start a website. There are great online resources and user-friendly platforms to help you create beautiful content. Try Wix for websites and Canva for graphic design.
The key to building your brand is making sure the content aligns with your desired image but also resonates with your audience. Don’t just post, to post. Make sure you are providing some value to the people in your network.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to share those atypical hobbies or interests. The more authentic, the better.
You have the power to strengthen or weaken your brand depending on the various companies, people and organizations you associate with. Find people you admire or think have strong personal brands and follow their lead. Engage with the content and people you value.
If you aren’t involved in many things, explore joining organizations that might benefit you. These could be local sports teams, alumni clubs or networking groups. One simple way to build associations is becoming more active in your company or school by submitting an article or blog post related to your job.
The essential thing to remember is that there is no single correct way to create a personal brand. Brands evolve out of continual attention. Building your personal brand is an ongoing process that takes consideration. Always seek opportunities to expand your knowledge and most importantly, be yourself.