You may have noticed us pointing to a number of articles about personal branding recently – and it’s a topic we’re passionate about, whether you’re an employee or an (aspiring) business owner because it’s just that important.
In this volatile, uncertain economy, most of us already know that the concept of a job or even a career for life is fast disappearing…
If you want to forge a successful career for yourself – as an entrepreneur or employee – it is up to you to manage your reputation, your next step and, therefore, your personal brand.
Among other things (your skills, experiences, abilities etc.), how you are perceived by others – peers, managers, potential employers, customers, partners, clients and more – will go a long way to determine whether you’ll get to where you want to be.
If you want to run your business online, from anywhere as a location independent entrepreneur (or even as a remote working employee), you need to start building your personal brand…now!
Not sure where to start? Here’s our introductory guide to help…
#1 Identify your speciality
Whether you’re setting up your own business or looking to land a dream remote working gig, figuring out what your speciality is (your own personal USP or area of expertise/desired expertise) is an important first step in crafting your personal brand.
Let’s say you want to get a role in online community management…building your personal brand around this right from the start will set you apart from the thousands of others who say they’re interested in it but don’t have any kind of reputation or brand around it.
Even if you’re not an expert yet, don’t let this stop you from focusing on a specific industry/niche for your personal brand…we all started somewhere, but if you haven’t yet it’s best to start NOW!
#2 Craft your bio
Once you’ve decided on what you’re going to brand yourself around, craft your bio. To help save time in the future, it helps to craft not just one, but several different ones of varying lengths. A useful approach would include:
- A one sentence bio – useful for face-to-face introductions, a Twitter bio and guest blogging profiles.
- A 1 paragraph bio – useful for the intro on your own website and guest blogging intros, among other things.
- A “Highlights” summary bio – useful for your own about page.
- A full history bio – useful for press packs and book blurbs.
Remember to tailor it around the particular area of expertise you’re branding yourself for (which can change and be tweaked when necessary) and to keep your message consistent.
#3 Choose an avatar
An often-overlooked (or poorly thought out) aspect of a personal brand is the visual image you use of yourself.
I’m personally not a fan of the posed, primped and preened studio shots – and think it’s unnecessary to have to spend money to get a decent avatar – but I do believe a good, clear photo which is representative of how you look now (not several years ago) is an important visual for your personal brand.
I’ve met numerous people who look nothing like the photos they use as their avatar and it always causes a moment of confusion. My own current photo is a self portrait, taken with a basic digital camera with a few minor colour-adjustments. It does the job of representing the image I’d like to portray online – and of how I currently look in real life too!
#4 Secure your profiles
Even if you don’t plan to use them actively for now (or ever), securing key profiles will help improve your branding online.
At a minimum, I’d recommend securing the following, using your own name as the handle/username:
- A Twitter profile.
- A Facebook profile and business page.
- A Google+ profile (and Gmail address/account plus a YouTube – all are Google so once you’ve got one, you just need to switch on the others).
- A LinkedIn profile.
- A Flickr account.
Getting started with social media is a whole other ball game – but securing your profiles is a great start. Use your crafted bio and your chosen avatar to ensure consistency of your brand and message across all the profiles you secure.
#5 Set up your own website & blog
In an ideal scenario, you’ll build your own website using yourname.com as the domain, which gives you full control over what’s on there, how it looks and how you use it.
If this is too much of a stretch (but it’s a stretch that’s highly worth considering!) then – at the very least – do the following:
- Create an About.me profile with links to other social profiles you have.
- Set up a Tumblr blog in your own name.
Remember to keep the visual and content messaging as consistent as possible throughout.
#6 Start sharing and curating
To begin to be seen as someone interested in, passionate about, or (over time) an expert in your particular area, it helps to have some kind of proof of this.
If you don’t yet have the necessary roles and projects on your CV, then another way to demonstrate your interest in a field is to write about it, curate others’ articles about it and generally be taking an active and up-to-date interest in what’s going on – use your own website/blog or your Tumblr blog to do this.
Consider this: If you were going to hire a business coach to help with your online business, would you rather hire someone who clearly has their finger on the pulse, creates and shares relevant content and obviously lives and breathes the online world or someone who has a boring website, no profiles on social media and appears pretty inactive?
Now flip the switch…what’s going to get you hired? Demonstrating a clear and active presence in your field or no presence at all?
#7 Join online communities & groups
If you really want to take things up a notch and star supercharging your personal brand, once you’ve got all the above in place, the next step is to take an active part in existing communities and groups online.
Call it networking, call it socialising, call it whatever you want…you don’t exist in a vacuum and to help market yourself and promote your brand, you’ve got to get out there.
I see so many people who want to become location independent, but they’re not online anywhere yet. You have got to know the landscape and the lay of the land, in order to know where you fit in online.
To lay a solid foundation for your location independent career, and to help give yourself a head start – whether you’re setting up your own business or looking to carve out a career path as a remote working employee – it’s time to take charge of your reputation and your brand online. Have you crafted yours yet?