You might have heard of a little thing called your ‘personal brand’. But what is it? How do you build one? Why is it important? We’ve taken a look at some of the leading experts in the area, and collated a list to help unlock the secrets behind what is fast becoming a necessity for job seekers fresh out of university, or looking for a career change.
According to Open Colleges in Australia, “personal branding is the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual. It’s the association people have to your name. Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share and even every word you say in social company contributes to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions, as well as your connection to other people and organisations.”
So it’s not just your online presence, but how you compliment that in the offline sphere that matters. Still, a whole lot of the effect will be felt online, and platforms like personal websites and LinkedIn accounts go a long way to lending credibility to the messages you’re attempting to convey.
The Balance says that “building a personal brand takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. The need for a personal brand will continue to increase. It’s the one thing that no one can take away from you, and it can follow you throughout your career. It’s a leadership requirement that lets people know who you are and what you stand for.” Because of this, it’s critical that you know where the information you’re putting out there is going to end up.
Because you’re trying to market yourself, you do want to brand shown in as many places as possible, but you want to ensure what is being shown is information you’re happy with. So naturally, your personal brand will be across social media - because, after all, that’s where you likely started it - but you should also be aiming to get featured in appropriate blogs and media publications. This could be anything from a local ‘who’s who’ to an international catalogue of professionals.
Your personal brand will be shown wherever you manage to get it shown - so make sure it says what you want it to say.
A personal brand with a message you want to put out there to the world is more important than ever because of how readily available information about everyone is. Image Group International quote a study that says “90% [of business people] said personal branding was important for career advancement.” That’s a staggering statistic. If almost everyone in the high end of the business world is saying you need a personal brand, there is no better reason to sit up and take notice.
The Digital Marketing Institute speaks about the importance of tying your values and passions into your personal brand: “Values and passions help you determine where you want to be in two, five or even twenty-five years, including your ideal career path.” This helps demonstrate that, above your skills and qualifications, you have set things you’re looking to achieve. Ambition and drive are critical assets that employers look for, and showing your values and passions within your professional personal brand helps demonstrate those.
Writing for Forbes magazine, Sujan Patel says that “Since over 90% of customers trust information from people they know when making a purchase decision, building personal connections might be the most effective way to develop trust and authority with your audience.” This echos sentiment that social media is a massive part of all connections - professional as much as social. To get started building your personal brand, look outside of Facebook and consider how LinkedIn and Instagram can help you connect with likeminded people and, indeed, relevant brands.
Absolutely. The Muse points out that, even if you’re entering a career that doesn’t appear to necessitate a personal website, there are still going to be a lot of benefits to doing so. “If you’re a media, digital, or creative professional—absolutely. Same goes if you want to otherwise establish yourself as an expert in anything and don’t already have your own professional blog. If you’re in a traditionally non-creative field with structured recruitment and hiring methods, such as accounting or law, a personal website might not help you as much professionally. But if you have a side hustle or hobby and you’re active in the online community, then a personal site can be helpful to grow that online influence, too.” Managing your message, and having somewhere to direct people, are reasons in and of themselves for having a personal website.