Developing a strong, reputable professional brand is a very important task. It is your most valuable professional asset. Your brand is no longer defined by your resume alone. In the age of digital disruption, there’s more to building your professional brand than you might think.
Your professional brand defined
Your professional brand is best explained as your personal reputation and it’s visibility in the marketplace. The promising news is that there has never been a better time to promote your professional skills, experience, core competencies and the contributions you make to your industry sector.
Creating a professional brand strategy allows you to drive greater online visibility, industry influence and reputation. This increases access to work opportunities, client prospects and professional connections.
Stages of professional online brand development
Developing your professional digital brand is the process of proactively creating, optimising and strengthening your brand online. I see the development process as 3 distinct stages:
- The first phase is getting your professional brand strategy aligned with your career objectives.
- The second phase involves identifying all the tools and digital platforms you will use, to communicate key elements of your professional brand. This includes deciding which digital platforms you will use to showcase your skills, experience and competencies. It may include elements such as a personal website, a podcast or development of a video series.
- The third phase involves strengthening your newly developed or updated professional online brand and monitoring its growth over time.
Your professional online brand development strategy outlines the tasks and activities you need to undertake in each phase, to grow and nurture your professional profile.
There is no right or wrong way to develop or enhance your professional brand. Having assisted many professionals with this brand building process, here are the broad areas I adhere to as part of the online professional brand development process.
A 10-step personal online brand development strategy
1. Consider your overall strategy.
A strong, well defined professional online brand helps you expand your career opportunities and professional networks more easily. If you are clear about your career goals and aspirations, your brand strategy will help you get there.
2. Identify your target audience(s).
In line with your skills, core competencies and experience, you need to identify who you are trying to reach when building your professional profile.
Consider who your target employers, clients and networking prospects are. Clearly defining target audiences assists you to narrow the focus of your audience, which aids the speed at which your brand and reputation grows online.
Your aim is not to get in front of everyone, but rather to gain the attention of a smaller, targeted audience that can benefit from your professional capabilities and experience.
3. Research your target employers, potential clients and networking prospects.
Research helps you understand your target audience better. By researching each group, you get a better sense for the language they use, the values and culture they promote and the work they do.
You can glean this information from a range of sources. LinkedIn, company websites and professional connections are all great sources of information to build a better picture of your audience.
4. Develop your professional online brand positioning for each audience.
In this step, you articulate how your skills, experience and core competencies vary from others in your sector or niche. This involves looking for unique ways to communicate how you can add value to potential employers and/or clients.
If you are looking to use your professional brand to grow your client base and networks, you need to form an elevator pitch of sorts that demonstrates the value you can provide to relevant audiences.
Whilst building a professional brand is not exactly the same as building a corporate brand, creating a positioning statement is still a worthwhile exercise. The statement should capture the essence of the contributions you offer to each of your audience types. You also need to find a way to articulate how you will deliver on what you promise to each of your audiences.
5. Develop your messaging strategy for each audience.
Your next step is developing a messaging strategy that translates your professional brand positioning into compelling messages for your various target audiences.
While your core professional brand positioning must be the same for all audiences, each audience will be interested in different aspects of your experience and core competencies.
Define how your skills, experience, core competencies and industry experience will meet the needs of each audience type.
6. Develop your core professional bio message, including a professional online brand “tagline”.
Your key professional message, sometimes known as a tagline, should support your professional brand positioning. Whilst initially you might think this activity is “not for you”, a short, sharp statement about your experience is useful when you are introducing yourself on a range of digital platforms.
As an aside, this is also very useful to articulate your professional brand message in person with others in any professional setting including, but not limited to, interviews, conferences and industry events.
Having a concise phrase to describe yourself to other people is a big confidence booster. To read more about developing a personal brand tagline, please see the Further Reading and Resources section at the end of this article.
Your tagline should be used on each of your social media profiles consistently.
7. Develop your online content communications strategy.
Content marketing is not just for large companies. There are no barriers for talented individuals to create an online content marketing strategy also. Online content is pivotal to any contemporary professional brand development strategy.
You have an unprecedented opportunity to reach prospective employers, clients and industry connections around the world at the click of a button. The key to content development is to share and comment on valuable and relevant content to capture the attention of your target audiences.
Your reputation builds when you proactively grow your online visibility.
Want to access more work opportunities and build your professional networks? I can help you to develop an effective content strategy, including action implementation plan, that over time, will build your professional online brand. Contact me here.
8. Consider a personal website.
Building a personal website is a very effective professional brand development tool. It is a place where your audiences can learn more about what you do, how you do it and the types of clients you assist.
Whilst prospective employers, clients and professional contacts are not likely to connect with you based on your personal website alone, a well designed personal website is a “1%er” that can make you stand out in the crowd.
Think of your website as your “digital home”, where you showcase valuable content about your skills, experience and core competencies. It should also reflect any major projects or contributions you make to your industry sector.
9. Build your professional online brand toolkit.
The next step in the process is to build out the remainder of your professional online branding toolkit. This includes creating:
- A professional and compelling LinkedIn profile and strategy to improve your visibility
- A robust online communications strategy, complete with a contribution diary, to improve your online visibility by contributing to relevant industry forums and social media platforms
- Relevant Capability Statements for your website (digital format)
- Professional and authentic videos, podcasts and/or YouTube clips (if relevant for your industry sector), aligned with your skills and industry experience
- A professional and informative email/communication footer with links to all of your social media profiles
10. Implement, track and adjust your professional brand strategy.
This final step in the professional online brand development process is implementing it! Obviously this step is essential if you are looking to build and expand your professional brand and profile digitally.
Implementing a detailed professional online branding strategy can be daunting and a little overwhelming. I work with many talented professionals to implement their strategies. My key piece of advice here is to create a realistic action plan, implementing the various elements of your strategy, over a period of time.
Once implemented you should monitor results. Building a professional online profile takes time. When monitoring your approach, observe which elements of your professional brand building strategy are producing results (ie creating interviews, meetings, digital connections, emails, conversations etc) and which elements are not providing any value at all. Adjust your approach as relevant.
Remember that your professional profile should not be seen as a “static” set and forget activity. Constant improvements and changes ensure that your professional online brand grows in line with your own professional development and growth.
How I can help
An effective professional brand development strategy results in connection with each of your audiences. I can help you to build an effective professional online brand strategy, complete with practical steps to implement recommendations.
I can work with you to define your career goals and aspirations. Whether you are looking for full time work or to transition out of a permanent role into an independent consulting role, professional contracting position or “gig” (amongst other possibilities!), I can help by working with you to re-design your professional online brand strategy.
Articulate, professional and consistent personal branding drives professional success. Let me help you build an online profile that assists you to find more rewarding work opportunities and creates invaluable professional connections to enhance your career enjoyment and success. Contact me now to learn more about how I can assist you.
Further Resources and Reading