Whether you like it or not you are likely to have a digital presence. A digital presence refers to information about you in some shape or form online. It might be your LinkedIn profile. Or perhaps it’s reference to your guest speaking role at an industry conference.
By proactively contributing to your digital presence you create a fuller and more accurate rounded professional picture of who you are. Product and service brands pour money, time and significant market research into how best to reach their target audience. On a smaller scale, you need to consider your target audience and the key messages you send them online too. The product is this case is you or as some like to call it – your personal brand.
What is personal branding
Personal branding relates to any digital or physical collateral or personal interaction that creates your professional brand. The way you interact with others in your sector also contributes to your personal brand. That means having a well thought out approach to developing your brand strategy is really important for the growth of your professional profile.
This includes thinking about how you present online, in person and what activities you will undertake, on an ongoing basis, to grow your professional network.
Some examples of personal branding
Here are some examples of elements of your personal brand:
- Your resume
- Your LinkedIn profile
- Any online professional profiles or biographies available about you online
- Wikipedia references
- Your personal website or work examples online (including presentation attributions etc)
- Contribution to digital forums
- Attendance and interaction at events including conferences
- Internal company interaction
- Personal blog, article writing and podcast series contributions
Your online presence
Your online presence (or digital presence) goes a long way to creating your personal brand. The great news is that you can create compelling and meaningful content that contributes to building your personal brand in a very positive way. Without a plan, your personal brand forms without your input. The information available about you in the marketplace is haphazard.
I work with individuals to create online brand building strategies focused on building stronger industry presence, networks, access to resources and work opportunities. Once you have a clear picture of the audience(s) you are looking to connect with, developing the strategy itself is not rocket science. The challenge is maintaining consistency in building your online professional presence.
How to use social media effectively
Believe it or not, social media is not all bad. Social media platforms are very powerful when it comes to building your professional online profile. Authenticity of voice is really important. So is connecting with your audience(s) in a meaningful and helpful way.
Not all social media platforms are appropriate to build your professional profile. Snapchat doesn’t necessarily make sense for CEOs looking to build their online profile. But Instagram may well be a valid platform to use depending on your industry sector and personality type.
Whilst social media is often seen to be very narcissistic, it can be used to connect in a super human way with others around the globe who share your perspective, a passion for a specific industry sector or even a role type.
As part of your personal branding strategy it is important to think about the social media channels that will best work for you in positively building your personal brand and profile.
Digital branding – manage your digital presence
Digital branding sounds scary right? Surely you need to employ an agency to assist you to grow your digital brand? No. This is not the case. You can build a perfectly workable digital branding strategy for yourself.
Alternatively you can engage an individual contractor or consultant with a good grasp of digital media to give you a few hints and tips and steer you in the right direction if digital marketing is a new concept for you.
Here are some key elements of your digital brand profile to consider improving:
- Review ALL digital content related to you that is currently available online (Googling yourself is the best way to see what is out there)
- Create digital content to place online to grow your online profile and ensure that your key messages about your skill set and experience are articulated accurately
- Comprehensively complete your LinkedIn profile in a highly professional and consistent manner
- Make sure any comments you make as part of digital forums (including LinkedIn) are insightful, helpful and logical
- Reach out to assist others on digital platforms before asking for something in return. For example, make connections with others on LinkedIn by offering to assist them rather than asking them for help finding work immediately
- Consider whether a personal website would be helpful in showcasing your capabilities or experience
The importance of your brand in a digital world
Where once “brand” was a term used for companies in the commercial world, personal brand is now well and truly a “thing”. And guess what? You are responsible for building your OWN personal brand and protecting it, both in person and online.
You no longer need large billboards on the side of city buildings to grow a brand. You now just need a computer, laptop or smart device in front of you. With a few clicks, you can reach your audience in every corner of the globe…digitally.
By proactively refining your key personal brand messages and identifying the networks you are looking to create, you can grow your brand so that it shines anywhere at anytime. We have never experienced a more digitally connected era. Make full use of this unprecedented opportunity.
Taking the time to create digital content grows your personal brand. It builds your networks and opens doors to new opportunities and resources like never before.
When you are your brand
For many companies starting out you are your brand. Start ups all begin somewhere. And more often than not, this is as the brain child of 1 or 2 talented individuals.
Over time YOU will become synonymous with your company values. Take control of that message by developing a strategy that grows your digital presence in a positive and helpful way.
Personal branding companies
A quick google search will show up a range of companies focused on assisting individuals to grow their personal brands. Before committing to working with any company to grow your personal brand, determine:
- Company costing structures
- How much face to face time you will get with the company (so they can better understand you and the key messages you are trying to convey in the marketplace)
- What exactly the company will do to assist you to grow your personal brand (ie will they assist in the development of digital assets etc)
- Case studies demonstrating the company’s success in working with professionals like you. In a professional context, a huge number of LIKES or Followers on social media platforms won’t necessarily bring you the networks and opportunities you need to thrive
Further Reading and Resources
Personal Social Media Strategy Development
Personal Brand Strategy – How are you growing your online professional brand
Essential elements of a personal website