The concept of personal branding has been discussed widely across the net yet many people think that it is confined to the celebrity set like Paris Hilton or Justin Timberlake. By definition, personal branding is ‘the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands’. Today the idea of ‘self-packaging’ is becoming more of a necessity than a desire due to the rise in popularity of social media technology.
Social media tools have levelled the playing ground and thus enabled us to reach incredible heights where the cost to entry is only really our time. Plus, in an amazingly short space of time we can achieve as much presence as most startups and mid-size companies or products.
So what face do you want to show to the world and how will you position yourself for success? To help you decide, here are five steps to ‘the art of personal branding’ …
Discover your niche
The first step in the personal branding process is to discover and select your niche so that you can become the master of your domain. Take an inventory of your skill set and determine what it is that you can be seen as a specialist in – this will become your ‘online domain’. Start by registering your ‘name as a domain’ for example, www.johnsmith.com so that you can own your slice of the world wide web.
Your personal branding ‘tool kit’
Your personal branding ‘tool kit’ consists of the elements that you need to highlight your brand and communicate your niche. In your kit you will need a business card – both printed and online versions. To create and distribute your online business card use a free site like www.businesscard2.com.
Next you will need a professional resume – online resources like www.theresumebuilder.com can assist here. This is important not just for job hunting but also to include when promoting your business to new clients. Last but not least, you will need a visual portfolio that will consist of a professional studio-shot of yourself, a CD or DVD of your work and a short profile video of yourself that can be posted to You Tube.
Create your online profile
An online profile across the social media platforms of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is where people will probably find you first. Here’s a snapshot of the power and reach of this popular phenomenon …
LinkedIn – around 700,000 users across Australia increasing by 23% in just the last eight months. Now with 60 million users worldwide.
Facebook – around five million users across Australia and an amazing 500 million worldwide in 2010
Twitter – around 250,000 users across Australia growing by a staggering 1,067%. Today we are seeing around 50 million tweets being posted per day – that’s an average of 600 tweets per second.
Facebook alone has over 160 million personal profiles, but almost none of them have branded themselves properly using this medium. Make sure that your ‘personal brand’ is reflected consistently across all these mediums and that you manage it well, for example select the privacy options available that disable the ability for people to tag you in external pictures and videos.
Establish a blog
If you are going to carve a niche in the market and become know as an ‘online specialist’ in your field then you will need a blog. A blog allows you to post articles you have written, add links, pictures and work examples as well as being featured on your personal domain website. Moreover, those who blog will create a stronger asset than those who don’t because blogs rank higher in search engines and therefore make it easier for people to search and view your expertise and interest areas over time.
Communicating your personal brand
Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important for standing out from the crowd. Invest in training to improve your presentation skills and select clothing that best represents you and enhances your ‘brand message’. Remember that it will be this look and presentation that will be viewable through your pictures/avatars and video clips online, as well as when you meet people in reality.
Now the work really begins - don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come. To create and establish your ‘personal brand’ you will have to actively communicate everything that you have created to others and the world. Have you ever hear the term, "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know?" Well, nowadays it’s not so much of even who you know but more importantly ‘who knows you.