As the structure of the workplace shifts, a small silver lining to the last couple of years is that professionals are rethinking their role in the labor market and in society.
More people are launching their own businesses, recommitting to their professional goals, searching for careers that promote a healthier work-life balance or renewing that side gig that brings them real joy.
With this change comes a fresh opportunity to grow your career and define your mission. And one of the best ways to do this is to flesh out your personal brand.
What is a personal brand and why is it so important?
You can think of a personal brand as your professional identity. Companies use taglines, logos, and slogans to communicate their services and values in bite-size pieces. A personal brand plays the same role for individuals.
Every professional brings something unique to the table and your personal brand is how you convey this to employers, recruiters, colleagues, and clients. It’s both how you describe yourself and how others will remember you.
Employees with a strong personal brand are more likely to set themselves apart when it comes time for promotions. Professionals who can articulate their strengths and passions make a lasting impression on recruiters. And freelancers can bring in more work with a clear image of the value that they deliver for their clients.
In short, an effective personal brand can attract new opportunities and give you the professional boost you are looking for.
Wondering how to get started? Here’s a simple guide to creating a successful brand for yourself.
#1: Don’t Freak Out
This first one is less of an action item and more of a reminder for getting started. Creating a personal brand takes serious work but getting to where you want to be in your career does NOT have to come at the expense of your sanity. Remember that small steps in the right direction will add up to big results over time.
So, take a deep breath, grab a coffee, allow yourself breaks when needed, and get ready for your career to totally take off.
#2: Start with Personal Reflection
Your personal brand should be exactly that, personal. And the best way to dig into these concepts is intentional self-reflection.
When creating your brand, you want to think about what you do and what you value. Consider keeping a journal where you can explore these concepts.
· What excites me?
· When and where do I feel most confident?
· Do I like to work with people? What kind of people?
· What type of structure do I thrive in?
· What do I want people to remember me for?
· What makes me uncomfortable? Where do I struggle most?
Your writing doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. But it does have to be authentic. You will be using this as a launching off point for crafting your brand and if it isn’t true to who you are, neither you nor your audience will be convinced.
If writing isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. You can create a mind map with relevant images or record yourself doing a self-interview to arrive at the same results. You can also elicit feedback from those who know you well in a professional setting. Look over past company and client reviews and ask trusted friends and colleagues to describe you and your work in a sentence or two.
If you decide to go this route, know that how others perceive you does not define who you are. Rather, these types of exercises will help to paint a more complete picture, adding an external view to your internal reflection.
#3: Play to Your Strengths
Some people have a few things that they are known for. However, most of us have a hard time seeing our strengths because of the way our society has historically placed women in a box. But just because your strengths aren’t immediately identifiable to you does NOT mean that they don’t exist.
There are plenty of exercises that can help you identify your strong suits. Here’s one: start by taking inventory of the tasks that you do each day at home and in the workplace. Identify if there is a theme behind the tasks that you enjoy and the ones at which you excel. Walkthrough your process. What do you do when tackling a task that others might not? What’s your special touch? This can be a simple way of exploring your strengths and discovering what sets you apart.
To get more specific, flip through your professional portfolio, find samples of your favorite works, and analyze what it is that made you so successful. Is it the industry you were working for? The client? Something else? Marketing yourself with a specific niche in mind will allow you to play to your strengths and hone your message.
#4: Connect with Your Audience
A large part of discovering your brand will involve defining your target audience. Whether it’s the corporate executives in your current field or a specific type of clientele, being able to identify who it is that you are speaking to will allow you to tailor your brand and build meaningful connections that get results.
Knowing your target audience will not only shape how you tell your story; it will also inform where you tell it.
Connecting with your ideal audience on their preferred platforms will serve you well when it comes to return on investment. But building a strong digital presence is no joke. To avoid instant burnout, start out on the platforms that are most relevant to your priority audience. For example, if you have a younger audience in mind, a social media footprint on platforms like Instagram and TikTok is essential.
When you’re ready, you can expand your horizons across a handful of digital platforms (website, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, email newsletter, etc.) to reach a larger audience and ensure you are delivering a regular stream of content that is valuable to your audience.
It doesn’t have to be hard and fast but committing to an online content strategy will also make sure you are telling a cohesive story across platforms as well as hold you accountable for developing your brand while building rich relationships with your clientele.
For example, I created a simple formula that I mostly adhere to.
Instagram Reel posts 4-5 times a week
Instagram post 1-2 times a week
The reels and post tie to my overall content strategy to help engage, encourage, and empower women to take control of their life - while growing in confidence, clarity, and communication techniques.
#5: Build Your Tribe
Like everything in the professional world, networking is an integral part of strengthening your brand.
An amazing way to grow your tribe is to seek out career advice from those who are thriving in your desired field. Look at how they are branding themselves, putting out content, and connecting with their target audience. Consider reaching out to those who inspire you to introduce yourself and request an informational interview or virtual coffee chat.
This type of networking will serve you in a number of ways. First, you’ll be growing your connections in the industry. You never know when a new business connect could convert into a future mentor, partner, or even client. Additionally, you’ll be tapping the well of knowledge that comes with their expertise.
Lastly, think of these conversations as trial runs for presenting your brand. This will be great practice for you to build confidence when talking about who you are and what you are trying to do, which is something that a lot of women tend to struggle with at the start.
As you grow your network, remember to keep your tribe close. Thank your mentors, check-in on past clients, and keep up with new connections. Make both personality and professionalism part of your brand and you will never struggle to find recommendations and referrals down the line.