Personal Brand block text
Image courtesy of ID Kukar

Did you know?

Personal branding isn’t just an activity recommended for job seekers. People with active employment can benefit from maintaining one as well.

But what exactly is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of developing a “mark” that is created around your personal name or your career. You use this “mark” to express and communicate your skills, personality and values. The end goal is that the personal brand that you develop will build your reputation and help you to grow your network in a way that interests others. They will then seek you out for your knowledge and expertise.

As you can see from the above definition, personal branding can benefit anyone who wants to become a reference for others. The purpose of this article is to teach you just how important personal branding is as well as how you can get started or improve upon your campaign.

Why is personal branding a never-ending process?

Everyone who’s anyone wants to be respected in his or her industry. Your goal ought to be to develop a thought leadership, providing ideas and advice for others to use in their own work and life. You can also use personal branding as a way to stay current with industry updates, whether they are improvements to consider or suggestions on how to do things differently. When you find things to share with the world, you’re also learning from others as well, thus continuing the cycle of information sharing.

The most common purpose of personal branding is to find employment, whether it is to end unemployment or leave your current position. In these cases, working on an active personal brand can help you get your name out there far better than simply sending out resumes blindly through an online job board and cold-calling employers. With a strong personal brand, employers will see your hard work and consider you an irresistible, valuable asset to help them with the need caused by their open position.

What do I do when I’m just getting started?

When I started my personal branding campaign, I was fresh out of college. I had gone through two internships and volunteered as well. I studied independently on marketing, and I applied to hundreds of positions through various job board websites. I even attended several in-person networking events.

Unfortunately, this was getting me nowhere.

I realized soon enough that, while self-education and staying active are both crucial while you’re job hunting, there is always more that can be done. I decided to change my approach and follow some of the advice I had read about on personal branding online.

The first thing I did was deactivate my private Twitter account and create a professional, public one instead. I created a consistent name for my brand to be used everywhere in one form or another. On Twitter, it was my handle. I also created a Facebook page and began publishing on LinkedIn. Along with publishing via LinkedIn Pulse, I filled my LinkedIn profile all the way to the point where the platform labeled it an “All-Star” profile. With LinkedIn, I signed up for the job seeker’s premium account so that my applications were more likely to be found amidst the crowd. Ultimately, that is how I got my present position. My LinkedIn-based application caught the interest of my current employer.

If you’re going to create a personal brand, you should make sure you have at least one personal social account to use for friendships and casual conversations. You don’t have to be formal and professional everywhere, but definitely make sure you have the right privacy settings ready just in case and definitely be appropriate with your content regardless.

When it comes to privacy, make sure you use a platform that has the option for a friends/followers-only account so that your personal activity doesn’t pop up in Google search results without your permission. For example, Instagram is risky because your images are catalogued by other websites and shown high up in search results. I fell prey to that one myself.

On Twitter, I committed to posting content every day, Monday through Friday, on industry news and advice. I mostly customized and shared others’ content, but when I published something on LinkedIn, I shared that at least once, too. As of today, now that I’m employed, I cut down my activity to weekly LinkedIn and blog articles and five daily tweets Monday – Friday. I also share content through LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ status updates, and I schedule my activity so that I can use that extra time on other things. However, I still commit to responding to those who interact with me when I can.

This is key.

People don’t like trying to interact with robotic accounts, so if you’re going to automate your activity, make sure you still respond to any interactions.

On the other hand, your job should always have priority over your personal brand. That may sound obvious, but trust me: it is very tempting to drift back to your branding work during office hours.

I don’t measure ROI or other metrics anymore. It’s not necessary for personal branding, in my opinion. I simply do this activity to stay current and keep my name out there. However, if you’re using personal branding to look for a job, some metrics may come in handy, such as who has viewed your LinkedIn profile and who follows you on Twitter.

I don’t know if you have a lot of time on your hands or if your industry fits with my next tidbit of advice, but for the currently unemployed, I can assure you that you have the time for this:

Create a blog to discuss your field, industry and passions. Develop a professional portfolio through WordPress or another website creator, using a custom URL domain, preferably your name and/or brand name.

I’ve mentioned earlier about self-education, and that is certainly a crucial element to your personal brand. I reserve time every day, 7 days a week, to reading a bit about my field (marketing), and the content can range from ebooks to blog articles to print books.

Where should I be working on my personal brand?

In short, it greatly depends on your field and industry.

If you’re a marketer, the main social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+) are good places to start. If you’re an artist, graphic designer, or in another visual-based career, using social media networks such as Instagram and Pinterest may help, but the best thing you can do is develop an online portfolio using your own, self-developed website to show off your work the way YOU want. If you’re a writer, a blog would likely be best because it produces writing samples, but you should still have social networks to share your posts with the public.

Regardless of your career path, you should immediately claim your web domain name with either your full name (Annaliese Henwood) or brand name (Marketing Innovator). This could be a great opportunity for you to create an online portfolio of your work as well as a place to collect resources to share with others.

I also recommend you reserve time in your schedule to attend in-person networking events. Be prepared with business cards, a 30-second pitch, and an interest in more than just your own needs.

This article originally appeared on the Marketing Innovator blog.