Personal branding is the way others think and talk about you as an individual-professional. More precisely it’s who you are, what separates you from everyone else, and what’s going to make you relevant and compelling to others.
Or according to Tim Feriss:
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
Most employers use the web to search for talent and conduct employment background searches. That’s the way recruiting works nowadays and that’s why you should have a professional and up-to-date online presence. According to CareerBuilder in 2014, 43% of employers used social networking sites to research job candidates. Thus, you should always keep in mind that everything you do online is a representation of your personal brand.
So, whether you’re a jobseeker, a business owner or an artist, wherever you go and whatever you do, your online presence is there, visible to all, 24/7 and it really matters. You may not even know it, but you also have one. You have a Facebook page, a Twitter or a LinkedIn account and so on, and all of those are key parts of your online presence. The problem is that most people have an online presence, but in most cases it’s just a basic one.
In my first blog post about personal branding, I mentioned some essential tips to help you come up with the core of your online brand. In this post, I will guide you on how to use the information you have gathered to build or boost your online presence and online brand. Below you’ll find the steps you need to take to build a strong personal brand.
#1 Google yourself
First thing you need to do is to open an incognito browser window (or just delete cookies and browsing history) and google yourself to see what info comes up. You have probably done it already, but you should do it once again while keeping your personal brand in mind. For example, you may find an old forgotten, but still active, Myspace profile. This profile might contain shameful info or pics of you partying as a youngster, which may eventually harm your image and personal brand. Sure, these pics might have been cool when you were 18 or 20, but now, when you are trying to build a professional online brand, they might just be a BIG con don’t you think? So, what should you do? Follow the steps below:
- Google your name and surname.
- Go over the first 3-5 pages and see if there is any information about you.
- Find pages or profiles that you think might harm or do no good for your personal brand and try to delete them.
Tip: You can use justdelete.me to find direct links to delete your account from web services.
If you can’t find any page talking about you do not worry, below I will tell you how to bring results related to you on major search engines.
#2 Have your own personal website
The best way to brand yourself is by creating your own website. You can use this site to talk about yourself and showcase your key accomplishments. It’s true that not everyone needs their own website, but if you are, for example, a freelancer, artist, or influencer, a website will help you enhance your personal brand.
Your site will be the main highlight of your personal brand and online presence. Via your personal website, you will be able to showcase all the information you want to show to the world. One of the biggest benefits of having your own site is that you can optimize it, so that it ranks well on online searches of your name in Google, Yahoo, Bing and other major search engines.
If your site has a clear and accurate title and meta description (the short description that appears below the site’s title on search engines), it will probably be the first link that people will click. And if recruiters, random people or even customers find all the information they are looking for on your site, they might not spend more time surfing the web for relative info about you.
What are my options?
Creating your own site is not a difficult task. But it requires a good amount of time, effort and money in order to be 100% professional, beautiful and effective. There are paid but also free ways to get a personal site up.
The most professional way to do it is to buy your own domain and webspace. In this way you will be able to have your own custom URL like mine for example “www.manoliszografakis.com” as well as your personalised email such as “email@example.com”. If you want some help on building your personal brand and your own website just get in touch to talk about how I can help you and what options you may have.
If you don’t have a big enough budget to invest in your personal website, you can set up a free one via a website builder like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or Doodlekit. These website builders give you the option to create and host your site for free without any strings attached. There are also some great personal website builders that you could use. Websites like about.me and branded.me are exclusively dedicated to personal branding.
Nevertheless, having a free site in one of the above mentioned platforms has various limitations (for example it will provide limited amount of space, advertisements will be placed on your website and more). In a future blog post, I will mention steps and tips to help you build your own website (free or paid) and the most important things to consider when choosing between free or paid website.
#3 Start Blogging
After setting up your personal site, you can start expressing your ideas through blog posts. Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and knowledge of your industry or profession. You don’t need to be a journalist or an author to write blog posts and, of course, you don’t need to write a brand new blog post every single day (although some sort of regularity in posting is important).
Blogging on a regular basis can be a useful tool for building your career and personal brand. I recommend having a fresh blog spot once a week or at least every 2 weeks.
- Pick a subject that you are familiar with and write articles around different topics on that exact subject.
- Feel free to write your own thoughts and ideas and try to be creative.
- Include news, trends, analysis, infographics, commentary, links and of course your own views.
- After publishing a blog post you can let people know about it on your social media or in various related groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.
- You can also do guest blogging in blogs and sites related to your sector. In this way you build authority around your name and when employers google it, they will find several references where you have contributed, written or shared content related to your field.
Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.
#4 Have a professional email address and signature
Your email address – through which you contact potential employers – should reflect a professional image. Therefore, as I said above, if you have a budget to invest, you should definitely buy your own webspace and domain name. In this way, you own a custom domain name and email address.
If you don’t have a budget for this, fret not. There is a still professional way to have a decent professional email address. The best option is to set up an email account using a simple version of your name. For example, if your name is John Doe, you could set up an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Professional Email Signature
Perhaps, you have received in the past an email from a random person, friend or colleague and you were astonished by their beautiful signature, right? I should let you know that you can easily have a similar professional signature without spending a penny. There are several free to use websites that can help you build a beautiful email signature in just a few minutes.
They offer many well designed templates that you can use. Moreover they let you import all the important info you need to communicate who you are and what you do. For example, you can include:
- Social Profiles with icons
For example, check out below a sample signature that I created for myself with the free signature builder Wisestamp:
#5 Use Social Media Wisely
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube can help you establish your reputation and stand out from your industry. They provide a great way to reach your audience. Here are some major tips:
- Find the platforms that most of your target audience uses. Try to focus your attention and effort to 2 or max 3 social media. I suggest you to have at least a Facebook and LinkedIn page.
- Pinterest and Instagram are image-oriented social media. Therefore, both are great for photographers, artists, designers, companies or professionals who can use images to promote their work.
- Upload the same profile photo to all different social media sites that you use, so that you’ll be easily identifiable across your networks.
- Use your real name instead of your nickname or alias so that people can find you easily. You can use Knowem to see if your name is available on over 500 popular social networks.
- Use a catchy distinctive headline or bio that describes you the best. You can use your elevator pitch or a shorter version of it.
- Have a consistent aesthetic (colour, style and tone) across your profiles.
Content and Posting Tips:
Review all your social media profiles to be sure they are up-to-date containing your most current information (current work info, correct email, website URL, etc.)
- Take care of your existing photos, posts and info (delete the ones which can harm your online brand) and carefully curate your future ones, so that help build up your brand.
- If you use twitter: According to a recent study those who tweet more have the most followers.
- Use each social media wisely. Keep in mind that the way you post changes depending on the social media channel — for example, every Twitter post can be maximum 140 characters, while on Facebook it can go more than 60,000 characters.
- Think twice before posting. Be sure that the message you’re trying to communicate cannot and will not damage your personal brand. Every post matters, so always post carefully, because the world is watching (people that you know, but also strangers can see your posts). For example, don’t post about how much you hate job hunting or recruiters and hiring managers or about how many beers you drunk the night before.
- Don’t post negative comments about your previous employers and don’t be critical all the time. You want to show a nice image of you as a pleasant person to work with.
- Use hashtags properly. Most of the social media support hashtags, so you need to know how to use them properly. Check out the dos and don’ts of how to use hashtags.
- Find groups and pages that are affiliated with your sector and participate in conversation and exchange of ideas and respond to questions and comments. Quora, Focus and LinkedIn are all places where people ask and answer questions related to business sectors. By answering to those questions, you get exposure and you create value around your name.
- Remember that it’s good to answer to a question when you are sure you’ve got the answer and that you will bring an added value to the conversation.
- Post consistently. According to bufferapp’s recent research the best practise is:
Facebook: 2 times per day
Twitter: 3 times per day
LinkedIn: 1 time per day
Google+: 3 times per day
Pinterest: 5 times per day
Instagram: 1.5 times per day
* The following graph from blog.bufferapp.com shows the correlation between Tweeting more and getting more followers.
LinkedIn is essential for job seekers because it is the number 1 career related social media network. That’s why you need to pay great attention when building your LinkedIn profile. There are various reasons why LinkedIn is very important for your online reputation. Via LinkedIn you can:
- Showcase your CV and work experience
- Connect with others in your industry
- Express your ideas and share your tips regarding your industry
- Find new jobs
- Get referrals
- Post articles about your industry to enhance your brand and reach new audience
There are several tips for building a great LinkedIn profile. Below I mention some essential ones.
- Customise your profile picture and headline (you could use your elevator pitch here)
- Use rich multi-media such as pictures, slides, video, and other graphics in your Summary and Experience sections.
- If you have a short video of a talk that you have given you can incorporate it into your profile to make it look fancier.
- If you feel confident about your knowledge on your field you should join LinkedIn groups and discussions to express your thoughts on hot topics. You can use these groups to present yourself as a passionate and well informed professional. Don’t talk about your job search but rather start interesting discussions, share your opinion and relevant articles and answer questions related to your sector.
- Remember to always be polite and think twice before posting because hiring managers are monitoring and also participating in these same discussions.
- Take a nice professional photo for your LinkedIn. Surely you can ask a friend of yours to take a half-decent picture of you with their camera or iPhone. You should be alone without your cat, dog, pals, kids or better half. If you need to wear a suit in your profession then wear a suit also for the photoshoot).
You can find more interesting tips through this guide.
If you follow the above tips you will manage to create the base of a strong personal brand and online presence. That’s all folks!
Just get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.