If you are serious about your career, you should be as serious about building your personal brand. Whatever profession you are in, whether employed or in business, a personal brand identity helps you show the world who you are and what you care about. Thanks to the internet, anyone can build a brand and showcase their portfolio, skills, and qualities to the world at no cost at all.
One common misconception is that branding is reserved for businesses only. Not true, any person, including you and me, can be successful in personal branding and put out our unique combination of skills and experiences that make us different from the next person.
Many also tend to think that personal branding is for celebrities. Well, you are a celebrity in your field. You don’t have to be a celebrity, influencer or business owner to create a personal brand. Developing a personal brand could be just what your glowing resume needs to catch a break.
In this article, I discuss what personal branding is, why you should build an online personal brand and how to go about creating a personal brand.
Also Read: How to Build a Brand in Kenya
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the practice of marketing your unique combination of skills, experience, and expertise for the world to see you. It’s the telling of your story, maintaining a reputation and impression of you as an individual. By creating a personal brand, you tell the world of things that matter to you, your principles and values, attitudes and behavior.
Why you should build an online personal brand
Show your value
We will never know your value until you show it to us. Since you cannot send your cv to everyone’s inbox, you can develop platforms whereby you can openly showcase your qualifications, skills, experience, and expertise. The internet offers you a wide platform to show your expertise in certain areas and gain the recognition and respect of people in the field.
Invite like-minded people
By sharing what matters to you, your brand invites people with similar interests and you get an opportunity to connect with like-minded people. If you are passionate about certain matters, it’s not easy to find friends and family that are passionate in the same areas. However, when you have an online personal brand, and you speak about these issues through various channels, you reach out to people with similar interests. You can join and discuss these issues that matter to you and perhaps even make a difference since there is power in numbers. For example, your career could be in medicine, but you are passionate about matters involving crimes against children. By sharing this interest, you invite similar people and you have the potential to create a movement that could lead to some impact in this area.
You improve your visibility
There is someone out there who may be looking for exactly what you have to offer. They may not have known it or said it, and you may not know they are looking for it. by sharing your expertise and your portfolio you improve your visibility and your personal brand gains recognition which may be just the break you need in your career.
A 2018 survey showed that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates for hiring. This means that what you post on social media could speak for you and attract the right eyeballs. Further research has shown that the average person switches jobs every 2 or 3 years and that by 2020, more people will be taking up freelance work. By making yourself visible online, you could be putting yourself where your next employer or client is and securing your next paycheck.
Share your opinions and ideas
The internet offers you an opportunity to share your opinions and ideas. You never know who could be listening. You can also use your platform to help others in areas you are passionate about. For example, I am passionate about personal development through self-education. I cannot get to talk about this at my regular job and reaching out to my friends is not sufficient. However, through blogging and sharing my ideas and opinions on social media, I reach out to different people who would like to improve the value of their lives in various ways. The beauty of the internet is that it has no limits. If I was building a personal brand offline, I would only reach out to so many people. But the number of people I reach through the internet are countless and limitless. As opposed to giving a lecture where you pass information to a group of people and I am done in an hour, the internet offers the opportunity for the message I pass to be watched over and over and will still be relevant 10 years from now.
How to build a personal brand
Choose a name and settle with it
Building a personal brand will be consistent if you pass information under a certain name. if you choose to use your full name, for example, choose and settle with it. Claim this name and remember that this name is a representation of your brand and therefore choose what you want it to be associated with. If you want to be known as a person of integrity, remember not to go around posting things you wouldn’t like to be associated with.
Create social media accounts
Create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other media you feel comfortable in. these are the media you will use to spread your ideas. Use these options wisely and avoid associating them with opinions that you feel do not reflect you as a person.
Choose your channels wisely
There are so many social media platforms and gaining a presence in all these can be overwhelming. I am assuming that posting on social media is not your fulltime job and that you have a lot of other things on your plate. In the beginning, you may start off posting on all channels, but sooner or later, it will become obvious which platform you are comfortable in or which you have ease in creating followers. After knowing this, you may choose this platform as your main platform. The platforms also depend on the kind of audience you seek to attract. For example, in Instagram, you attract a certain demographic such as individuals between the ages of 20 and 34 and on other platforms such as linked in, you may attract an older demographic. Depending on what your personal brand is about, choose the platform that works for you. You may continue to post in all platforms, but focus more time on the platform that works best for you.
Buy a domain name
Today, you may not be in need of it, but buying the domain in the name you choose for your brand could come in handy in the future. This leads me to the next point
Build a website
Your website, under your chosen domain name, can act as a platform whereby you display your qualifications, skills, and experience as well as where you share your ideas and opinions. A website doesn’t have to be complicated, you can just put in your portfolio, what you do, and contacts where you can be reached. Depending on the purpose of your personal brand, you can choose to create content. This can be in the form of images, writing or videos which you can share on your website as well.
Optimize your website
Search engine optimization is really important for your website. The common techniques of optimizing your website are on-page SEO or off-page SEO. The reason you should optimize your website is so that people searching for services similar to the ones you offer can find you. For example, if you are an accountant and offer financial planning services auditing services or tax return services, you can optimize your website to rank for such words. People searching for these services in your area, such as in Nairobi, can find you and contact you for a job opportunity, advice and even for the services.
Find a channel to reach pass on your messages
As much as I encourage creating a website, I agree websites are not for everyone. This is especially because filling websites with content requires writing, a task that not many enjoy. Thankfully, you can reach out to people through videos, images, podcasts and even ebooks. I know, ebooks require writing, and this is why we have freelance writers. You can describe the idea you want to communicate with a freelance writer, and they can lay it out in an ebook that you can share with your target audience. You can also buy a microphone and start a podcast even at the comfort of your home. The most popular way people with personal brands use to communicate is by use of videos. This could by using features such as Facebook live or IGTV or create videos which you can upload on YouTube or social media platforms.
Focus on areas you have a real interest in
When developing an online presence, you may be influenced to get into certain topics just because they are popular and attract more attention. If you find yourself in such a situation, chances are that you will lose interest in this area sooner or later. Instead, focus on areas you have an actual interest in. it may not attract the attention of masses, but will attract those that matter, and it’s just a few of those individuals whose attention you might need.
By consistency, I mean in time and content. If you are focused on passing a certain message, be consistent in what you post. You can’t be for something today and against it tomorrow. People will not trust you and if your aim is to attract a client or an employer, no one wants to be associated with someone who doesn’t know what they stand for. In addition, be consistent and post regularly. If you make a post and disappear for 6 months, chances as you will lose the attention of those following you.
No man is an island and even online, you need the help of others to advance your brand. Reach out to people with similar interests and collaborate with them such that you offer them something and they offer you something in return. For example, you might offer someone financial advice for them to offer you a platform to talk about your services on their blog or YouTube channel. You can also join online communities such as Facebook groups, forums and other platforms whereby individuals in your line of interest meet online. When in such platforms, don’t get straight to the point that you want to offer A B C services. Instead, build a reputation such as by answering questions in your areas of expertise and before you know it, you get recognized as being an expert in this area.
Most importantly, be yourself
Be yourself; everyone else is taken- Oscar Wilde
If you have certain mentors or role models who have successfully built their brand online, you might find yourself imitating them. While imitation is the best form of flattery, it flatters them and your imitation is to their benefit. To create a unique online personal brand, be yourself. As Oscar Wilde says, everyone else is taken. There is a certain respect that comes with someone who stands for something, even when they are alone in it. Stand for what you believe in and be yourself. Try not to copy what others are doing and develop an online personal brand that is uniquely yours.
Guest post by Sarah Wanjohi
Sarah writes about personal development through self-education.
You can check out her website at https://thebookofsarah.com