What Makes A Good Personal Brand?

Establishing your own personal brand online allows you to tell your own story as you want it to be told, to establish yourself as a ‘thought leader’ in your industry, to create something bigger than the business and the product, and to produce real value for your followers.

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It can be a critical component of your business when you’re an entrepreneur but also when you’re applying to a job. Recruiters are likely to look you up online and see what they can find. Rather than wait until you're looking for a new job, get a head start today - so that when you need it, it's already there.

Here are 7 first steps to get you started in establishing your personal brand online:

1. Define your story

Before telling your story, you’ll need to work out what that story will be. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What are your core values?

  • What are your personal strengths and skills?

  • What do you want to be known for?

  • What are your unique personality traits?

  • What will make you stand out versus your competition?

Choose the key elements from your answers to these questions and craft a short paragraph that you can use as a basis for all your communication online.

To get really crisp and concise about what it is you do, you can try the following “elevator pitch” formula:

  • What do you do?

  • For whom?

  • For what purpose?

E.g. I do x for people who y so that they z.

2. Check your online presence

Now that you have the story you want to tell, let’s take a look at what story you’re actually telling today. Start by Googling yourself and see what appears first. Is it your personal Facebook profile? Click on the image tab: which photos of you are listed here and are they the ones you want to come first? You can set up Google alerts to monitor new mentions going forward.

Next, go through your various profiles and platforms and see what story you’re telling there. Note down any areas that need updating. If you have lots of inappropriate photos on Facebook then visit your privacy settings and make sure that all photos and posts are restricted to your friends.

3. Review (or create!) your LinkedIn profile

There are so many different social networks out there but for the professional world the main one you want to worry about is LinkedIn. I could write a whole post just on optimising your LinkedIn profile but here are some quick tips:

  1. Get a professional photo

  2. Customize your headline

  3. Write a clear summary

  4. Describe each of your past and current positions

  5. Get recommendations from past employers

  6. Add your key skills

4. Claim your other social media profiles

They say Twitter is dying but for those of us who use it the benefits can be huge, including staying on top of the latest news but also publishing our blog posts and, importantly, connecting with our peers and with potential clients in our field.

When selecting the right social network(s), you need to think about who you are, what your business is, and who your clients are. For example, there’s no point in setting up an Instagram account if you hate taking photos and don’t like sharing aspects of your lifestyle publicly. Likewise there’s no point in getting into Periscope and Snapchat if your target audience isn’t on there.

You may also want to claim your handle (your name) on new networks to make sure that you protect your own brand and prevent other people from using it, even if you aren’t yet active on there.

5. Create a personal website

A LinkedIn profile, along with other social networks, can be a great start but if you want to get serious about building your brand online you really need a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be just a couple of pages with a short bio, your resume, and your contact details and links to your social network profiles. You can create something quite nice just on Tumblr or you can try something like Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace. Get a custom domain name (yourname.com rather than yourname.wordpress.com) and get someone to proofread all the copy for you, especially if you’re not a native English speaker (that goes for all online platforms).

6. Use a professional email address

Please, please, PLEASE don’t use a Hotmail address for professional contacts. It’s embarrassing. Really. Gmail is the standard these days so at minimum you should get something like yourname@gmail.com. It’s even better if you can secure your own domain name. You’ll get this automatically if you have your own website, e.g. john@johnsmith.com

or why not hello@johnsmith.com. Eventually you can even add other email addresses to reflect the size of your business, for example, you can have media@johnsmith.com, careers@johnsmith.com, and so on.

7. Produce valuable content

It’s nice to have a presence on different networks but if you stop there no one’s actually going to know that you exist. Start by commenting on, and sharing, other people's content; but then you need to be creating and publishing valuable content for your peers to read and engage with. It’s completely up to you which format you choose here.

If you enjoy writing then adding a blog to your personal website could be a good idea; this will also get you appearing higher in search rankings.

If you’re more of a verbal person, why not try podcasting or vlogging? The medium will also determine which platform you choose, for example, YouTube might be interesting for video, or maybe Periscope. Whichever format and platform you choose, be purposeful: each blog post you write, each tweet you send, is adding another piece to the puzzle that is your personal brand so make sure you’re building something cohesive and effective.

If you decide to start creating your personal brand but don't know where to start, you may want to start with these 15 books to help you get started.

1. "All Marketers are Liars" by Seth Godin

You can't be wrong with American writer Saisgodine, who is also known as a top entrepreneur and public speaker.

In his "All Marketers are liars", Godin says, if you want to sell yourself well, it will be good for you, abandoning the traditional principles of marketing based on facts.

This book provides reader case studies from real branding, as well as insightful advice on how you can create compelling stories about your personal branding strategy.

2. "buzzmarketing " by Mark Hughes

Personal branding expert and real estate marketing master mark. Hughes emphasizes that individual marketers should consider external boxes, especially when it comes to sending information to people.

Hughes did not stop providing memorable, interesting marketing anecdotes that occurred in real life when people noticed a certain brand.