Cultivating your brand is the secret to growing your business. Whether you’re a freelancer or an entrepreneur, personal branding matters because we live in a digital age where separating your work life and social life is no longer an option. People who want to know more about you will not reach out to your family or friends or request a one-on-one interview with you. They will turn to the Internet and Google your name, following every digital footprint you’ve left behind.
Branding is often viewed as self-promotion or creating an enhanced version of yourself that people will like. However, building your brand is more about curating and controlling your image and voice so that it is an accurate representation of what you truly stand for. Your brand is what sets you apart, making you identifiable when compared to competitors in your field. By building your brand correctly, you increase your ability to get the right job or attract the best talent for your company.
Here’s how you can start building and growing your personal brand today:
Define Who You Are
Establishing your brand begins with identifying who you are. What are your strengths? What are your goals? What do you stand for? What do you want to be known for? What message do you want to communicate to your audience?
Remember, this isn’t about crafting a persona and positioning yourself as something you’re not.
Audit Your Search Results and Clean Up Your Content
Find out what search results are attached to your name. If there is anything you think may put your brand at risk, take steps to delete them.
You may not realize it, but you’ve been building your hallmark for some time, mainly if you’ve been actively commenting on public forums for years or on Facebook since it first launched 15 years ago. Now that you’ve decided to build your brand actively, there may be some statuses or photos you posted years ago that no longer reflects who you are today.
Clean up material that doesn’t match the image you’re cultivating. Delete old photos, statuses, and comments that don’t accurately tell your story or show your journey. Remove old content that may contradict who you are today or posts that you now regret putting out there. You don’t want potential clients or employers finding old postings that exhibit unprofessional behavior.
Create and Implement a Content Strategy
Everything you post moving forward should showcase your passions, interests, skills, and accomplishments. Identify your target audience, the best places to connect with them, and the kind of material that interests them.
Build up the online assets that help you control your brands such as securing domain names and websites. Start simple by creating social media accounts across social media channels where most of your audience can be found. Optimize your profiles and site for the search engines. Fill out all your profiles completely, include relevant keywords, and consistently use your full name across all your social media accounts and domains.
Growing your brand involves increasing your visibility. Leverage social media and your blog to get your message out. Build credibility by writing strategic content and publish it on channels where your target audience will have the opportunity to discover your content and get to know you.
Remember, the key to growing your audience is to engage. Let us help you tell your story and build your brand.
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J. Sanders is a branding and advertising guru, as well as a PMP certified Project Manager. He has worked with top companies and startups to improve their branding over a decade.