Your personal brand tells people who you are, showcases your strengths and talents, and helps establish your image. Taking the time to intentionally design your brand can help you achieve your professional goals. It’s important that your brand has a clear focus, is authentic to who you are, and stays consistent over time.
Kat Shanahan suggests five tips to help build your personal brand:
Tip 1: Review your Google search results
It’s easy for employers to Google candidates to check if they’re the kind of person they want to hire. According to The Denver Post, nearly half of those who Google themselves find that the results don’t reflect them in the way they want. Make an effort to regularly run your name through Google to analyze the results. Take down anything you wouldn’t want seen by potential employers, such as old blog posts you wrote for a college class or photos you’ve been tagged in on social media that don’t match your brand.
Tip 2: Maintain a consistent social presence
Social media profiles can be an asset when growing your brand. Use the same name on all profiles, as consistency is key to influencing an audience. When filling out a LinkedIn profile, writing in third person can improve search engine optimization which controls what comes up via Google. It’s important to include your location when possible. This can help cut through the clutter when others have the same or similar names.
Tip 3: Create a personal website
A personal website is a significant asset to building a brand, and it doesn’t have to take long to create. Website builders like WordPress or Squarespace make it easy to set up a website while still looking clean and professional. Your site needs to be maintainable and include relevant content that showcases your talent. Don’t include unfinished projects or highlight a blog series if you don’t plan on committing time toward it.
Tip 4: Reflect your audience
Your audience determines your brand. Think about how you can reflect your audience in your branding efforts. One way to do this while searching for a new job is using the company’s mission statement in your cover letter to tell them how your personal brand and their brand align. This can differentiate you from other candidates, and make it easy for your audience to see the similarities in what you both value.
Tip 5: Be visible where it makes sense for you
Though the above tips suggest maintaining many social media accounts and a personal website, you need to do what feels right for you. If you know you can’t dedicate effort to a blog, don’t have a blog on your website. If Snapchat doesn’t feel like the right platform to grow your brand, then don’t use it. Use the platforms that you know your audiences uses. At the end of the day your brand is about you, so dedicate time and resources to what you can do well.
Kat Shanahan is the senior director of strategic marketing for the Center for Professional & Executive Development at the Wisconsin School of Business. She has more than 10 years of experience building brands while creating and implementing strategic marketing plans for large and small organizations across a variety of industries.