Editor’s note: This article is part of a featured series that tackles the basics of reputation management. In our Reputation Management 101 series, you’ll learn about basic (but important) concepts, tasks, and tips for reputation management. Each post will include actionable advice and realistic ideas that you can use — today — to improve your online reputation. Join us as we explore reputation management resources that everyone should know!
Branding highlights what makes you unique. It’s what sets you apart, and it includes your reputation, expertise, even your network. And while we often think of branding on the corporate level, your personal brand has become more important than ever before. Your personal brand can help you earn new opportunities, support your career, and help you build a great reputation.
Why You Need a Personal Brand
A strong personal brand shows anyone who is interested that you’ve got it together. It highlights your professionalism, trustworthiness, and a good reputation. That can lead to a practically unlimited number of benefits, including:
- Better job opportunities
- A stronger professionl and personal network
- New clients and business partners
- Promotions and raises, project opportunities
- Leadership positions
- Awards and recognition
Essentially, building a personal brand makes you more recognizable and easy to point to as a trusted resource for your area of expertise and talent.
How You Can Build a Personal Brand Online
Developing a personal brand is valuable and often beneficial. How exactly can you do it? Earning a great reputation, developing authentic values, strengthening your network, and becoming an expert are some of the most important ways you can work on developing your personal brand, both online and offline.
Earn a Great Reputation
One of the most important ways to develop your personal brand is to earn a great reputation. What people think of you and discuss about you can influence your personal brand — and support it as well.
- Be dependable and consistent: Show up on time and deliver on what you promise. People should know what they can expect from you and that they can depend on you to pull through.
- Offer a great attitude: Be a positive, can do person that people want to work with.
- Show trustworthiness: Do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
- Volunteer and be helpful: Show that you’re always willing to help out.
- Take action: Be known as a doer, someone who gets things done dependably.
- Support your team: Be a team player and always be ready to help out your colleagues.
- Be known for something: What are you good at doing? Let everyone know! Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. If you don’t promote yourself, who will?
Define What Makes You Unique
Often, building a personal brand means working on self awareness. Define your strengths, values, and passions, and work to highlight them in your personal brand.
It’s also essential to be authentic. This can’t be understated. Be yourself, and own it. Show off what you genuinely like and are interested in, and allow yourself to shine where you do well.
Develop a Strong Network
Strong brands often associate with other strong brands. Building a great network can help you to develop a personal brand by making yourself more well known and supporting your good reputation by connecting with others who are well known and respected.
- Reach out to established networks: Look into your alumni network, professional networks, local networks, community associations, and more.
- Connect with a mentor: Reach out to a mentor who can help you build your personal brand and network. You can look to industry leaders, family, friends, colleagues, bosses both former and current. Also consider professors and individuals from professional organizations. Get in touch and stay in touch, and ask them for help — while also offering your own.
- Connect with peers: Get and stay connected with colleagues, industry peers, even friends and family to build your network.
- Surround yourself with experts: Be known as the person with great connections to experts who can lend a hand — and get help from those experts yourself.
- Offer value to your network: Offer help without expecting anything in return — because eventually, it will always come back around. Plus, helping others makes you look good, and everyone wants to know and be connected with others who can offer value. Remember to recognize people who have helped you as well.
- Engage with your network: Go to networking events, visit with people in your network, and connect with individuals on social media to stay active.
- Don’t underestimate LinkedIn: Use LinkedIn to build your network digitally. Connect with, endorse, and recommend others. Be sure to complete your profile and use keywords to make your profile more attractive to others. Consider creating a group to highlight your area of expertise as well.
Be Active on Social Media
These days, so much of personal branding exists on social media. Sure, your own website, blog, and expert opportunities are a significant part of personal branding, but you just can’t miss out on the branding opportunities available on social media. Using social media, you can position yourself as an expert, develop a community, reach out and network with others, and more.
- Register on important social media websites: Use KnowEm to find out if your name or username is available on more than 500 different websites. Or, simply stick to the most important social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and other peopular services.
- Develop a complete, consistent profile: When you register, take the time to fill out your profiles completely with relevant details. Use your real name and stay consistent with the name and details you use with each service, including photos. You should also be using a professional head shot photo to establish trust and consistent, recognizable branding.
- Connect with industry influencers: Social media offers great access to experts and influencers in your industry. This is a good opportunity to build your network and expand on your brand.
- Be a news source: Become known as an expert in your field by sharing relevant information and up to date news sources.
- Develop a community: Consider your area of expertise and start a community around it. You’ll be able to position yourself as a leader and an expert at once.
Develop Your Own Voice
While social media is an important part of personal branding, it’s not the only resource you need to use to establish a strong personal brand presence online. You’ll need your own domain, blog, and other ways to position yourself as a leader and trusted resource in your area of expertise.
- Own your personal domain: We covered the importance of domains last month, but it’s worth mentioning again just how important it is to own the domain name for your real name. Just ask Carly Fiorina how important it is to own your domains: she announced that she’s running for President only to have carlyfiorina.org used to highlight the layoff of 30,000 employees in her past.
- Develop a website, write a blog, or both: Use your domain to develop a website that highlights your talents. That could mean static pages with portfolio pieces, information, and more, or it can be regularly updated, like a blog. Make sure that whatever you’ve developed, it’s search engine friendly with essential keywords as well as meta titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags for photos.
- Offer your expertise: Position yourself as an expert and get exposure by guest blogging, writing columns, or speaking as an expert. Find opportunities on industry blogs that encourage experts with a Write For Us page, or simply contact blogs or website you admire with a pitch for an expert article.
- Get quoted: In addition to writing articles, you can get quoted as an expert. Engage with reporters and bloggers in your network, or join Help A Reporter Out to get connected with new journalists seeking quotes from experts.
- Join online groups: Be an expert in online groups as well. Resources like Quora, LinkedIn groups, or even Facebook groups are a great place to get connected with others and offer your expertise.
Building a Personal Brand Essentials
There’s so much you can do to build a personal brand online. While it’s a good idea to do everything you can, that’s not always realistic. If you’re just getting started or you’re short on time, try these absolute essentials for building your personal brand and supporting your reputation online:
- Build a reputation of dependability and trust.
- Identify and highlight your values and unique capabilities.
- Develop and connect with your network on LinkedIn.
- Become active on 1-2 social media networks with your real name and a professional persona.
- Buy your personal domain name .com/.net/.org and start a static website or blog.
- Offer expert quotes or answers on Help A Reporter Out or Quora.