Personal Branding Tips

Personal branding

You may not like what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.  You have got something in common with Coca-Cola, IBM and McDonalds – you are a brand.  If you want to stand out as a person, be it in the workplace, on social media, or wherever, then building up your personal brand is important, and there have never been more avenues to express your brand than right now in 2014.

So, how do you get started with personal branding, and how do you continue to build your brand?

Define who you are and who you want to me (they will be different): This is an obvious one, but it was not so long ago that I was working in a non-marketing role, but really wanted to work in marketing again – so, I spent some time retraining in digital marketing and that has helped me make that transition.  I wanted to change my personal brand into a digital marketing expert, and keeping that expertise is a full time job…..but it’s the job I love.  So, be honest about where you are now and where you want to be: getting this right will help you build your branding plan.

What platform are we on? By a platform I mean a way that people can find out all about you and your brand without necessarily knocking on your front door and having a chat!  As a digital marketer, it was pretty clear to me that I should start my own website (iamjustinwilson.com), so some years ago, I did exactly that.  I am no programmer, but I was able to create a decent looking site with next to no money.  However, LinkedIn are now rolling out the chance for you to publish on their site and those published articles will appear on your profile – this is brilliant!  One of the challenges about starting a new platform is building the network (hopefully they will talk about your brand with you and others), but on LinkedIn, you probably already have at least a few dozen connections – your network awaits!

Walk the walk: If you are making proclamations in your ‘personal brand communication’ but not following it through in real life, you are going to get found out.  You should live by your brand values (for example, being a source of digital marketing information, and trying to contribute positively to the digital community) – history is littered with companies whose failed products do not live up to their brand values, so don’t fall into their trap.

Always moving: This one is much easier to say than to do.  Your personal brand should be a dynamic one, always looking to learn and try new things: and if you have developed a great platform, then you need to talk about your experiences, both positive and negative – this will continue to build your brand.

Be unique: This is very much a tip that applies to personal and business brands.  The Unique Selling Point (*marketing jargon alert, sorry*) is what will help you stand out in a very busy environment, so you should think about how you can stand out – for example, it may be that you talk candidly about your personal experiences and mistakes.  See what’s already out there and identify what is missing – and fill that gap.

Image via mashable.com

Get more from LinkedIn

LinkedIn

LinkedInIn my opinion, LinkedIn is one of the most under-utilised social networks around today.  Lots of people have a profile on LinkedIn, but there is so much more to it than just that!  So, what else can you do on a social network that has almost 250 million people on it?

Get the basics right:  The first thing that you need to do is make sure that you are representing yourself as you would like to.  So, make sure that your profile has a good amount of information on it (not too much, not too little!), and make sure that you have a photo – there are a lot of spam LinkedIn accounts and a profile with no photo is one of the red flags.  Show that you are a human!

Who do you want to hear from?  There are a lot of companies on LinkedIn, so if you have an interest in a company, or they are a competitor of yours, then follow them and see what they are up to.  This will not only give you their news (assuming that they are sending updates!), but also a chance to interact with the company by commenting on their update.  This can be useful if you are trying to get on a company’s radar.

Groups are awesome:  Groups are my favourite part of LinkedIn.  Nowhere else on the web can you find groups of such specific people – whatever your job, it is likely that there is a LinkedIn group where you can get all of the latest news and make some new connections.  But don’t just sit back and read then news, get involved.  Add comments, start discussions and interact with people on groups – they are a great way of professionally meeting new people.

Take the hard sell elsewhere:  As with any social network, if you are selling all the time, then you are going to turn people off.  So, instead of just commenting on posts where you have a platform to sell your product, add some value back into the network too, e.g. by offering useful advice – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sell where it is appropriate, but remember to change the record!

Consider the audience:  This is one of the pillars of marketing, and it is very important on LinkedIn.  I would guess that the majority of people who are on LinkedIn also have a Facebook account.  But they will post about very different subjects because they are portraying different sides of their personality, and are open to different messages.  So, don’t post about your friend’s stag do on LinkedIn, trust me, I have actually seen that!  LinkedIn is a professional network, so tailor your content accordingly.