You already know how important it is to differentiate yourself from the competition whether you’re looking for a job or launching a business. But with the growing number of freelancers, building a personal brand is more important than ever. You need an identity that is uniquely yours to compete in today’s marketplace.
Your personal brand should distinguish you from your competition. This messaging needs to be consistent and congruent with who you are as a person. Your online personal brand should be an extension of your in-person brand.
In 7 steps I will show you how to build a brand online.
Step 1: Be authentic.
Your personal brand needs to reflect you, not a persona. Be authentic and you will be respected by the online community. Your brand should reflect your skills, passions, and beliefs. Take inventory of where you are and where you want to go. Identify your skills. Do your career goals align with your passions and your belief system? What do you value? Find the connections between these to begin to build your brand.
Step 2: Set up your name as your URL.
If you have a common name, the URL might not be available. But if it is, be sure to nab it before someone else does. You can use your site to build a portfolio, maintain a blog, or online resume. Some experts recommend getting a professional email: email@example.com. If a professional email comes with your web hosting package, it’s a good idea. The most important thing about your email is that it needs to be professional. So that old college email “hipsterjoe” has to go!
Step 3: Google your name and address what you find.
This can be a bit scary, but it is necessary. Your future employers and clients are going to Google you. This can be an arduous task so take it slowly. In the end, you want your name to reflect what you do. There are several things you can do to clean up what you find. The first being to control what you have control over. Next is to create content that is new, which also happens to be the way to build a brand online.
Step 4: Develop a social media presence.
Based on where you are in your career and personal life, you likely already have some social media channels. Give those profiles a facelift. Make sure to use the same branding across all of your platforms including consistent use of color, fonts, and style. You want people to look at a post on Instagram and recognize it as yours because it’s the same style on LinkedIn, Facebook, and your website. The most important thing you can do is be consistent.
Part of developing your social media presence is curating content. You want to create interest in your brand and that doesn’t mean selling all the time. Whether you’re using your personal brand to job hunt, sell a product, or launch a business, you need to create content that people want to read and then be consistent. When your followers are ready, they’ll reach out. It is always a good strategy to align with other brands that are similar to yours. Reach out and ask for backlinks and cross-posts.
Step 5: Listen to what’s happening in your industry and share insights.
People don’t want to read stories. They want insights –insider tips that only you have. You can give them this if you’re up to speed with your industry. Follow prominent people in your industry. Recognize influencers by shining a light on what they’re doing across your social media platforms. Listen to your followers. Learn what they want to know and then provide that information.
Step 6: Join groups and build your community.
Having a brand online means nothing if no one knows you exist. One way to build your community is to join groups and be active. Contribute advice, comment on posts, and answer questions. Be helpful. Some groups will allow you to self-promote. Do so sparingly. You’re better off being known for great content than always selling!
Step 7: Continue to develop your story.
A compelling story supports your brand. Find a way to weave your story into your messaging. Let people get to know the authentic you. You want to evoke an emotional response from your audience while building trust.
Building a brand online is about becoming an authority. You want to set yourself up as the go-to for all things related to your industry or niche. It takes time but is well worth it. A strong personal brand will open doors for your career.
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