Branding is the art of shaping a perception – helping others think, know and feel something. We’re used to associating brands with companies, but the importance of personal branding is a relatively new concept. While big names like Oprah and Bill Gates understand the power and influence their personal brand has on the successes of their business and philanthropic endeavors, the importance of personal branding applies to the rest of us as well. Chartwell recently presented a training session on the topic to the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Council, and here are some tips we shared to audit and thoughtfully cultivate your personal brand.
1. Develop Your Message Map
The first question you should ask yourself when developing your personal brand is, “How do I want to be known?” Do you want to be perceived as a high-energy, team player? A thoughtful, data-driven decision-maker? A change agent? Knowing how you want to be perceived will allow you to shape the way you share information, knowledge and insight with others, which in turn, shapes your brand.
When was the last time you googled yourself to see what comes up? An audit of your online presence is a great next step. Pay special attention to your social media platforms – gone are the days for clear lines between personal and professional personas. Your professional contacts are just as able to view your Facebook page as they are your LinkedIn. And by the way, that MySpace page still exists out there…
3. Review Privacy Settings
Speaking of social media, review your privacy settings to ensure that others don’t inadvertently post images or content about you that doesn’t align with your brand. View your social media pages as a friend and a stranger to see how your page presents you. Request a privacy setting that requires your approval before posting to your page or tagging you in a photo. And don’t feel badly about asking a friend to remove a photo or a reference that makes you uncomfortable. After all, this is your brand.
4. Purchase Your Own URL
One of the best ways to own an online presence (and control an online brand) is through a website. By purchasing your own URL (which can often be purchased for $10 – $20/year) and building a basic website, you’ll have the ability to ensure that anyone who searches for your name will likely be directed to the information you want them to see. Your website doesn’t have to be robust. A simple page highlighting your capabilities, interests and involvements is a great start. There are plenty of website builders that make shaping your site a breeze, even if you aren’t a graphic designer or programmer.
5. Give Back and Share YOU
Personal branding doesn’t revolve around talking about yourself. Your personal brand helps you – and others – see what you are best suited to contribute to friends, colleagues and your community. By giving back in a way that is authentic to you – nurturing relationships, sharing information, connecting people, offering advice, developing content – you’ll be shaping your personal brand and driving your value.