Brand & Mortar specializes in business of branding companies and organizations for the digital age, but what if you’re a one-(wo)man show? What if you’re not trying to sell products and services, but yourself to an employer or potential client? What if you just want to establish a greater online presence in your network, perhaps become a face that stands out from an ever endless crowd?
This is what we refer to as personal branding: marketing yourself as a brand, highlighting your strengths, experiences, and place in the world. Improving your own branding is very similar to that of building a brand for a business or organization; you’re making yourself unique and likeable, setting down roots so you (hopefully) stand the test of time.
In this day and age, its becoming more and more essential to become knowledgeable about social media and digital communications; websites, blogs and social media platforms are playing larger parts in our lives as we become more involved in everyone else’s lives. So how do you go ahead developing your own personal brand? Don’t fear; you’ve got a lot of options to keep others in the digital-know about your own development, be it about your career path or last weekend’s camping trip.
Website and Portfolio
Owning a website or digital portfolio on a pre-hosted web service can set up a digital foundation for you, no matter what you do or what point in life you’re in. Want to look like an industry leader or a know-it-all? Starting a blog detailing both your life experiences and your knowledge in your field will help both humanize don’t know you personally and make you stand out as an influencer.
There are countless options out there these days for blogs and personal branding outlets: Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger are some of the larger free ‘blog’ content management systems (CMS) out there with some impressive flexibility. Looking for a portfolio theme? These web services offer that flexibility quickly and easily.
If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more stream lined and solely oriented towards your life experiences and your career path, you might want to consider some other alternatives. Sometimes, all you need is a simple page that highlights who you are, building your digital foundation one step at a time. About.me, Flavors.me and Zerply are some of the more popular names in personal, one-page branding services. They give visitors a quick blurb about your life, your passions, where you’ve been, and how you got there (in addition to details about education and career status). They’ve each got their own advantages and disadvantages, but they require basically zero setup time and are easy to share with friends or include in your resumes and other communications collateral.
When it comes to a professional network to help build your own personal brand, Linkedin is second to none. Yes, Facebook might be the largest network out there today (1.3 billion people), but it is continually becoming less and less relevant to those who delve into business communications and corporate image. Your Linkedin profile should be up to date with your latest information, which includes career advances, your skills, milestones in your life, and more. This should be your baseline in social media; create posts to share with others in your network and across Linkedin, and interact with groups and discussions to get yourself out there.
I’ll touch briefly on the less specialized social networks, but only along a certain vein: professionalism. When you’re using Facebook, twitter, and other social networks that specialize in the use of visual media in addition to text, be sure you aren’t posting things you’ll regret; as a basic rule of thumb, if your mom wouldn’t approve of it, think twice about posting it. This includes your photos, comments and replies; it not a perfect rule, but big businesses go through PR disasters more often than you might think, and you’re just as likely (if not more so) to make yourself look less notable than the next candidate lined up for that job. Be professional, but don’t be dull, either; post interesting content, especially hanging out with friends, cool tips, reviews and conversations online and linking insightful articles about your industry. Branding is about the looks, yes, but also about how genuine you are behind the smoke cloud.