Personal branding has become more accessible, easier, and important than ever with the emergence of technology, our digital footprints, and our quickly changing economy. Personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself, your skills and your strengths. It’s exciting because it allows you to be your own brand and, in a way, your own business without relying on the brand you might work for.
The truth is that we all have personal brands, whether you chose to or not. Your social media, your resume, your reputation, all of that makes up your personal brand. So, you might as well own it and start making your personal brand work for YOU instead of losing control over it.
Here are 9 simple steps to begin mastering personal branding, and I saved the best for last.
1. Personal Branding Business Cards
You need personal business cards above and beyond a card you might have to work. Touching on what we said above, personal branding is about marketing yourself as your own package, not just a member of your company.
Your card should contain the following information:
- Your full name
- A personal e-mail to reach you at (not your work e-mail)
- Your personal website (see #9)
It can also contain:
- Your alma mater
- Your professional and/or freelance title (ex: freelance writer, marketing professional, etc.)
- Your city or location
- Your phone number
- Your blog
The best part of personal websites is that they’re your own! Have fun with them. This is a chance for you to be creative and show people what you’ve got.
A couple simple style tips: stick to one font and 1-2 color(s) in the same color family. I like to use this website Coolors.co, which is a free color palette generating app. It’s super helpful for the stylistically challenged, like me. I also recommend you keep the fonts and colors similar to those on your personal website (more on this below!).
2. Develop an Elevator Pitch
It’s not just for startups.
What are you about? What do you care about? This can be related to your job or not. It’s really about figuring out what motivates you both for and after work. You don’t have to do super intense soul searching to find this answer. Simply think about what’s motivating you right now and what you’re really passionate about.
Let’s use Nicole Lapin as an example, one of my ultimate career role models. She has an impressive background in news, journalism, and production with an extensive and diverse resume. Yet, when you surf her social media channels, you get essential the same elevator pitch of who she is:
“Nicole Lapin is the only finance expert you don’t need a dictionary to understand”
Boom. This explains so much. We know Nicole is a financial expert, we know she considers herself the “only” one of something, meaning we can infer she must be somewhat of an entrepreneur, and she says we don’t need a dictionary to understand her, implying she’s accessible to many. What an elevator pitch!
Notice what we don’t see here?
“Nicole Lapin is a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs”
“Nicole Lapin is a financial reporter for Bloomberg”
“Nicole Lapin is an author of personal finance books”
Her elevator pitch didn’t enclose her to the title of her job or her company. Rather, it made her personality and personal brand stand out. Even though the last two of those three examples have been true for Nicole, her elevator pitch allows them all to be true and shows us that she does so because they’re part of her personal mission, not just because they’re a job paying the bills.
3. Focus on Facebook
It’s the blessing and curse of our entire generation.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m above Facebook” because you’ve subscribed to the trendy school of thought that if you get on once a year and always keep the same profile pic and don’t do much on it then you’re in the clear, I’ve got news. You’re actually not above Facebook. At all. You can even delete your Facebook if you really want to fight with me, but you’re actually robbing yourself of networking opportunities that come with a Facebook account.
Ways Facebook has helped me:
I know, we all think that’s what LinkedIn is for. Well, in my experience, I might be able to find out that I have a mutual friend with a desired connection on LinkedIn. But, to truly learn something about that potential connection, Facebook is the way to go. It also does a better job of showing who your mutual friends are as you normally use their sight. Plus, not all networking connections are professional. I had a friend once whose boyfriend helped me with a job search. Would I have known who her boyfriend was from LinkedIn? Nope.
The amount of support in Facebook Side Hustle groups, Entrepreneur groups, and so on, is incredible. Everything I’ve learned about freelancing has basically come from Facebook groups. If you are trying to start a business or make extra income of any kind, Facebook groups will be invaluable. Some of the groups I’m in have 10,000-50,000 people in them. You can ask a question and receive a response nearly instantly. You just can’t get that kind of support in person.
When I quit my job and went to Asia alone last summer (story for another day), I needed to figure out what was going in each new country, and fast. In developing countries, Google isn’t as robust quite yet. Not every restaurant or transportation method has a website. In fact, few do. Joining the Facebook groups like “Expats of Siem Reap, Cambodia” and “Expats of Myanmar” saved me. It’s how I found doctors’ offices, found out information about outlet conversions, made friends, really anything I needed help with when traveling.
Facebook and Personal Branding
So, how do you focus on Facebook for personal branding? Glad you asked! Now that we know the potential of Facebook, it’s time to clean up your profile and maximize its networking potential! Grab my checklist below for cleaning and creating your digital footprint.
4. Talk on Twitter
Twitter is an interesting social media platform that has become more about hearing reactions to the news in real time. Because it’s more news-centric, it’s a great way to reach out to career role models and industry influencers
Here’s two really helpful twitter tools.
Twitter is a tricky social media in that it moves very quickly and your content can get lost. Since you probably don’t have time to sit at your computer all day and tweet once an hour, schedule your tweets daily via Buffer. Buffer will tweet them for you based on the best times for traffic. It’s free for up to 10 tweets a day. I use it for both my blog’s Twitter and my personal Twitter. It’s helped me connect with influencers and engagement so much.
Social Quant is a Twitter service that finds ideal followers for you and follows them, while also monitoring if those who are following you back are even engaging. I was hesitant to use a service for my social media, so Social Quant was a risk. But, I couldn’t be happier with the results and can’t recommend it enough. If you sign up below, the first 14 days are free! That alone will get some good momentum and attraction to your sight!
More on cleaning and creating your twitter account in my digital footprint guide below and check out this post on cleaning up your social media!
5. Learn to Love LinkedIn
It is the professional social media network, after all!
I find LinkedIn to be a bit more cumbersome than the other social media platforms. But, what I do like about it is that it’s evergreen. I don’t feel like I need to be posting content all. the. time. Instead, four times a year (when I go through my quarterly goals), I go through and update any new experiences, achievements, etc. that are relevant and then let it sit.
Top 10 LinkedIn errors to avoid. Guess what number one? Not finishing your profile!
If you don’t have a thorough LinkedIn profile set up, invest an afternoon in it. Make sure you have a high-quality photo, updated information about your job, and of course, have it linked to your personal website (I sound like a broken record).
6. Pipe Up and Post!
Make your voice heard online. This is how you can position yourself as an expert on the world wide web. There’s sharing platforms that are super popular and make it possible for anyone to post without having to set up their own blog or become a guest author for a big website. Here are two of my favorites:
Quora is “a place to share knowledge and understand the world”. Put simply, it’s a website of forums where people can post questions and others can post answers. To boost your personal brand on this platform, answer questions related to your elevator pitch, your mission, and your work. When setting up your (free) Quora profile, you can choose some topics that you’re particularly interested. Then, Quora will feed those questions into your dashboard. Answer those if and when you can, link your personal website in your answer, and you’ll start seeing traffic driven to your personal website immediately.
Medium is structured more on posts and articles than forums. But, like Quora, anyone can post on it and can do so in a categorical way. Medium is great there’s so much flexibility regarding what you can do with your post, whether it’s sharing it on social media, sending it others, or getting it seen on Medium. This is also a great approach if you’re wanting to begin blogging but want to dip your toes first.
Turns out you’re ready to start a blog?: How to start a website in 20 minutes
7. Network like No Other
It’s easy to say you’re good at networking, but think about how you’re really networking in your day-to-day life.
For me, what has worked best is setting specific networking goals for myself. I used to try to push myself to send one cold e-mail a month to someone that I would love to connect with. This quarter, my goal is to have coffee with one new person in my industry once a month.
These are goals that I’ve enjoyed, but I encourage you to come up with some for yourself. The best ways to network will vary based on the industry, your location, and your personality.
If you live in a suburban or rural place and work in advertising or marketing, digital networking could be perfect for you. You could encourage yourself to go onto social media platforms daily and try to answer peoples’ questions regarding advertising.
If you live in New York City (woohoo!), you might push yourself to attend a networking mixer once a month.
The important thing is that you’re pushing yourself to network in a way that you can track, even when (especially when) your career is going well. When you’re not looking for what other people can do for you is when the most genuine relationships are formed.
One of my favorite networking approaches, The Art of Active Networking
8. Edit your Email Signature
Your email signature should contain:
- Your personal website
- A photo of you (yes, really)
- Your social media handles
- Any affiliation you have with a club or group that you want to be shared
Make it easy for people to learn more about you when you simply send an e-mail.
9. Personal Website
Last but not least, a personal website is what I think is the absolute essential piece of the personal branding puzzle.
Personal websites are not to be confused with blogs. Typically they have your first and last name as the domain. They are like virtual, 3D resumes of how amazing you are. You can put them everywhere: social media, business cards, e-mail signatures, the list never ends.
When applying for jobs, they’re so important. They’re the difference between an employer seeing your bland resume on their computer with 100 others and having that one click to your personal website and within 30 seconds they see who you are, they see that you’re creative, and they connect with you.
I cannot overstate how powerful of a tool this is.
In fact, it’s entirely because of my personal website that I have the dream job I do now at a non-profit that I love.
For my ultimate checklist with everything you need to create the perfect personal website, sign up below. You’ll also receive the guide on cleaning up social media and the exact way in which my personal website helped me get the job I have now.