10 tips for building your ‘brand’
Personal branding is a relatively new concept but is becoming increasingly important to-conscious individuals. Why? Because how you present yourself professionally is important if you want to take control of your own career instead of simply coasting through it.
Whether you’re currently looking for work or you’re already employed and want to further your career, you need to know how to build a unique, professional and approachable personal brand. Here are some tips for building that brand.
Coordinate your online and offline activities. Match up your online profile claims with who you really are and how you come across when meeting people face to face.
Give your CV a makeover
Although the CV is the key document of one’s personal brand, recruiters and HR directors typically only spend 60 seconds skimming a CV before deciding whether to read it in detail or chuck it in the bin. Cut your CV down to just one page with lots of white space and no irrelevant information. The less you say, the more people will be curious about you. If you’ve already had an extensive career so far, a CV length of two pages is acceptable.
Join LinkedIn groups
Browse and explore the professional networking and special interest groups on LinkedIn. As it’s the world’s largest professional social network, there is a group for almost anything on there. People are specifically on the site to network and to do things that will further their careers so take full advantage of this. Find a group for your specific industry, or specialist area or even for your geographic location perhaps. Try and see which ones you can add value to and can be of value to you.
Use professional headshots
For the sake of a consistent brand, use the same avatar across all your social media profiles. Your avatar should be a photo of yourself, preferably a professional-looking headshot. Having both head and shoulders in the shot is fine, but the closer up your face is in the shot, the more trustworthy you appear.
Your personal appearance is an important part of your brand. Pay attention to your grooming and presentation, especially when you’re going to be attending a face-to-face event. Ask yourself what you want people to think about you and to associate you with when they first see you and what impression you want to give them through your clothing.
Get your brand out there by going to more conferences, seminars and other professional events. Once you’ve established a regular presence at conferences, start hosting breakout sessions and even leading main conference sessions. This leads to much greater visibility.
Join a career development club
Sign up to an online career club, preferably one with a community forum. Not only can you make use of the various members-only tools and resources to help build your brand, you get your brand known by contributing valuable and insightful posts to the forum and creating worthwhile threads yourself.
When networking, remember to ask the people you talk to ‘what can I do for you?’ instead of just reeling off a list of things about yourself. Selling yourself is as much about listening as it is about saying the right things. It’s by listening to what customers want that businesses develop brands that sell well.
Become a storyteller
Storytelling is increasingly being recognised as a big part of branding. Be prepared to tell (truthful) stories to illustrate the value you have to offer and to make yourself memorable. Entertaining stories tend to hold a person’s interest and can be a great tool when out and about and networking and also in an interview or a salary negotiation.
Ask people for comments on your CV, your online profile and how you present yourself. If you go to a job interview and don’t quite land the role, ask the employer why. The more information you have to work with the more you can hone in on what you are doing well and not so well. Use this feedback to continuously improve your brand.
Nisa Chitakasem is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies.