Personal branding is incredibly important these days. If you’re not marketing yourself and your career as part of your brand, you should be. Your personal image is critical to your business because customers and potential customers want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Expanding your personal brand can help you connect on a deeper level with your audience and give them those three things.
You may assume if you haven’t worked on your personal brand in the past that you don’t have one. But with social media and the internet, people are talking about you and it’s better to be involved in the conversation to help shape it than it going on without you knowing it.
But what do you do if your personal brand is just other people talking and what if it’s something you don’t care for or doesn’t accurately reflect you and your business? Or what if you want to modify your personal brand? Maybe you want to become known in a different area or you want to rebrand from a very serious person to one with a lighter side.
Personal brands are fluid. They can be changed. If you feel like it’s time to change yours, you can follow these tips.
Find out what your personal brand really is. Don’t think that because one person left you a negative review that the review is your personal brand. Make it a point to check the search results periodically to know what others are saying. In between those times, set a Google alert on search terms such as your name and its variations as well as the name of your business. The alert can be customized for how often you want it to be delivered.
Understand You Are Always On
Before you begin trying to rebrand yourself, keep in mind you are always on. This means that if you have a personal brand, everything you do reflects upon it potentially. This takes some getting acclimated to. But you must do it because if you’re working on your personal brand, you need to start thinking about yourself as a spokesperson. That means things you complain about and endorse are being registered by your audience.
That’s good when you’re becoming an industry influencer and people want you to try out their product or service. But it can be bad when you’re out dining at a restaurant with your family and you tweet out about the bad service there without thinking. What you view as your personal opinion can now be seen as a professional slight when you are your brand.
At the very least adjust your privacy settings on your personal social media profiles. But better yet save your rants for time with friends.
Promote the New Work You’re Doing
If you want to change your personal brand, you’re going to have to treat it like a rebranding of your company. Announce it. Create a campaign around it. Adopt something you want to be known for and communicate it all the time. Promote interests that are similar to your own so you become associated with those types of things. Use different kinds of media to get in front of your different audiences. Pursue any necessary certifications. Finally, make it real by adding something to your business cards such as a “specializing in” or add the job position you want to hold, like keynote speaker. That way when you start breaking into the new area, you already have the cards to prove you belong.
Reach out to People Who Are Already There
Get to know people who are already known for what you want to be known for or get to know business professionals who have done what you want to do like make a career shift. Your chamber of commerce is an excellent space in which to find people like that. Ask your chamber staff who they know that is a personal branding expert and study how they put themselves forward. You can learn a lot by watching others.
It’s time to stop ignoring your personal brand. It’s out there even if you’re not working on it.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.