Personal branding is also known as your career or professional brand. It is the way you present yourself to your colleagues and your online and offline networks.
With the growth of LinkedIn, blogging, social networking, and search engines, it’s important that you portray your brand in a positive professional light. Just as a company differentiates itself by identifying and articulating its unique value proposition, you should do the same.
There are 10 key steps to help you develop and control your personal brand:
1. Check the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to find your name and its variations.
What are search engines saying about you? Is there someone else in the world who shares your name? Is your identity correct online? If there are variations of your name, have you searched those names? The first place to start with your personal brand, especially online, is to find out what is being said about you and what information comes up first in searches for your name.
2. Clean up your Web presence.
Are you looking to do some “spring cleaning” because you don’t like what you see? You might want erase some of yourself from the Internet
by using a tool such as justdelete.me
. This website ranks the process of erasing yourself from easy to impossible. Social networks such as Twitter are easy to delete, whereas others, such as Pinterest, are impossible.
3. Create your online reputation with free tools.
Create your own personal website that lists all your social networks with a free tool like about.me
. Or use brandyourself.com
, which will give you a letter grade relating how your name ranks in search results. [Read: 10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputation]
4. Claim your social media profiles and your personalized URL on LinkedIn.
Have you protected yourself from cyber-squatters on your social media profiles? To ensure you secure your desired username or vanity site first, visit namechk.com
to see whether it is available. You should also secure your personalized URL on LinkedIn
. It may worth creating a Google+ account
to ensure that you appear on the right-hand column of search results. You might want to create a Twitter account
to share helpful information with others. I found that my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts show up near the top of my search results, because I share a lot of articles through these networks.
5. Buy your own domain name (even if you are not using it yet).
Do you own the URL of your name? If not, you should secure it at a website registrar like godaddy.com
. You may want to read 3 reasons why buying a domain name for your child is a good idea
. By owning your own domain name, you can be sure that if you use that URL, you will rank high in search results. If you don’t own your name, you are leaving your online reputation in the hands of the unknown. Owning your domain name costs around $10 to $15 a year. [Read: Why you need a domain strategy]
6. Set up an ongoing monitoring alert system.
It is important to monitor what is said about you online. Set up Google Alerts
or Talkwalker Alerts
, a free alternative to Google Alerts. When you create the alerts, make sure you put your name with and without quotation marks. You should also include variations of your name.
7. Launch a blog to publish content and show your perspectives.
When you start a blog, remember that the Internet is like a copy machine. Think before you publish. If you get angry or emotional reacting to something you see online or if someone else is provoking you, you might email it to yourself first and ask yourself: Would my parents, friends, or colleagues like to read this post?
A blog is a great way to demonstrate your personal brand. It helps you position yourself as you want to be seen. A blog helps you expand your network beyond your work colleagues, positions you as a thought leader at your company, demonstrates your expertise on a topic or several topics, and shows that you can write and communicate (skills that a current and potential future employer will value).
8. Get to know yourself, and share helpful content on a regular basis.
What do you want others to think of you as online? What types of articles do you share with others? Are they personal growth articles, leadership articles, career articles? What do you want to be known for? Your personal brand reflects who you are. It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses and to do what you love. If you can’t blog, do you share useful tips to your colleagues about the industry you work in or how to do PR or marketing better? By learning who are you and what you are good at, you can better take control of your personal brand.
9. Create your elevator pitch and key messages.
Do you have your elevator pitch created and validated? What are your core or key messages? Hone your elevator pitch in your LinkedIn summary section or your blog’s bio page. That paragraph or two should sum up your personal brand in a concise and compelling way.
10. Develop a feedback loop with those you trust, and evolve your personal brand.
Just as company brands change over time, your personal brand is constantly evolving. As you gain work and life experiences, your brand changes to reflect who you are at work and in life. Build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues and others you trust, so they can help you polish and refine your personal brand.
As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Do you know people are saying about your personal brand online and off? Are you taking steps to build, polish, and refine it? The key is to remember that your personal brand is more than just your job; it is your career. It is the brand called you
What helpful tips would you add to this list?
A version of this story originally appeared on the author's blog.