How to build your personal brand—from A to Z

This guide can help you master the fundamentals of cultivating your reputation and the face you show the world, both in person and online.

This article originally ran on PR Daily in July of 2017.

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not around.

It is how the world sees you, your reputation, who you are, what you value and your unique perspective on the world. In today’s digital age, personal branding is not optional.

A powerful personal brand can steer your online identity and influence the perception other people have about you. It can help you earn a promotion, a new job, a new client, or a new speaking opportunity.

By establishing yourself as an expert on certain topics, you can become a “go-to” source of information. Creating your successful personal brand will require time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Follow this A to Z guide:

Accountability

No one should manage your personal brand but you. We are all chief executive officers (CEOs) of our own companies; your job is to be chief marketing officer (CMO) of the brand known as You.

Balance

It’s important today to distinguish between your personal and professional brands by understanding your audience. One easy way to balance personal and professional personae is through your bio. For example, your bio on LinkedIn will be different from your Facebook profile. Most likely, some followers will investigate all your social media accounts, so you must decide whom you “let in” to your social networks by accepting or ignoring their connection requests. You must balance your personal and professional brands so your digital body language conveys what you want others to know.

Content

It is important to create compelling, entertaining and helpful content through your blog and/or by submitting content as a guest contributor to other publications orblogs. By providing a consistent amount of content over time, you will earn a reputation as an expert on your subject area.

Delete

Think of the Internet as a copy machine. It is easy to replicate but tough to delete. For example, social media platforms such as Twitter are easy to delete, whereas others (such as Pinterest) are impossible. If you don’t like what you see online, try using tools such as justdelete.me.

Elevator Pitch

If you were in the elevator with a potential employer or the CEO of your company, could you tell that person who you are in 30 seconds or less? That is your elevator pitch. Develop yours, and practice it until it’s second nature.

Fad

Is personal branding a fad? Nope. Look at the growth of the words “personal brand” in Google Trends from 2004 to the present. In a survey of hiring managers, favored. To beat your competition and find that dream job, you need a strong personal brand. Your company should help your build one; if not, think about leaving that company for that one that will. According to Fast Company, personal branding is essential to career success.

Generous

Gratitude and generosity make people remember you. Being noticed is vital in building your personal brand. Generosity builds positive feelings for you, opening the door to new opportunities and experiences.

Habit

A habit, good or bad, is something you don’t think about doing. Cultivate good habits like exercise, helping others, being proactive and developing leadership skills. Learn the 10 habits for building a personal brand.

Identity

Your personal brand helps you define and communicate who you are through several key components: who you are, what you do, why you do it, your tagline.

Job

Your brand will tell employers why you are a good fit for their company and how you can help them reach their business objectives. Your personal brand must shine in your résumé, your cover letter and your online presence, such as your LinkedIn profile or your personal website. Your personal brand is essential for getting a job.

K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple, stupid. If you understand a topic, you know how to explain it simply. People who have strong personal brands can communicate complex topics in simple terms. Learn the 10 ways to use the K.I.S.S. principle to simplify your life.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn demonstrates what you are all about, and it shows others what your colleagues think about you in a professional way (via recommendations and endorsements). Learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile in 10 steps.

Manage

Your personal brand is changing daily, so manage it just as a company manages its brand. Keep tabs on it. Do the tough work up front, such as crafting your elevator pitch and updating your LinkedIn profile, so you can reap future rewards.

Name

A person’s name is powerful, yet it’s one of the most unexploited tools in personal branding. If your name is common, it is more difficult to brand yourself, so you may want to use your middle name (think Samuel L. Jackson, Michael J. Fox, Stephen A. Smith) or your professional career (think @prsarahevans).

Objectives

As part of personal branding 101, the overall goal is to differentiate yourself in the marketplace so you can attain your objectives. What are your goals? Define those so you can better distinguish yourself from the pack. To be hired, you must first be found.

Proactive

The more proactive you are in managing your personal brand, the more control you have over your career. Launch a blog, update your LinkedIn profile, create your bio, build your network, get a new headshot, update your personal website, or learn new skills.

Quarterly

Check in on your personal brand and online identity, at least once every three months. It could be as simple as emailing your network. Build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues and others you trust to help you polish and refine your personal brand.

Reputation

Do you Google yourself and find that another person with your same name pops on the screen? If your answer to that question is “yes,” you should monitor and be proactive about your personal brand and online presence.

Storytelling

A pillar of good marketing, storytelling helps to make your personal brand shine, grab the attention of your audience, expand your network and build relationships. Remember, you are the CEO and CMO of your brand. Your storytelling abilities set its foundation and provide a strategy for growth. Learn how to define your personal brand using storytelling.

Tools

There are many apps, websites and tools that you can use to help you build your personal brand. Here are 10 free tools to help you develop your personal brand.

Unicorn

A unicorn is a mythical creature, a horse with a single horn on its forehead. A human “unicorn” has specific skills and can jump in, with minimal training, and work magic. To differentiate yourself, market yourself as a rare entity who delivers extraordinary value.

Value

What talents, skills and connections do you offer to add value to an individual, employer or organization? For example, are you asking the right questions during a discussion at work? Are you helping someone improve their LinkedIn profile? Are you helping someone find a job by using your network? Are you proofreading someone’s résumé?

Warmth

With your personal brand, don’t emphasize competence to the point of appearing cold. To exert influence, balance competence with warmth.

Xenagogy

Xenagogy is a guidebook about personal branding.

You

Opportunities will find you when you have a strong personal brand—your values, abilities, skills, network and actions. What overall impression of you do you want people to have? Create your personal brand statement to craft that impression.

Zig-zag

To differentiate yourself, do the exact opposite of everyone else. (If they zig, you zag.) Learn the zig-zag method for catching attention and building credibility.

Matthew Royse is the regional marketing director for Freudenberg IT, a global IT solutions provider. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog, Knowledge Enthusiast.

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