Everyone knows the importance of good branding when it comes to a product or service, but what about the importance of building a brand for yourself – establishing your public persona and communicating your core values and everything you aspire to be? When it comes down to it, one can argue that each of these are equally critical in building a successful life. Your personal brand refers to how you promote yourself. It is the expertise, experience and personality that you want everyone else to see about you.Regardless of your age or career stage, someone is always screening you online. And what they find can have major implications for your future. In this blog, we will discuss some of the critical steps that need to be taken in an effort to build an established brand for yourself.

1. Define Who You Are – Create Your Story

For starters, perhaps the most crucial step in establishing your personal brand is to define who you are and what you stand for. Although it may seem straight-forward, defining who you are can be a complex process. In order to be successful in this step, you will have to be as introspective as possible i.e. define clear strengths and weaknesses, and ask yourself questions such as what motivates you and which areas of work do you thrive in? If you are having trouble with this step, asking friends, family, and co-workers how they would describe you can also provide some valuable insight!

Next up, it is incredibly important to create a story around your brand that your audience can engage with, rather than just stating the facts. In this Forbes article, Allen Gannett, chief strategy officer at Skyword and author of The Creative Curve explains it best: “The most effective personal branding strategy these days is to build a true narrative – single character monologues are boring in Tinseltown, and even more boring for your personal brand.” By telling your story, you are letting people into a side of you that maybe your resume or your social media platforms do not openly share with your audience. Success can spring not just from who you know and what you know, but also from who knows you and your story.

2. Determine What Makes You Unique

Plenty of people possess great qualities such as being hard workers, being detail-oriented and being strong communicators. When defining what makes YOU you, one helpful step is to determine your unique value proposition. Instead of listing out your skills, think about specific instances where your hard work or people skills paid off. You can ask yourself what was it that made you accomplish what you did instead of others with similar skills? For more helpful tips on discovering your unique value proposition, check out this article on Career Contessa that highlights 10 steps to defining a unique personal brand.

3. Identify Your Audience

Many people make the mistake of trying to appeal to a mass audience. After following steps 1 & 2, your next focus should be defining your niche and deciding how you will accurately target your audience instead. For example, you can start by exploring a broad category that interests you, such as sales, marketing or finance and then narrowing it down to a more specific industry or area of expertise.

While it’s tempting to try and speak to the masses, engaging with a more targeted audience is more beneficial, as conversations are more meaningful and more likely to have an impact. By evaluating what your genuine passions, interests and skills are, you are taking a step in the right direction. Finding a market that encompasses who you are will provide you with the opportunity to be the best at what you do in your space. Be bold and have clear intentions!

4. Optimize Your Personal Website and Social Media Platforms

As the trend of entrepreneurs and freelancers continues to rise, and the internet and social media platforms become the focal point for everything, there has never been a more important time to define your online presence. Remember, if content is the fuel for your personal brand, social media is the engine.

First things first: optimize your personal website. There are many free website builders out there, such as wordpress or squarespace that are very user-friendly and can play a huge role in the success of your online presence. On your website, be sure to include an “about” page, links to your social media accounts, past experiences/accomplishments and a clear call to action.

Next, be sure to update all additional platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) with relevant content that showcase not only your skills, but your genuine personality. Sharing consistently will help draw others to you and your brand, but be sure to have the same voice across all platforms. Along with sharing consistently, taking a proactive approach to engaging with your social media community and those in your industry is a key tool that can aid in the expansion of your network, both personal and professional.

And in conclusion…

Even Oprah Winfrey began shifting several performance styles on a small local show before defining her voice into one of the most influential personal brands in the world, so if the process takes a bit longer than expected, remind yourself that the payoff will make it all worth it. Whether you are looking to generate business, get a new job or launch your own company, creating a strong personal brand will assist you in getting there. Happy personal branding!