Personal branding is a critical component of any career. No matter what your occupation, it’s important to create a “stamp” of who you are professionally so others can identify you as a prominent thought leader or trusted expert in your industry. Your skills, personality, and values all tie into your personal brand and help others—particularly, employers—know what’s important to you, what you’re good at, and what you’re able to give back.
Many professionals and job seekers have crafted excellent personal brands that have helped them to land a job or simply become successful in their chosen field. Although everyone’s personal brand is different, there are a few things that all successful “branders” do to maintain their identities. The most effective personal branders…
1. Express genuine interest in their profession or industry. Great personal branders know passion is one of the most important aspects to creating a convincing and compelling professional identity. Before you even begin to brand yourself, make sure you’re focusing on something you truly love to do, or risk coming across as insincere.
2. Know the importance of clarity and consistency. Communicating your personal brand clearly and consistently across all outlets ensures your audience knows exactly how you mark yourself. Great personal branders make this a habit so they can clearly demonstrate what they are and aren’t about.
3. Know their values. Another key component of an effective personal brand is identifying and communicating your values. Great personal branders have already asked themselves, “What is it that’s truly important to me?” Maybe you value environmentalism, empathy, honesty, innovation, individuality, boldness, or volunteering. Those with great brands know their personal values provide the foundation upon which their entire brand can be built.
4. Identify their audience. Knowing what your audience wants from you is important to maintaining a relevant professional presence. For instance, a professional who’s branded themselves as an expert on the economy might confuse their audience if they suddenly start sending out tweets about pop culture. The best branders identify what their audience wants from them and delivers consistent, timely, and relevant information to meet those expectations.
5. Position themselves as experts. You can’t create a great personal brand without being dedicated to learning all there is to know about your industry, and then demonstrating that knowledge. You can do this in a number of ways, like keeping a blog or creating and sharing email newsletters. No matter which outlet they choose, the best branders always work to deliver reliable and compelling information to keep their audience engaged.
6. Keep their online presence up-to-date. Great branders know anyone can be Googling them at any time, and they know the Internet is usually the best resource for anyone who wants to know more about them and their career. Keeping social media profiles, blogs, and websites clean and updated with the latest information is a key way to ensure others can access and understand what you’re all about.
7. Keep learning. Continuing to learn and grow is crucial to ensure your brand never falls short of expectations. The best personal branders stay on top of learning and developing their skills—and that doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school. Great branders simply seize every opportunity to try new things and advance themselves professionally and personally.
Following these seven habits of effective personal branders can mean the difference between showcasing yourself as a competent and valuable employee versus someone who places no importance on their personal values and professional goals. Take these tips with you as you craft your personal brand, and others will pick up on your commitment to professional success.
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.