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You are a brand! Tell your story right in 5 steps!

For a very long time the word "brand" was only used in the context of companies. The goal of branding: create an image that identifies a product and distinguishes it from competitors. Over time, people associate this image with a level of quality, value and satisfaction. Once this image is manifested in people's minds, it is hard to change. Therefore companies put millions in ads and creative agencies to build or change their image.

With the birth of social media and professional social networks like LinkedIn, we all became human brands! Even not being active on certain platforms tells something about you! Today we have an endless number of possibilities to build, strengthen or recreate our personal image. The question is not whether you want to be a brand, but whether you want to shape it yourself or let others do that for you!

I asked some of my friends who do a great job branding themselves skillfully, what the biggest benefit of their personal brand was:

"I started building my personal brand online with the help of LinkedIn, Facebook and my blog long before I became an independent leadership coach. Interviewing other coaches on my blog, posting pictures and summaries of conferences I went to and writing own articles on leadership, showed my network that I'm an expert although I don't have a lot of work experience in that field - this definitely helped me to prepare the ground and find clients."

"I'm working as an account manager at a tech company that offers project management software. Since I'm very curious about the fashion industry, I post and write regularly about the latest tech trends in that industry on Twitter and LinkedIn. Soon my client portfolio had more and more fashion companies - my boss sensed that my knowledge in that industry is of big value and assigned new clients coming from the fashion industry directly to me."

These examples show that a personal brand is not build over night. But when you are ready to invest some time in these steps, your career will benefit from it in ways you probably can't even imagine now!

1. Personal Branding Pitch

After this step you will already have the biggest chunk of work done! Concise and to the point a personal branding statement shows who you are and what you have to offer. It communicates the essence of the person behind the name and can be included in the summary section of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. The following questions can help you to phrase it:

  • What are you passionate about and could spend hours on? What are your career goals? How do you want to make a difference? 
  • What differentiates you from your peers? What is your secret sauce - your unique skill set? 
  • What are your superpowers that have benefitted your employers or clients? What do others say that you do exceptionally well? 
  • Think about the most important work-related projects that you successfully completed - how did you master it? This question helps you to uncover your working styles!

Did you collaborate with others?

Did you have to be resourceful?

Did you have to take risks?

Did you have to be creative and come up with new solutions?

Did you have to use your network?

Identify 3 attributes that are common to the way you completed the projects

2. Audit

You know how your brand looks and feels like! Now it's time for an audit! Google your name and see what comes up. If you have a very common name, consider using your middle initial or middle name. If you are active on your chosen branding platforms, you should however appear at the top. Using a consistent profile picture helps, too.

3. Personal website

Having a personal website is not only one of the best ways to rank for your name on google, it also looks professional in your email signature and on your social media profile. It doesn’t need to be content rich. A simple site with your resume, link to social platforms, and a short bio is enough. Over time you can add a blog or a twitter feed for example. You can also add some lines about your personal life - it gives people something to connect with instantly.

4. Add (focused) value

Many people make the mistake to just post and repost everything they find interesting. If you want to establish yourself as an expert in the world of work though you should be more picky about the things you post. Be consistent in your chosen fields of interest. Also, think about the value you can provide to readers. A list of the latest HR startups? An interview with a leading leadership coach in a magazine? This is the type of content that not only shows your expertise but also is of interest to your (potential) followers.

Very important: Never just repost things - add a personal statement! Give your content a character.

5. Influencer!

Have you ever though about writing for an online magazine? Every industry or field of work has its own playing field! Being a contributing author can add a lot of value to your brand.

Search for the influential bloggers in your chosen field and build relationships with them (reposting their articles, interact on Twitter, meet them at events etc.). This way you are not only expanding your network but also might be writing a guest article on their blog and by doing so reaching a completely new audience!

These are the steps that will help you to build your personal brand. It takes consistency and ongoing "construction" to keep the brand alive. Once you set up the basics though, the brand will work for you and open new doors! Don't let others write your personal story for you!

Last but not least - you can take a look at strong personal brands like Tim Ferris, Richard Branson and Meryl Streep for inspiration. But you don't actually need to. If you are reading this, you are a strong personal brand - whose story just needs to be told right and in a unique way!

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