The concept of ‘personal branding’ has gained momentum over the past few and become somewhat of a buzzword for modern professionals.

But what is a personal brand? In brief, it’s how people see you. We all know high profile individuals with a personal brand. Think Oprah Winfrey, U2’s Bono and various public figures and politicians. They have all established an identity in the public realm — their personal brand — that enables others to have a level of understanding about the type of person they are.

Looking beyond the hype, personal branding is an important consideration within the professional context. The pervasiveness of the internet and the flourish of social networking sites have made it almost essential for any professional with a presence on the internet and networking sites to mould and manage their personal brand.

Why is personal brand important?

Whether we are aware of it or not, all of our activities online — on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn — form an online personal profile that is searchable. And today, more and more employers are using the internet to conduct employment background searches and gauge an idea of the character and interests of their potential employees.

Actively creating a personal brand and a representation of yourself online allows you to have a say in how you market yourself and gives you control in crafting an accurate picture of your identity, rather than that happening purely by default. While social networking sites are predominately about engaging in a social environment, it’s wise to view them — and be aware of them — as platforms on which you can build your personal brand.

How do I build my personal brand?

Because you will ‘live and breathe’ your personal brand, it’s essential that your brand is genuine and a accurate depiction of who you are. Here are some tips

  • Work out what you’re passionate about

Your personal brand must suit and reflect your likes and interests. What is it that you want to do, and what attributes and qualities express your passion? If you want to be a professional speaker, market yourself as someone with public speaking skills and ambition in your field of expertise.

Create profiles that reflect your passions on social networking platforms. Maximising your LinkedIn profile to reflect your interests, skills and ambitions is essential. If you are active on Facebook and Twitter, make sure your profile and the information you share on those platforms is consistent with the overarching tone and message of your personal brand.

  • Make a plan for yourself

How will you use your personal brand? Just as any commercial or corporate brand has plans, goals and targets, you should create a development path for yourself that leverages and buoys your personal brand. Start making contacts, decisions and planning career moves that are in line with your brand.

Thinking about your personal brand is particularly important if you are seeking a pay rise, or are considering changing jobs or careers. By creating and shaping your personal brand, you can gain a clearer idea of what you want to achieve, how you need to be perceived to get it, and how you can market the necessary attributes to the relevant audiences.

Find out how to get ahead in your career without a promotion or through developing these five daily habits

Summary

To build your personal brand, you need to

  • Know what you’re passionate about
  • Establish and manage a presence on social networks
  • Make a plan for yourself
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