In the past couple of decades, technology and social media have transformed the way we begin our careers and network with potential employers. These days, almost everything is done online, and so the question is: How does one stay competitive in an unpredictable job market? Well, many have turned to a strategy called "personal branding." In general, the term "branding" is often associated with companies who develop a very specific and targeted message that they want their customers to recognize. Personal branding, on the other hand, adopts this same idea and applies it to one's own work experiences, skills and intentions for his or her desired career trajectory. According to Shama Hyder from Forbes, the benefits of personal branding are great because, "A strong personal brand can yield tremendous ROI whether you are working with an organization or leading one." So, who needs a personal brand? Well, the short answer is: everyone! Interestingly, most people have some sort of personal brand already established through his or her online presence. Here are a few tips to cultivate, shape and maintain your personal brand online so that future employers will know exactly who you are and the value that you can bring to their organization.
*Reflect on Personal Values to Help You Develop Your Brand
One of the most important things to do when creating your personal brand is check in with yourself. Reflecting on who you are and how you want others to see you is extremely beneficial. Therefore, establish a clear vision of the values and passions that best represent you. This vision is what you want to always come back to when building up your personal brand. In addition, many people purchase a personal website domain or use a LinkedIn account to represent the credibility of his or her brand.
*Maintain Your Personal Brand, and Be Consistent
Always remember that you are the CEO of your personal brand. You are responsible for and accountable to anything that you may say or write on behalf of your brand. So, if you have social media accounts that are not necessarily associated with your personal brand, be careful in those contexts. For example, be weary of comments or posting anything you might regret later. What you say in the social media world could come back to haunt you later on. Another helpful tip is to conduct frequent audits of how you appear online when you search for yourself. This is extremely telling of whether or not your personal brand is actually working and whether or not you need to tweak it.
*Your Personal Brand Will Always Be a Work in Progress
As we grow in our lives and our careers, so does our personal branding. Although consistency is definitely necessary for maintaining your personal brand, how you evolve and adapt to change is just as important. So, your personal branding will always be a work in progress because as changes in your life occur, you will update the necessary aspects of your personal brand accordingly. Also, make sure you are always intentional when building your personal brand. Shama Hyder from Forbes states, "A strong personal brand is dependent on your strong narrative. In other words, what's your story?" Do not be afraid to tell your story and share it with the world. You never know who is listening or reading. Having a compelling narrative within your personal brand is what invites others to get to know you and truly feel engaged in who you are and what you stand for.
Overall, the world we live in has made personal branding even more significant than before. Previously, a résumé or outstanding interview used to be the way to "sell yourself" to employers. Now, the dynamics and process have changed quite a bit with online platforms such as LinkedIn. These days, employers have the ability to research who you are before they even pick up the phone to set up an interview. Therefore, staying up-to-date with your personal brand is a career move you definitely want to make and keep working on as you continue to climb the ladder.