3 Steps to Establishing Your Personal Brand

Whether you’ve created it deliberately or simply let it happen, you have a personal brand. Want to take the reins on how others perceive you? Here are three helpful steps.

  1. Define your desired brand

If you could hear yourself described in one sentence, what would you like it to be? Remember, this isn’t about your company, it’s about your unique abilities, approach and attitude.

Spend time with these questions to help define an authentic and compelling platform:

  • What’s a trait or ability you’ve been praised for since you were young?
  • Think of some of your proudest moments. How did you earn them?
  • What’s the “special something” you bring to your role that others don’t?
  • Are there topics you never get tired of discussing? What energizes you?
  • Imagine your ideal role in 5-10 years. Which aspects of you would be amplified?

Feel free to gather input from others who know you well. Your goal is a statement that’s concise enough to share with anyone you meet. Consider it your elevator pitch, ready to sell you at any moment.

  1. Audit your existing brand

Now that you know how you want to be seen, take a look at your current brand, starting with your social media presence. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of employers screen candidates via their social media accounts during the hiring process, and about 43% of employers use social media to keep an eye on current employees.

That’s fair, considering how the lines have blurred between our personal and professional lives. Your actions on social media can be a reflection on any company who hires you.

Take a look at your social media channels. Do you see anything that would make you uncomfortable if you were a prospective employer? Remove or untag any posts that don’t support the personal brand you want to build as your career grows. There’s always the option of making sure your settings are private, but it may be wiser to keep negativity out of your feeds in the first place.

  1. Bring your brand to life

Social media

Remember that social media can be one of your greatest branding tools. That same CareerBuilder study found that 58% of employers conduct screening in the hopes of supporting a candidate’s qualifications. After all, why would they spend effort researching someone they’ve already chosen not to hire? Social media gives you the chance to show your mom and your future boss all the good stuff you’ve been up to lately.

Communication style

Consider how you express yourself verbally and digitally as part of your “brand advertising.” When your boss asks you a question in the hallway, are you confident and knowledgeable? During presentations do you invite others to share their thoughts, and then really listen? Perhaps your funny IMs build team spirit, or maybe your emails tend to include thoughtful questions that help co-workers feel valued. Being conscious of your communication strengths and weaknesses will help you project the best version of yourself.

Personal presentation

Take time to consider your wardrobe as part of your personal brand. Whether you find yourself in a traditional office setting or you rely on video conferencing as part of a dispersed workforce, dress with care from head to toe. You won’t go wrong by remembering the adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Body language

There’s no opportunity too small to build your personal brand. An executive creative director once surprised a copywriter after a company-wide meeting by complimenting her on being a good audience member. If you’ve ever presented to cold, expressionless faces, you’ll know how quickly you can spot the listener whose personal brand includes the word “engaged.” Whether you’re listening or speaking, you have the chance to stand out through alert posture, eye contact, smiles and nods.

You create your own story every day. Once you know who you really want to be, you’re ready to support your brand with your words, your actions and your entire attitude.