Building and maintaining my personal brand is an important part of my job. But it’s becoming important in so many professions, way beyond the realms of influencers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. Whether you’re an architect, entrepreneur, designer, blogger, lawyer, or whatever, your personal brand can help you stand out from the crowd and attract exciting new opportunities your way.
If you think about it, you already have a personal brand. Everyone has one. If a potential employer or client were to Google your name, they’d probably find your LinkedIn and social media profiles, perhaps followed by any news articles featuring your name or any other websites that mention you. What impression would someone get of you based on the search results? This, essentially, is your personal brand. It’s your online reputation.
Personal branding means taking control of your online reputation and shaping it, so people see you in the way you want to be seen.
So, if you search for my name online, you'll see my own website, then my latest tweets, my LinkedIn profile, my YouTube channel, and then my other social media profiles. Even just a quick glance at these results is enough to tell you I'm an expert in future technologies, digital transformation, and driving business performance. You'll see the same (professional) photos of me and read the same voice (mine). All of that contributes to my brand. It's consistent. It tells a story about who I am and what I do.
Of course, social media isn’t the only way to establish your brand, but it does play a huge role. Here are 12 ways you can use social media to your advantage and sharpen your personal brand.
1. First things first, get your profiles in order. Add a professional, up-to-date photo to your social media profiles, using the same photo across different platforms to ensure consistency. Then clean up your profiles by deleting any content that you wouldn’t want potential employers or clients to see. (You can always maintain a private profile for sharing personal things that you don’t want employers or clients to see.)
2. Be yourself. While you want to cultivate a professional brand, it’s important to let your personality shine through in your social media posts. Write in the way you’d normally speak. Be authentic. Be honest. Talk about things that really matter to you (rather than trying to hop on the latest trends). And don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. This is all part of ensuring your brand stays consistent.
3. Share what you're learning. Something that I've found impactful – and easy – is sharing interesting and relevant news stories from my industry on social media. This really helped me build my profile and stay knowledgeable on what's happening in my field. To keep up to date with interesting and relevant news stories, you can subscribe to industry newsletters or, even easier, set up Google alerts for certain keyword topics. Do be sure to add your own message when you share something on social media – even if it's just "I came across this today and thought I'd share it. What do you guys think?"
4. Join industry groups on social media platforms. Then make yourself known by engaging with posts, answering questions, and liking, commenting, and sharing other people's content in the group.
5. Be generous with your time and knowledge. Be helpful to others online by responding to questions and comments and generally engaging with them. And do take the time to like or amplify other content that you found engaging, inspiring, or useful. Basically, be reciprocal.
6. Make new contacts as often as you can, especially on LinkedIn. You can do this by identifying people you want to connect with in your field and sending a certain number of invites each week, with a short personal message. Make a habit of this, and your network will soon grow.
7. Create quick polls to pose interesting questions and boost engagement. You can always mix it up by posting a mixture of professional and more general questions.
8. Post quality photos and videos from your work life. People love visual content, so if you're at a work conference, attending an industry event, on the way to visit a client, or whatever, share it. You can mix it up with occasional "everyday" photos and videos while still keeping it fairly professional (think your morning cup of coffee when you're working from home, that sort of thing).
9. Really, you can post any sort of content that will help to cement your reputation – it could be advice, thought-provoking questions, excerpts from presentations you’ve given, pro tips, how-to content, or whatever.
10. If you really want to establish your expertise, consider writing longer-form articles and sharing them on LinkedIn. I did a lot of this – still do, in fact – and it has played a huge role in growing my personal brand.
11. Use cross-platform tools to make your life easier. For example, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance and share posts across multiple platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube, all from one place. This means you can get maximum value from each piece of content without having to physically post it in multiple places.
12. Try penciling in a specific time each day or week for social media. You may actively want to limit the amount of time you spend on social media (it can be a huge time suck). So, I find it helps to schedule posts in advance and block out specific times to check in with social media, reply to comments, and see other people's posts.