5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

By BrainStation September 25, 2015

Coffee and macbook

How do you set yourself apart? With job markets becoming increasingly competitive, it takes more than having a College or University degree on your resume. What once functioned as a stamp of hireability is now becoming more and more obsolete – what really matters is having hands-on experience ‘doing’ versus ‘studying’. Company culture has also become a priority for employers when building out their businesses, therefore personality and interests are becoming important aspects to look for in job applicants. So, how do you make yourself stand out from a pile of resumes? Start by building and marketing your personal brand.

1. Do an audit of your social media presence

Social media is arguably the most effective way to showcase and build your personal brand. The first step is to decide what platforms you want to focus on. It’s better to put energy into building a few, really strong accounts than to spread yourself thin across many for the sake of having a presence. For example – if you’re more of a visual person, perhaps Twitter isn’t for you – skipping out on Twitter isn’t the be-all-end-all of building your presence, rather it prevents people from searching your profile, only to find you haven’t tweeted in 2 years and have 23 followers.

That said, if you plan on being involved with other brands, for example freelance blogging, it doesn’t hurt to have a handle so that people can tag you when sharing your content. But, if you’re going to do that, I suggest noting in your Twitter bio that this is not your most active platform (feel free to get cheeky), and use it as an opportunity to lead people to your well-developed account, such as Instagram, Pinterest, your YouTube channel or blog.

Next, build a content calendar. What kind of content do you want to share? How often do you want to tweet, pin or Insta? Are you a blogger or vlogger? What content do you have scheduled for the next month? If you’re creating content, how do you plan on getting it exposure?

For example:

  • Write a blog post or create a video blog
  • Promote on social media channels of choice, using strategic hashtags and tagging influencers when applicable i.e. If you’re doing a blog post on your favourite tech companies of 2015, tag them to encourage RTs and favourites
  • Post it on LinkedIn and add it to your profile as ‘published materials’

Note: This likely isn’t your full-time job, so treat this as a rough guideline for yourself. Unless you, like me, love creating spreadsheets.

2. Take a moment to determine your ‘Ideal Self’

What does success look like to you? Is it increasing your followers, building your portfolio, scoring freelance gigs or a new job?

Whatever you decide, take a moment and do the following exercise:

  • Take a piece of paper and pen
  • In the centre of the page, write ‘me’ and circle (don’t worry, it gets more interesting)
  • Create a tree diagram to get a high-level look at your interests – do you embody a healthy lifestyle? Are you an avid baseball fan? Love fashion? Sing? Dance? Code? Design? Love photography? Write it all down. From here, look at each of the components of your life and determine how you can promote them through your digital presence
  • Create a high-level content strategy based on your findings – what is it you want to share? Is it thought leadership pieces on Twitter? Food photography on Instagram? Mood boards on Pinterest? Your freshly coded website? If you want to take it one step further, hash out a schedule to ensure you hit every aspect of your ‘Ideal Self’ – foodie content on Sundays, fashion content on Wednesdays, etc.
  • Invest in tools such as VSCO Cam or Photoshop Express for Instagram, download the Pinterest app for easy pinning across the web, and get unfollowers.me for Twitter for strategic following and unfollowing. When building your digital presence, it is imperative to put emphasis on sharing high-quality content.

3. Look to others for inspiration

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Do a frequent social media audit of influencers who inspire you. What kind of content are they posting? How often? What hashtags do they use, if any? Go one step further and do some ‘piggy-back’ following; go through their latest followers, whether it be on Instagram or Twitter, and give them a follow – chances are those followers will be interested in what you have to offer. You can also use tools like Crowdfire.

Look at those who have successfully built their online presence; there are a few marks of success worth noting:

  • Consistent growth in following
  • Engaged followers
  • High-quality content
  • Collaborations with high-profile people and/or brands
  • Intense attention to detail; beautiful photos, formatting, thoughtful, well-edited text

This is who you should aspire to be. Even if they have 100K followers more than you have, you have to start somewhere, and having a reference point of where you’d like to be in x time will help fuel your growth.

Remember – this is about taking inspiration, not flat out copying. You need to take the idea and make it your own. There are so many accounts out there offering the same experience – what was once considered thought leadership (posting images of quotes, for example) no longer has the same impact since the masses have hopped on the bandwagon.

4. Optimize your LinkedIn platform

LinkedIn is the #1 social media platform that helps define and project your professional brand. This is where you list experiences that have built your character and showcase your strengths. It also has great SEO value; an optimized LinkedIn profile will achieve high google search rankings.

Here are some steps you can take to optimize your profile:

  • Choose a headshot that is hi-res and projects friendliness, confidence and approachability
  • Don’t just list your title – give people a short yet comprehensive rundown on what the role entails
  • Connect your other active social media channels
  • Mention published work, whether it be as a blog contributor or LinkedIn post
  • Showcase colleague recommendations – just like word of mouth marketing, third party quotes focusing on your workplace contribution offer a dynamic look at your professional brand. Reach out to a colleague and share your own testimonial to encourage reciprocation

5. Blog – personally or professionally

Blog posts are the golden ticket to building your personal brand. Think of this as your ‘product’ that you then have to market to the public (through social media, for example).

Blog posts do 5 things:

  • Showcase your knowledge and writing skills, thereby positioning you as a thought leader
  • Encourage sharing (note: Be sure to incorporate ‘share’ buttons on anything you post if you’re using a platform like WordPress or Squarespace)
  • Serves as content help further develop your personal brand
  • High quality posts open up opportunities for guest blogging and freelancing, further increasing your exposure (and likely getting paid to do it!)
  • The research involved in writing posts keeps you in the loop of what’s happening and current in the topic of choice

So whether you’re writing for your company’s blog or documenting your own personal experiences, it’s a great tool to help build your digital footprint. If you have or plan on creating a personal blog, be sure to post consistently and to put time and effort into each post; don’t just post content for the sake of having content. You want every post to showcase exciting ideas that make people think and get them inspired.

Make your mark!

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Trilby is the Marketing Manager at BrainStation.