The utility of a personal brand is universal. A strong personal brand can help you find a new job by publicizing your skills and experience and connecting you to potential employers. It can help you find new clients and partners for your business, and can even serve as an extension of your corporate brand for syndicating content and building a social media audience.
Personal brand building doesn’t happen automatically, however. You’ll need to build a strong foundation and commit yourself to refining your approach over a series of months and years.
But what exactly do you need to get started?
Before you get started with a personal branding strategy for any application, you’ll need at least the following foundational requirements:
- A professional headshot. First things first—you need to make a good impression with your new contacts, so you’ll want a professional headshot to help you do it. TYME offers a number of suggestions for finding your best angle and getting the right hairstyle, but no matter how good you look, you’ll still want to hire a professional photographer to land the right image. It may cost you a few hundred dollars up front, but you’ll be able to use your headshots for a number of different applications, including marking your author profiles and anchoring your social media accounts.
- Social media profiles on all major platforms. Speaking of social media, you’ll need to make sure all your social media profiles are claimed and updated, as Hubspot suggests. At the very least, you should have a professional Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, and an Instagram. You may choose to add other platforms based on your niche and personal preferences. Update these profiles with your new headshot, and be sure the descriptions are both professional and accurate. If you’ve used these accounts in the past, it may be a good idea to scan for any past posts that could be seen as unprofessional or those that otherwise may undermine your reputation.
- An introductory network. Once you have your social profiles updated, it’s time to start building your network. If you already have a few hundred friends, family members, coworkers, and contacts in your network, you won’t have to worry about it. Otherwise, tap your existing networks to build up your initial audience. New potential followers won’t be interested in following you unless you already have some semblance of a reputation in place, so use this as your baseline.
- A niche. Next up, you’ll need to choose a specific niche. You can opt for something general, like “marketing,” but this will put you in direct competition with a wide number of other professionals. Instead, as Copyblogger notes, it’s better to do some market research and find a more specific target audience and purpose. You may have a lower volume of potential audience members, but the ones you do have will be more relevant to you, and you’ll face less competition from other personal brands. You can always go more general over time, so try to find something as specific as possible.
- A website (for publishing). Finally, you’ll need a professional website in place to publish your new material. Content is going to provide the main fuel for your personal brand to develop, giving valuable information to your new followers and giving you somewhere to send your followers for opportunities like conversion and engagement. If you’re just starting out and don’t know what your final goals are, a basic template site should be plenty for you. Over time, you can make design and copy improvements and introduce new features, depending on your goals, such as consulting services or your portfolio.
Where to Go Next
With all those baseline requirements in place, you’ll be ready to start fleshing out your personal brand in more detail. So where do you go from here?
Start by publishing new content regularly, both on your website and through your social media channels whenever possible. Then, build your audience by networking with new individuals on a regular basis and engaging with your current audience members. Over time, you’ll develop a reputation as a thought leader, and you’ll be able to engage with other influencers to reach bigger and bigger audiences.
Take things one step at a time, and always remain committed to improvement.