How to create a marketable personal brand in 5 steps
1. Figure out who you are
Figuring out who you are might sound like a strange proposition. But how well do you know yourself? Unfortunately, in today’s fast-moving world, many of us forget to take the time to reflect and focus on ourselves. To build a solid personal brand, a bit of introspection is vital.
Here’s a simple exercise to help you with this process. Grab a sheet of paper and write down the answers to the following:
What do I struggle with?
What drives me?
What kind of tasks drain my energy?
What do people compliment me on?
As uncomfortable as it may feel, honesty and deep thinking are integral here. If you struggle to answer these questions, try asking friends and family for their input. Of course, none of the answers to these questions are set in stone and will change over time as you learn and grow. However, once you know yourself better, you can start working to project an image of yourself and start strategizing your career.
2. Consider how you want to be known
Once you’ve worked out who you are today, you can start to focus on who you want to be tomorrow. Try not to focus too much on the things you want in life but on the habits required to be the person who gets those things.
You can start by looking at the industry you wish to enter: what knowledge, reputation, and talents are required to succeed there? Think big, but break down larger goals into small achievable steps. That way, you can measure your actual progress easier later.
Related: Your Most Burning Questions About Personal Branding, Answered
3. Define your niche
Your aim should never be to try and please everyone with your brand. It’s a waste of your energy and resources. Instead, focus your efforts on defining your niche and working to appeal to your particular audience.
Companies, professionals, clientele and recruiters are more likely to contact someone who specializes in solving a specific problem than someone who claims to do a bit of everything. Think about it this way: if there’s a leak in your house, who are you more likely to call: a handyperson or plumber? Of course, it’s good to still work on building broader skills, but a well-defined niche can help you focus on taking command of a specific section of the market.
4. Optimize your social footprint
Once you’ve honed in on your specific audience, ask where these people can be found and what they are looking for. Once you’ve answered those questions, start building your online presence to cater to them. For example, suppose you are a graphic designer looking for customers. You would do well to focus on building an impressive online portfolio and promoting it across more generalized social media platforms.
Wherever you promote and interact online, remember that consistency is vital. For instance, don’t act like a professional on LinkedIn and post drunk and embarrassing photos elsewhere. Ensure the overarching tone and image you present online remains similar across platforms.
5. Network like crazy
The point of networking is not to try and amass a following. Impressive though it may seem, having thousands of followers won’t do you any good if no one is engaging with you. Your real aim is to create connections and foster communication.