Establish Your Personal Brand

This post is part of the 7 Steps to a Personal Brand series.
Read the previous post: Identify Your Personal Brand.

In the last post, we went through the process of identifying your personal brand and creating a brand summary. That was step one. Step two is to establish your personal brand.

The end goal is to ensure that everyone in your life, from your Twitter followers to your boss, has a clear understanding of your brand, and as a result, remembers you and thinks of you favorably. We’ll address how to do that in subsequent steps. But before you can convey your brand to the world, you must first establish your brand for yourself.

Google yourself

I like to start with getting your online house in order. When you google yourself, what do you see? You may see your personal website, LinkedIn profile, or listing in your employee directory. You may see the results from the 5K fun run you did last year or the yelp review you posted after having a bad experience at a restaurant. If you don’t have much of a digital footprint, the only listing you may see is on WhitePages.com.

You’re not the only one googling your name. Prospective employers, clients, fans, business partners, all want to know what kind of person they’re dealing with. They’ll google you and scroll through page after page to collect the needed information to tell them exactly who they are.

The type of online footprint you create will depend on your industry and the brand you’re trying to establish. If you’re climbing the ranks in the financial industry, you may not need a flashy website or vibrant Facebook presence. You would focus on your LinkedIn profile, maybe write a guest post or two for HuffPost Business. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, your website, Instagram, and Pinterest presence are all crucial to establishing your brand.

As a publicist and social media pro, it’s my job to have an understanding of all social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean all social media platforms are crucial to my brand. I’m active on Twitter, as are most of the movers and shakers in my industry. I’m active on Facebook to reach the general consumer audience. And now that I’m working more with entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’ve expanded my LinkedIn presence. I don’t bother with Pinterest or Snapchat, and only use Instagram for cross-posting photos to other platforms. I have a modern, up-to-date site, and I contribute articles to outlets like Digital Book World, Huffington Post, and Writers Digest. Anyone who googles my name will receive my brand message and have a clear understanding of who I am. The same should be true for you.

To get ahead, work backward

The key is to think of your target audience and work backwards. If you’re trying to reach potential employers, where do they get their information? The answer will be different for moms or 20-somethings or venture capitalists. Who is the audience you’re trying to reach? What does their typical day look like? Where do they get their news? Do they read online or in-print? Listen to the radio or podcasts? Do they even know what Snapchat is?

Create a list of all the platforms utilized by your target audience. If you don’t already have accounts on those platforms, sign up. For the platforms you currently use, make sure all your information is up to date and on-brand. Add your brand message to your website, use your tagline as your twitter bio, swap out all avatars so they match. Then google yourself again. What comes up now?

Now that you have the platforms, you may be wondering what you’re going to say. Next week, we’ll outline how to develop a content strategy so you have a clear understanding of what to post, and when.

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