Many years ago, as an undergraduate at Boston University, I never imagined that I’d be in front of a room speaking to students about building and promoting their brand.
“What’s a personal brand?” Think of what a group of people would say about you when you left the room. If you got a chance to talk and interact with them, they’d be qualified to talk about the persona of your brand. That means what you’re all about – your values, personality, heart and soul. They’ve formed some kind of opinion – and if you’re in business, you hope it’s good.
If you’re solidifying your professional brand, or making your personal brand stronger and more recognizable, consider these tips, written for Boston University students looking for a job. Many of the same principles apply to small business owners, experts and speakers to make themselves memorable.
- Be clear on who you are and what problems you solve. Clarity is key. Think of a brand as how you want to make someone feel and include an identifiable mark or logo.
- Write down what you want and who you need to become to be that brand. Putting your thoughts on paper reinforces your intention. Revamp as often as you like as goals and mission change.
- Identify key words for your industry and the position you’re seeking. Craft your message online and offline and add key word nuggets whether the opportunities are for internships, corporate positions or speaking engagements.
- Buy your name as an URL and create a simple, easy to navigate website that’s in alignment with your brand. Write in a manner that’s consistent with who you are and what you stand for. Be the best version of you.
- Start your own media channel. Don’t rely on others. Your own media could be a word press blog, website, articles, videos or other properties that are yours. Don’t risk being under someone else’s control. Create your own material and future.
- C’mon, get a new headshot. You don’t have to break the bank to do it either. If a friend has talent and a great camera – go for it. It’s OK to be funky, if your brand is funky, but not if you’re going into investment banking. Make sure your photos are in alignment with your future self – and in high resolution format.
- Create compelling and keyword rich profiles on all social media platforms. Remove any borderline comments, posts or pictures. If you question it, it has to go! You are your brand wherever you go, including social media. The internet never sleeps or deletes.
- Beef up your LinkedIn Profile with searchable key words and if you’re comfortable, include your phone number in the header. Use all characters available and think about using the bar | to separate words. That’s the shift and backslash \ key. If you don’t have oodles of experience, mention volunteer work and online studies. Everything worthwhile counts.
- Join LinkedIn Groups. Use the advanced research tool to find the types of people you want to know. Listen, first. Then participate. Don’t ask for work or to get a job. Get to know fellow group members and give them time to like, know and trust you.
- Consider buying the book “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success (Third Edition): Kick-Start Your Business, Brand and Job Search” by Wayne Breithbart. I recommend it to all of my clients. LinkedIn is always changing, so stay on top of what’s going on.
- If you’re looking to test the waters or try out a new field, get an internship, even if it’s unpaid. You never know where it will lead you. And, be sure to over deliver, mindfully. Have an open attitude, be willing to learn and remember to be a team player, not a Diva.
- Volunteer for a cause that you believe in, and share what you’re doing online and offline. How you pay it forward is an important part of your personal brand. Engage with your community through photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Don’t forget #hashtags.
- Want to make an impression? Future employers, partners and third-party companies are assessing your talents, background and potential. What you bring to the table brings them success. Build a foundation that’s wide and deep with your own ideas and sound bites from other thought leaders. Talk it up like you’re an insider.
- Too busy to network? That’s like saying you’re too busy to be successful. Networking is about being of service. Listen, learn and perfect the art of establishing a relationship. You never know who you’ll meet, when you least expect it.
- Dare to take a quantum leap! Ready to move forward in a big way, not knowing what to expect? That’s a quantum leap. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time, like fear and opportunity, two sides of the same coin. You’ll never know if the water is cold unless you jump in. You can sink, float or swim like mad. You are what you think. It’s almost spring. Blossom to Awesome.