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How to build your personal brand

You don’t have to be a social media influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers to have a personal brand, all of us, no matter what stage you’re at in your career, have a professional identity that sets us apart from everyone else. This incorporates your personality, your experience and background, and your expertise, and it’s what sets you apart from the competition when applying for a highly contested job vacancy or starting up your own business. Here’s our step-by-step guide to developing and promoting your personal brand.

Figure out who you are

Authenticity and earnestness are the core of a good personal brand, and people will quickly see through you trying to sell yourself as something you’re not. So, it’s worth taking some time to come up with an honest appraisal of your skills and traits that can form the basis of your personal brand. Push things you excel at to the forefront and set aside time to make progress in areas you know you need to improve. Your brand won’t be static, and over time you may find many of these qualities change and grow as you do – embrace this, and share your journey as you go, it’s all part of what makes your story valuable to others.

Develop a value proposition

You should consider what, exactly, it is about your unique combination of skills and experience that can benefit others – what value your knowledge can add. Try to sum this up in a single sentence. For example, if your experience is centred around healthcare administration, your value proposition might be: ‘I help hospital administrators streamline their operations and communicate more effectively with their teams.’

Aim to have a couple of good examples of times you have provided this value to write or speak about, thinking especially of times when you have overcome a challenge or achieved outstanding results (remember to use the STAR method). Tell the story in such a way that demonstrates how your skill could be applied to other scenarios (see below).

Expand your network

Get out there and get networking! The easiest way to start this is through social media, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to online only (see below). Reach out to people in your network, people you admire and leaders in your industry. Many leaders are more than happy to provide you with tips and further networking opportunities – good leaders are always on the lookout for ways to help create more leaders.

Tell Your Story

Your unique circumstances, background and experiences make your story different from anyone else and mean that whether you know it or not, you probably have useful advice to give to people in similar situations to those you’ve faced. Do not shy away from telling your personal story – warts and all – and be sure to include the difficult moments and lessons you learned from failure. Again, these experiences will likely resonate with others, and may even help them overcome struggles in their own life.

Gather feedback

Get colleagues, friends, mentors, and mentees to provide honest feedback on working with you and share this with the world. Sites like Trustpilot and LinkedIn offer features for endorsements and professional reviews, but you can also just gather quotes from people you’ve worked with and turn them into posts for your own social channels. Take this feedback on board, too: try to always be finding ways to improve, and in turn, share the lessons you learn doing so.

Log off

Now that in-person events are starting up again, these offer a great way to meet professionals in your area and industry. Local trade and professionals’ associations often run casual networking events every month or so, where you can meet others in your industry and grow your network in a relaxed setting. It’s easy to see your personal brand as primarily online, but nothing compares to getting out there and meeting others in your industry in person. If you’re nervous in social situations, take a friend or colleague along with you to help you feel more at ease.

Your personal brand isn’t something that springs up overnight, it takes time and consistency to build up and share knowledge that people trust, so don’t worry if you don’t see instant results. As your experience and expertise grow, you’ll find yourself building an audience naturally, as long as you share your experiences in a way people can relate to.

Looking for more ways to boost your career? Check out our career advice blog for tips on everything from interview techniques to salary negotiations.