How to build your personal brand

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

To really maximise the ROI on that old adage ‘people buy from people’, you need to position yourself as the individual go-to provider of choice. Cue personal branding.

In an age of social media and the increased competition across all sectors, buyers have a greater choice and are more selective about who they choose to partner with. And sometimes the ‘personality’ of the business and its key representatives can tip the balance of where they take their business.

No one can deny that Messrs Branson and Jobs et al are the epitome of the personal brand and the powerful impact each had on driving revenues for their respective organisations cannot be understated.

But you don’t need to be the head of a world-leading multinational business to consider what impact your personal brand can have both for you and the organisation you represent.

So, how do you cultivate your personal brand? Here are five key ways to build a personal brand that get’s the attention of the people that you want to reach most.

1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand:

What do you want people, clients and colleagues to think of you when they hear your name? Are you looking to be considered an expert in your field or associated with certain skills and qualities, such as being someone who gets things done and achieves positive outcomes in challenging conditions?

Your personal brand needs to be a reflection of your true self. So consider what is most important to you when it comes to your career, what your strengths and weaknesses are and the qualities that you want to be most associated with.

Once you have an understanding of the way in which you want to be regarded you can then begin to work at promoting your brand to the right people, in the right way and at the right time.

2. Check out your digital footprint:

It is estimated that 92% (source: AVG) of infants under the age of two years old already have a digital footprint – imagine what may be on the internet for someone with five, 10 or more years of work experience?

Google yourself and ensure you know precisely what is being said about you online. Are you easy to find on search engines or do you have a fairly common name that leaves you languishing several pages back from the first results page, such as John Smith? If that is the case then consider using a middle name or initial à la our American cousins, such as John Andrew Smith or John AP Smith.

68% of people say that online presence drives reputation

Your name is your intellectual property, so make sure that you are ‘discoverable’ online and that you keep track of what is being said about you by setting up Google alerts.

3. Get yourself ‘out there’:

There are innumerable opportunities to raise your personal brand online, not least via social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter and through blogging. Social media is a key tool in the search box for business leaders as it helps them to see who are the key influencers and players in a particular sector.

Regularly posting and sharing content that is valuable and interesting to those within your sector via your social media profiles enables you to take control of your digital footprint. Just take a look at our social media activity – we share a lot of content that is useful to those responsible for the marketing of their businesses. In doing so we’re seen as a foremost authority in our space.

It also helps you to raise your profile as someone who has a finger on the pulse of what is happening in your specific field which in turn can increase your status as the go-to provider in your field.

4. Add value to the conversation:

Thought leadership content is most effective when it address the needs of the audience you are engaging with and adds value – what do you have to say that can provide a solution to a common problem. Do you have a unique perspective on a topical news story affecting your sector, for example?

There are a number of excellent self-build websites that are easy to use and relatively inexpensive (and simple too!) to set up. So you could create your own site and blog page where you can host your own thought leadership articles and other content.

But there are other options open to you, such as LinkedIn’s own publishing platform. This provides you with the opportunity to upload your blog posts under your own LinkedIn profile where that will be shared among your existing connections.

5. Network, network, network:

In order to publicise your personal brand, you will need to relevant attend events and engage key ‘influencers’ via social media – influencers such as colleagues (past and present) and sector groups.

At the end of the day, if you have setup a profile that accurately illustrates your skills and experience, then you are in a good position. But just as much effort needs to be put into networking afterwards in order to really make an impression.

50% of a company’s reputation is driven by the profile of the CEO and senior management team

Tactics to use

We have already mentioned social media, but what other personal branding tactics should you consider?

  • Video: Could you talk to a camera (even just on an iPhone) for 30 seconds about something you know like the back of your hand and could help others? Short videos are highly effective, make you more discoverable online, increase the number of shares you generate on social media, and increase your click through rates by 96% when included in a newsletter.
  • Host a roundtable: Simple yet equally brilliant way to raise your branding and the agency you represent. There are always one or two key issues affecting every sector. Invite local businesses from the sector and a business journalist to a breakfast roundtable and then discuss three of four of the most pertinent issues. This provides you with content for a blog, social media, great imagery that will boost traction of your posts, coverage in your local (and possibly trade) media, and a series of three or four short videos that will give you even more online traction. And it hardly costs a thing to produce!
  • Surveys: A sure fire way to gain media attention is to canvas the opinion of stakeholders and release the findings to the relevant media. Matt Alder and Mervyn Dinnen recently did just that in collaboration with Papirfly (listen here), where they unearthed the four biggest issues facing employer branding. Again, this shines the limelight on you.

Building up your personal brand is not easy, but once you have done it and connected to people in the same field, you should reap the rewards. Nevertheless, like in any area of life, success never comes overnight – it takes hard work, effort and fine-tuning.

There are unpteen ways to effectively build your personal brand and that of your business. We’ve been doing just that for clients for over 10 years, so if you need any further pointers you know where we are!