How to Build a Personal Brand Online
How’s your personal branding looking these days? In my role I’m often having conversations with business communities around Australia (face to face and virtually via webinars) about the role LinkedIn plays in building your professional online profile. Personal branding, and helping people understand why this is so important, is central to modern professional success and maximising your time on LinkedIn. Better understanding personal branding provides helpful context for those who want to apply my practical and strategic LinkedIn insights.
To help you better understand this, here are my 5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand Online. There are 9 steps in total, but I do not want to overwhelm you and know that if you can implement the first 5, you are well on the way to building a stronger personal brand online. Implementing each of these 5 steps has enabled me to build my business, Think Bespoke, and are the key steps I use when training and guiding individuals and organisations about how to leverage LinkedIn and a social strategy for their professional goals.
1. Know What You Want to be Known For
If you’ve heard me guest speak or if I’ve trained you or your team, this is a familiar statement, and probably one of the first concepts I explored with you. As a busy person, you do not want to be spending ANY time doing anything that is not serving your goals. It’s therefore essential to be clear about what you want to be known for when you are on any online platform. Let’s consider the different platforms and how this might apply to them. LinkedIn is a place to professionally network and a touch point for clients researching you or your organisation’s services. Instagram and other social media platforms are also important for building your personal brand and may be some of your client’s favourite platform and the place where people decide if they like and trust you. My goals when online are to be known as someone who can help you with LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I am focussed more on the types of organisations I wish to influence, whereas on Instagram and Facebook I am focussed on the individuals I wish to influence. It is a subtle and important difference in focus.
Here’s my dad, Paul. Some of the best advice he gave me when I finished my business degree at RMIT and navigating my first few jobs was ‘Your Most Treasured Possession is Your Name’. This is so true and relates well to other commentator’s views that your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. So what is it that you want people to say about you? This is the first step in developing your personal brand.
2. Know Who You Are Trying to Influence
One of my clients once told me he believes I am always selling. He is right and wrong. I do my best to actively listen to my clients and understand the current challenges they are facing in their business. I create and share content that helps them deal with these challenges. I am also very clear about what I want to be known for and who I would like to influence when I am on LinkedIn and social media. This focus is a time saver and drives most of my behaviour when engaging with others on LinkedIn, either via messaging or when I comment on connection’s updates. Remember, your time is precious, so use it wisely.
3. Be You and Know How to Position This as Your Super Power
The mistake I see many business owners play (and I have made it myself in the past) is to compare themselves to others and be a version of the leader in their industry. This is distracting and unproductive, because your super power is being you! It is dangerous and limiting to compare yourself to others and much more productive to consider who you are trying to influence and in what way you can help them. In this article about my journey with discovering I had ambivert tendencies and this article about discovering what it means to be Australian, I feel myself drawing closer to who I am. This might sound strange and is a difficult concept to explain, but one that I know resonates with my ideal clients who are thoughtful and quieter folk wishing to make a difference in their roles and business. I believe there is plenty of work for everyone and so if you powerfully stand in the space that is uniquely you, your clients will eventually hear about you. Just be you. Because everyone else is taken!
4. Invest in a Professional Headshot
More people are realising the importance of looking their professional best online. It has taken me quite some time to come around to the importance of your physical presentation in influencing your message, but it has been a journey I have enjoyed. It is critical to invest in a professional headshot photo that reflects what you look like when people meet you. At the very least it needs to be on your LinkedIn Profile photo and About Us website page featuring you.
5. Consider the Role of a Branding Photo Shoot for Your Website and Social Media Channels
This one took me a long time to get my head around and is not for everyone, especially if you are like me and have ambivert or introvert tendencies. As a lover of the written word, it just does not feel that comfortable to commit time, money or headspace into a branding photo shoot. What I have discovered is that it is an essential part of finding your voice, telling your story and building your online profile and professional brand. After a chance encounter over dinner with a professional photographer in my network I decided to invest my energies in developing a series of photography that would better showcase, me, my services and approach. It was uncomfortable, but I’m really happy with the results. Here’s a video done by Fi of Fi Mims Photography (who led me through this experience). This was taken on the day we did this branding shoot. Note how uncomfortable I seem at the start of the day and my relief and happiness at the end! I’m glad I did this and encourage you to do the same.
The 4 Additional Steps I Mentioned
I also suggest you need to consider the role of blogging, vlogging, podcasts or guest speaking; keeping an eye on the market (be aware, but do not compete with your competitive set); be an advocate for your clients and build communities, but 5 steps are enough for today!