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14 Ways to Strengthen Your Professional Brand in 2014!

01/13/2014 10:30 pm ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

The new year is here and with it, a chance to have the best of your career. Whether you're self-employed or work for a small or large company, that will mean building and strengthening your professional brand. By enhancing your presence on social media, setting clear and attainable goals for yourself and managing your personal responsibilities, you'll pave the way to make 2014 a huge professional hit. Here are 14 ways to build your brand in 2014:

1) Get going on your goals!
Determine your top professional goal for 2014. Whether it's starting a new business, getting a raise, a promotion or a step towards furthering your education, think about the best way to accomplish it -- then write it down and start taking action immediately.

2) Be socially active
Make sure you're on all the top media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. If you already have profiles set up, go through your photos and posts to ensure there's nothing that could be deemed unprofessional or distasteful by a colleague or employer. If you're in doubt, delete it!

3) Engage, engage, engage!
Now that you're on social media, use it to find the people you want to be in business with and then reach out to them. Refresh your content regularly with new updates and posts that offer your viewpoint and expertise. It will help people get to know you and familiarize themselves with your professional brand.

4) It's all about contacts
People move and change jobs constantly, so it's important to regularly go through your contact list to ensure it's up to date. A good rule of thumb: Keep as many contacts as possible unless you simply don't remember a person. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for keeping everything accurate and organized.

5) Add to your bio

It's the perfect time to look back at any major professional achievements of 2013 and add them to your bio. Remember, however, that bios are meant to be brief, so stick to only your biggest career highlights to date.

6) Invest in a headshot
Spend the money on a professional photo that accurately represents the way you appear now. Get a few different poses so you have the same look, but with a slight variation for different outlets. Make sure you look your best. The end result will be worth it.

7) Get involved with industry events
Whether it's a lecture, a conference, a party or a seminar, pick an event within your industry that sounds appealing to you -- then go. Even if it means getting on a plane, you won't regret the opportunity for invaluable face-to-face networking.

8) Get published
It's important to establish yourself as an expert in your industry whenever possible. A great way to do this is to write for a website or publication that's widely read by your peers. Pick a well-known outlet, then start submitting your work.

9) Be financially fit
Get a solid handle on your revenue and goals for the year. If you need help figuring it out, meet with a financial adviser. Set clear financial goals and devise a plan to meet them.

10) Network more!
Ideally, you should be having lunch or coffee with one professional contact a week. If you don't have time for that, then try at least a half hour Skype with a new contact. If that's not possible, set a goal to do it once a month. Not only will it beef up your Rolodex, you'll be able to connect with them on a more personal level.

11) Expand your interests

Outside activities are another great way to forge new relationships. Join a team, take a class or pick up a new hobby. You'll meet new people while staying active, productive and versatile.

12) Up your style ante

The way you look is a vital part of your professional brand. Take a look at your wardrobe and grooming; do they reflect the statement you want to make about yourself? If not, make the necessary changes while staying within your budget.

13) Pay it forward
Think about who in your network could use a little help even if it's just a check-in to see how they are doing. Reach out to them. It only takes a minute to send someone a short note that can go a long way. Doing this cultivates lasting goodwill with those in your network.

14) Recharge your batteries
Everyone needs time to decompress and recharge. Book your vacation now, otherwise it will never happen. If you don't have time for vacation then carving out time each week for a great workout or time to meditate can also work well. When you return, you'll be rested, revitalized and focused on what you need to accomplish.