Years ago, when you applied for a job or advertised your business to the outside world, recognition was only seen in hard copy. But, today, your personal brand is easily traceable because now you have a digital footprint. Without a modern website, a strong online presence, or even a strategic marketing plan, it’s hard to sell yourself effectively in the digital age. As a career coach and professional branding expert, I partner daily with senior managers and executives who have difficulty marketing themselves and transcending the idea of having a stellar personal brand. I firmly believe there are 3 key tools you need to build your personal brand: your resume, your LinkedIn profile and online presence, and a solid PR strategy.
Personal Branding Tool #1: Your Resume
One of the biggest misnomers is that resumes are only necessary for job seekers. However, a resume is no longer just a summary of your work history. It is a strategic marketing document that serves to highlight and accentuate your personal brand. Contrary to popular belief, a one-page networking resume allows high-powered executives to quickly display their career highlights, leadership achievements, and impressive career trajectory for a business meeting or board of directors interview. If you are a business consultant, a one-page networking resume is a necessary tool when you attend meetings to on-board new and advertise to prospective clients. I also recommend pairing it with an executive bio as this is the perfect complement to an executive portfolio, particularly for speaking engagements and publications. So, whether you are a job seeker or a CEO of a tech company, you need a resume to convey your personal brand.
Personal Branding Tool #2: Your Online Presence
Today, a strong online presence can make you or break you. If you’re a business owner, you must be interactive on social media to convey your personal brand and build both your credibility and authority in your niche. If you’re a job seeker, you need a powerful LinkedIn profile to apply for jobs.
Social media is literally free marketing and advertising. Yet, I often see this on LinkedIn from job seekers and business owners: a non-customized URL, less than 100 connections, a job title that serves as their headline, an empty space where their summary belongs, and little (or no) information in their experience section. Business owners overlook the opportunity to self-publish articles on LinkedIn to maximize their brand reputation. Why?
Today, more than 60% of jobs are acquired through active networking and more than 80% of people shop online. If your online presence isn’t strong or compelling, then you are diminishing your chances of speaking to your consumer, next client, or even your next hiring manager. Letting someone know I am the CEO of The Writing Guru does not tell them my personal brand or give insight into who I am. Your job is what you do, but your personal brand is who you are. Thus, your personal brand should be based on multiple factors: your industry, your targeted clients, and what makes you unique in your niche. What matters most in developing your personal brand is what sets you apart in your industry and why you are a trusted source to others. Let social media be the vessel that shares your brand.
Personal Branding Tool #3: A Solid PR Strategy
In today’s digital age, a solid PR strategy is more important than ever. Most often, companies and business owners are so focused on gaining clients and generating revenue that they forget to build their brand and credibility in the process. Brand reputation management is a key area of focus that requires diligence, vision, and tactical planning. In order to grow your brand, it’s imperative to become an expert in your field. How do you do that? Step one is to become a thought leader in your industry through publications, blogs, and solid online visibility. Formulating a blog and sharing those articles is a good start to successful content marketing. But, how do you then generate the necessary visibility?
Durée Ross, President & CEO of Durée & Company, a top PR marketing firm, advises that the next best step after writing a blog is to “Follow journalists that cover your industry and connect with them. Provide them feedback on their stories and inject some of your thoughts as a response.”
Her rationale for this is simple: “Open the line of communication with media, frequently, and there’s a chance they will reach out to use you as a resource. So, pay attention because opportunities to promote your brand are endless.”
Certifications, professional development, and continuing education are important components as well, so don’t leave those in the dust when building your brand. Leveraging this entire melting pot together will help you to become a stronger influencer in your niche and will provide you with solid brand management.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, award-winning career expert, and Forbes Career Coach who has been featured in more than 30 news sources and online publications as a top authority in resume writing, LinkedIn profiles, and job search strategies.