Creating an image online is hard work. It requires forethought into what message you want to convey, as well as the writing and technical skills to create the image you're imagining. The rewards, though, are worth it: A brand offers a chance to display your skills, draw in public interest and establish a strong marketing engine. So how can you get started?
Below, 15 Forbes Agency Council members talk about the key things you should do when starting to build your personal brand.
1. Get To Know Yourself First
Your personal brand should be a true representation of who you are — otherwise, you won't be authentic and it will show through to your audience. So take a little time to get to know yourself first. If it feels difficult to be natural, start by creating a persona that reflects who you are and map your branding to that. Sometimes being yourself takes a little more effort, but it's well worth it. - Diana Wolff, LRG Marketing
2. Establish A Cohesive Visual Presentation
If you showed a social post from your Facebook page with your face blurred out, would people still recognize it's your post? If not, your brand needs a more cohesive visual presentation. This means consistent fonts, colors and layouts. The latter is often overlooked when it comes to social media posts but can make a noticeable difference for personal brands that are just starting. - Christina Baldassarre, Zebra Advertisement
3. Focus On Improving Your Writing Skills
In today's world, building a personal brand has a lot to do with your online presence, and that means getting good at writing. If you're already a good writer, then you're way ahead of the game. If you're not that comfortable with writing, practice and learn. "Winning the Story Wars" is a great, easy read on telling stories. - Craig Klein, SalesNexus.com
4. Think Twice Before Commenting
In a 24/7/365 news cycle, there are many opportunities in print, broadcast and the Internet to elaborate on opinions that hopefully favorable reflect the image you seek to build. Yet, your reputation is your most valuable possession. Think before you comment on anything. Ask yourself, is your comment thoughtful, hurtful, intelligent, necessary and kind. If not, think twice — because media can also backfire. - Dian Griesel, Dian Griesel International
5. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Think of yourself as a brand, then ask yourself what you want your audience to feel when they think of you? What are your strengths, and how do you want to stand out? Google yourself and see what comes up. Is it consistent with your desired reputation? If other people are coming up ahead of you on search results, consider using a middle initial or purchasing a personal website to boost your rankings. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
6. Associate With The Super Credible
The power of association is the most powerful personal branding skill. Look at someone like Lewis Howes, who has built a world-class podcast. The effect works just like Oprah's show did. You bring on a super-credible guest and over time, you start to gain credibility as well because you are in association with other rock stars. It's not a trick. It's fundamental to personal branding. - Brian D. Evans, Influencive / BDE Ventures
7. Define Your Aesthetic, Voice And Values
It is important to define your aesthetic, voice and core values early on. Those three things will guide where you take your brand, who will come along for the journey and how you portray your brand to the public. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
8. Describe Yourself (Without Going Overboard)
Start by writing a paragraph describing you, as you would like to be described. Be detailed. Try to mention every aspect, your tone, attitude, demeanor and your dress. Do it quickly; don't over think it. Now imagine handing it over to someone you work with. Would you be confident they wouldn't roll their eyes at you? Now think about what you can do to live up to your vision. Start living up to it. - Randy Hughes, Carmichael Lynch
9. Claim Your Name
Before launching your brand, buy your domain name and claim your name on each social network. Even if you have no intention of using it in the future, this will prevent others from doing it once your brand is established, as well ensure they are available for you when you are ready for them. If you really want insurance, secure each variant of spelling as well. - Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions
10. Go Beyond The Visuals
Everyone already knows about staying consistent with logo, font and colors. But there's a less aesthetic part of branding that should not be neglected: the mission statement, core values and unique value proposition. All of those make up the bulk of nonvisual branding signals that are still a significant part of a brand's identity. - Stormie Andrews, Yokel Local
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11. Clean Up Past Social Media
If you are successful with building your personal brand, then you should receive a lot of exposure. Make sure you are ready for this exposure. Google your name and see how your online reputation holds up. Remove any inappropriate past social media posts, remove unflattering photos and engage in reverse SEO to push down any unfavorable or irrelevant articles that may appear when people search your name. - Arya Bina, Kobe Digital
12. Identify Your Style And Audience
Think about what you want to accomplish and who your audience is. What platform do you need to utilize in order to best reach this audience? If you're more visual, then perhaps Instagram is a good place to focus your efforts, or if you are a fantastic creative writer with a lot of opinions, you’ll want to start a blog. Have a point of view that is authentic to you and to your mission. - Jennifer Hawkins, HAWKINS International Public Relations Inc
13. Be Consistent With Your Social Username
Since most personal brands at some point catch popularity in a social channel, you need to make it easy for your newfound fans to easily tag you in their social posts. Avoid middle initials that confuse people, and instead get creative with prefixes or even suffixes to maintain consistency. It's a powerful thing to say, "You can find me on your favorite social channel as @consistentname." - Todd Earwood, MoneyPath
14. Tie Your Personal Brand To Your Passion
Tie your personal brand to your passion. It should be for something that people want and need and that also has great meaning for you. Share this passion in blogs, on social media and in emails, and eventually, your brand will be synonymous with your passion. Then when people see, think or read about your passion, your personal brand will be the first thing that comes to mind. - Bernadette Coleman, Advice Local
15. Don't Be Like Everyone Else. Seriously.
Marketing is full of "thought leaders," "keynote speakers" and "brand evangelists." And more than 90% of these "experts" all say the same thing. So, if you want to not just build a personal brand, but breakthrough the clutter, you have to be different. Stake out a genuine position on a business challenge or consumer need that is unchartered. Share your viewpoint, add value and repeat. Again and again. - Brian Walker, AE Marketing Group
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