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How to brand yourself for success

Who are you? What do you represent? What do you stand for?

The answer to these questions is part of your personal brand. 

Why personal branding is important

Your personal brand is your skills, experience and personality. It includes your background, your heritage and reflects your behaviour and attitudes.

Before social media, only people who met you personally knew anything about you. Now anyone can go on LinkedIn and get your entire professional profile. That’s good if they’re researching your skills or business. But it’s bad if they discover opinions that don’t align with your company or professional persona.

So, why would they care? People are very good at doing their research online. They want to invest in authentic brands offering high-quality goods and services. And they want to support people they think deserve their support. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t Google you.

A woman with long hair smiles and laughs while sitting at a table, holding a pen and tablet. She is wearing a gray sweater in a casual setting with a dark-toned background. As an entrepreneur possibly starting a business, she appears to be engaged and enjoying the moment.

Follow your digital footprint

What is on the Internet never goes away. It can always be found and pulled into the light.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of a tweet or photo that ruins a career. Think it won’t happen to you? Hmmmm, it might. Look through your photos, past posts and comments. How would they look and sound to a potential customer, investor, employee, or even journalist.

Ask someone objective to go through your social media accounts to point out any issues and be ready to scrub anything questionable. But … it may live on. Have an explanation ready just in case.

But your political stance has nothing to do with your job, so why can’t you express an opinion? If you are concerned, consider setting up separate, private social media accounts and professional, public ones.

Maximise your LinkedIn presence

LinkedIn is your online CV and a fantastic networking tool. It’s ‘professional you’ on a platter for the world to see. To help people in their search, use strong keywords in your personal description, summary and job titles that best shows off your expertise and experience. Ensure it’s not a fluffy, rambling, jargon-filled mess. It should be snappy and full of relevant stats and facts about your most significant professional accomplishments. Take the time to really sell yourself properly. Make sure you keep your page updated not just with new business accomplishments, but when you speak at conferences, complete a professional course or have an article published.

Photos are essential too. Your profile image doesn’t have to be a professional studio shot (but that can add real value to your professional image). Still, it should be clear, smiling and show a full-frontal face and shoulders. Whatever you do, avoid using Snapchat or Instagram filters — it could come across as unprofessional.

So, your page is ready, and you are ready to socialise virtually. Now what?

Join LinkedIn groups and be an active and respectful participant in discussions. Connect with people in your industry and engage with their content. That way, you already have a connection when you hopefully meet them face-to-face.

But remember LinkedIn is your professional-self, so don’t write anything you wouldn’t say openly in public.

Your personal brand is what makes you unique. Make sure it reflects you as clearly, concisely and professionally as possible.