Advisors' Corner

Creative Self Marketing: A Guide to Online Personal Branding

Follow this guide to grow & develop your personal brand so that you can professionally flourish and see success in your career development.

As a business professional in this highly globalized and connected world, it can be challenging to make your mark in the digital world. As more people gain success and prominence in the online universe, it can be easy to feel lost. Now more than ever, resumes and cover letters aren’t enough to get a sense of one’s capabilities and credibility. In-fact, “googling” people to discover who they are and what they do is how other professionals gauge an individual’s accomplishments and successes. This is where the importance of personal branding comes in.

So, what is personal branding? We know that branding on a business level is common, but now, it is just as important on a personal level as well. You can think of personal branding as a way of marketing yourself to the world: is a tool, that when used effectively, can highlight your skills and your personality to the digital community. It can further establish your unique self and make you stand out. A strong personal brand will positively impact your ability to get the right jobs and promotions as a job seeker, or reinforce your professionalism if you are already established.

We have put together a guide to help you build a confident and expressive online personal brand:

Who are you?

The first and perhaps most important step is answering the question, “what makes you, you?” Think about your unique characteristics and strengths corresponding to them. Identify them, write them down, and define how they contribute to your overall career goals.

As an easy example, if one of your strengths is communication and you want to identify how you have executed this strength, think about the work you have done. Have you written credible articles, or worked in customer success? This will help you define and showcase what you can bring to the table, which will in turn help you when you’re choosing a platform to share your voice.

You should then go on to define your values, which can be both from a business and ethical standpoint. From a business standpoint, do you want to drive innovation? Are you interested in developing successful business strategies? And from an ethical standpoint, are you a humanitarian? Do you care about the environment? These values, backed by your strengths and characteristics will allow you to be your authentic self, and being authentic is the core of personal branding – it is what will make your audience trust you and engage with you.

Craft your Message

After you have established who you are, let your audience know what you do and what makes you different. Create a short message that sums up who you are in a way that will connect with your audience. The key here is to keep it short, simple and memorable – they want to know your story, but they will not want to spend too much time on it (think elevator pitch). The message should reflect who you are, your values, and the results you’ve achieved so that you can use it to brand yourself on your professional profiles. Remember, practice what you preach and embody this message in everything you do – consistency is key to capture your audience.

Choose Your Platforms

Something to keep in mind when choosing your platform(s) is what the online community will see when they search the web for you. To begin, you will need your social media accounts to represent your brand. As a rule of thumb, delete anything that would make you seem unprofessional. Secondly, update all of your information so that it is current. LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and/or websites should all be completed and should have clear contact details. If someone wishes to get in touch with you, they should be able to do so in a touch of a button and not have to go on a wild goose chase just to find your email.

Note: Need a LinkedIn refresher? Check out this article.

Moving on, creating a website that acts as a portfolio is an extremely important component of your online personal branding. Whether you use YouTube, Twitter or Instagram for most of your content, a website portfolio can act as an online resume and will be your key to advancing in your field. It is easier to do this yourself than you think. It should be easily navigable, have an engaging “about me” page, and truly showcase your unique persona.

Note: Check out these examples of personal websites for inspiration.

Share Your Knowledge

After you choose your platforms, prove you know your stuff – this is where content comes into play. Depending on your style, create content for your social media and website so that you can show how you are an expert in your niche. This can be anything from videos to blog posts (on your website or on LinkedIn/other platforms). These will reinforce your knowledge and abilities to those who are searching for you, whether it is recruiters for job seekers or companies who are looking to hire you as an experienced and seasoned professional.

Remember, in personal branding, it is crucial to be yourself and find your own style – if you do what everyone else is doing there is a greater chance you will blend in rather than stand out. Further, whatever you put out there reflects who you are and will be what others see in order to make judgements about you; so while it is important to be creative in marketing yourself so that you stand out from others, it is also important to be professional and accurate in doing so.

In following the above guide, you will successfully begin your journey in marketing yourself online and are on the path to discovering new opportunities. Remember to keep up with your online presence and continue innovating with online trends as you go. Happy branding!

For an advanced guide that will help you dive into the details of building your personal brand, click here.