Have you ever looked at the personal brands of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey or Tony Robbins and thought, "Yeah, it works for them, but I'm not successful enough to risk standing out like that!"
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Here's the secret: A brand isn't something you build once opportunity has landed in your lap. Rather, a brand is the engine that brings new opportunities your way. It fuels growth no matter what stage of your career you're in – and perhaps most importantly, it separates you from the pack. The end result? You'll be on the receiving end of a steady flow of new opportunities from employers and people who wish to do business with you. You may never have to hunt for a job again.
Here's how to get started building such a brand for yourself:
1. Define Your Mission
A sense of purpose is essential to a brand that attracts attention. It is the North Star that guides every action you take, from giving a talk to firing off a tweet. If you skip this step, you will quickly find yourself lost in the woods, struggling to be found.
Start by listing your top five values from most important to least. Examples might include "family," "community," and "ambition."
Then, list your top five passions from most important to least. Are you obsessed with advances in technology? Do you love being a "connector" between people in your network? Are you a fiend for mountain biking (like I am)? Don't separate career and personal – just list your passions.
Finally, list your top five ideal traits. What traits have been most responsible for your successes to date? Quick learning? Empathy? Curiosity?
Now review your answers to create a powerful one line mission statement. Here are some examples:
- My mission is to help ambitious people reach new levels in their careers.
- My mission is to improve the lives of patients by bringing game-changing digital health solutions into the marketplace.
- My mission is to show companies that investing in HR and talent development isn't frivolous, but absolutely critical to long-term success.
2. Turn Your LinkedIn Profile Into a Brand Asset
If your LinkedIn profile does nothing but reiterate your resume, you're wasting an enormous opportunity. Hook employers by turning it into a space that captivates and drives engagement instead.
Create a headline that speaks directly to your audience's pain. You're not an FPA manager, you're "a leader who can tap into finance's potential to unlock value." See the difference?
Turn curiosity into engagement by haring your story in the summary section. Use the following structure:
1. Your mission
2. How your background – personal and professional – revealed this mission to you.
3. What you're currently doing to advance your mission.
Be sure to bring in visual elements. A picture truly does say a thousand words. Invest in some professional headshots and think hard about developing visual assets like a case studies report or project portfolio you can link to your profile. These will add major value!
3. Launch a 'Top of Mind' Campaign
Regular engagement on social media is key to making sure your name is the first one on people's lips. Think in terms of delivering value instead of self-promotion. Ask yourself, "What problems are my target employers grappling with?" and "What is unique about the way I see this problem?"
Beyond "hot takes" on industry goings-on, you can share quotes, thank others in your network, and share your learning. In other words, as you learn interesting and relevant new things and come across amazing content, share it with your followers. This will help you come across as an industry insider and go a long ways toward establishing credibility with employers – before they've even reached out to you.
Consider using a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage all of your social media accounts in one place, and schedule a week's (or month's) worth of posts in one sitting.
Use the "ABA" principle for your campaign – always be analyzing! What posts struck a chord with your target audience? Do more of that.
4. Amplify Your Voice Across Platforms
Once you have a regular "top of mind" campaign going, it's time to get serious about creating shareable content that will juice your efforts and act as "calling cards" with potential employers.
Get serious about blogging. Set up a personal website (all-in-one website builders like Squarespace and Weebly can get you up and running quickly) and start creating long-form posts that key decision-makers at target companies would find highly useful. These can also be shared on LinkedIn. Expert tip: Use Quora to search for questions that are frequently asked by professionals in your niche and write blog posts addressing those questions in depth.
Launch and manage a niche LinkedIn group – for example, "Digital Marketing and PR Outlaws." This can help establish you as a thought leader and bring a steady flow of relevant industry connections your way. Just be sure to carve out some weekly time to moderate comments and engagement. A spam-filled group does you no favors!
Consider creating a weekly podcast or YouTube-hosted video series that will give you a broader level of exposure and foster deeper connections with your target audience.
5. Take It Offline
As alluring as online brand building is, there is no substitute for person-to-person engagement. Research local events and meetups where you can speak. Provide tons of value – and be sure to record them to share on social media to add to your portfolio! It's an amazing way to meet and leverage industry influencers.