Communicating a consistent, strong personal brand is important — whether you’re looking for a new job, seeking a promotion, cultivating new business or advancing your career.
Your personal brand is a holistic representation of who you are personally and professionally. It is not a single statement or tagline; rather, it encompasses your strengths, expertise, the results and impact you achieve and unique methods you employ to produce quality work. It also includes your character, ethics, principles and behavior.
9 Tips to Build and Communicate a Strong Personal Brand
- 1. Focus on people, not on your phone
Although technology plays a major role in our daily lives, its presence has an appropriate time and place. If you are constantly looking at your phone while others are speaking, whether during meetings, business lunches or events, you are clearly indicating that you’re not paying full attention and are disengaged, which can be interpreted as a lack of respect to the person speaking.
- 2. Update your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile should always be up-to-date, regardless of your interest in pursuing a new job. Make sure you have a headline that describes what you do (not your title), a summary that ties together your major strengths and achievements and a current, professional-looking headshot. Your profile should also include your present job, most recent roles and board or volunteer positions, with each showing your key responsibilities, achievements and results.
- 3. Review your online bios
Companies, professional organizations and alumni associations often post board member, senior executive and key employee bios on their websites. Be aware of the places where your bio is posted, and make sure that in each place, it is an accurate, current reflection of you professionally, emphasizing your expertise and major contributions.
- 4. Assess your appearance
Physical presentation, i.e., dressing well and maintaining good grooming habits, reflects a strong personal brand. The care you put into your appearance can translate to the level of attention to detail that you bring to your work and how you represent your organization.
Your wardrobe should be appropriate for your age, position, company and industry. If you’re not sure if your appearance is the best reflection of your personal brand, ask a friend or colleague for their honest opinion. You can also hire a professional stylist to get objective advice on how to improve your image.
- 5. Make a good first impression
When networking at events, conferences and parties, endeavor to make a positive first impression on every person you meet. Consider how you introduce yourself and others. Ask engaging questions about a person’s job, company or interests, conference topics or industry trends and be an active listener. It’s hard to make a good first impression if the conversation is all about you. Don’t be afraid to ask thought-provoking questions, however, avoid controversial topics when meeting new people.
- 6. Pay attention to detail when sending emails
Well written emails (as well as other forms of written communication) speak to a strong personal brand. If you have typos, mistakes, sloppy formatting or broken links in your emails, it suggests a lack of care for your work. Timeliness when responding to emails is also important, especially when they are from new contacts. Waiting several weeks to reply is not only a bad practice, but it can be a clear indication to senders that they are not a priority.
- 7. Curate your social media presence
Evaluate your personal description and activity on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to assess the image you project. While these may be personal accounts, it’s important that the impression you create does not contradict your personal brand. If you post about controversial topics, complain about your job or employer or include inappropriate photos, it can negatively affect your professional image, so consider deleting those posts or accounts. An account may be private, but there are a variety of ways that people can ultimately see your content.
- 8. Publish expert content
Publishing your insight and expertise can position you as a thought leader and authority in your field. Professional organizations, alumni associations, vendors and strategic partners often look for guest writers for their blogs and newsletters to bring in new perspectives. You can also post an article here on LinkedIn Pulse.
- 9. Avoid distractions during meetings
Your personal brand is represented by your actions. Actively participating and contributing to the conversation in meetings demonstrates that you are engaged and care about your work. If you appear distracted or disinterested, especially while others are speaking, you may be creating a lasting negative impression on colleagues, clients and business partners.
Your appearance, communication, behavior and online presence are all reflections of you. Paying attention to details will enhance your image, elevate your reputation and advance your career — in other words, it will help you create a strong personal brand.