Today, we have a post from personal finance blogger Harry Campbell. Harry started blogging about personal finance on his main site Your PF Pro a few years ago and enjoyed it so much that he started a second site dedicated to finding the perfect work-life balance at The Four Hour Work Day. When Harry is not blogging, he works full time as an aerospace engineer and enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball.
Do you know what your personal brand looks like? If you’ve never even thought about it before, it’s time to start. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand that we each need to build, cultivate, and maintain our own personal brands.
You might already know why it’s important to have a good reputation at work, or a certain image within a particular field. You need to maintain your reputation so that people who matter – potential employers, current supervisors, or partners and coworkers – relate your name to positive qualities before they’ve even met you. In the past, we really only needed to seriously worry about this in a professional sense. After all, not many potential connections were going to stumble across your name in the yellow pages. Instead, maybe they’d ask someone in their network about you, or call up a previous manager.
But thanks to today’s global economy and increasingly online world, it’s easy to run a simple Google search to discover all the online information available on a particular name. Regardless of whether or not you find this creepy or a violation of privacy, it’s reality.
Additionally, as more people forego the traditional workforce and strike out on their own with a side business or as freelancers, the Internet has become an increasingly noisy place. As a result, it’s becoming more and more important to create a solid, accurate image – a good personal brand – that will be appealing to anyone who is browsing online and hits upon your information.
Perception is Everything
How people perceive who and how you are can make or break opportunities in your career or business. It doesn’t matter if you work for someone else as an employee or have started to venture out into self-employment: the workplace is incredibly competitive. If you manage your personal brand, you’ll have a leg up on your peers and it will be easier to stay one step ahead of all that competition.
Having a personal brand means you have a presence within your chosen industry. It means you are more than a barely-filled-out LinkedIn profile or a locked-down and totally private Facebook page. When someone Googles your name, multiple social media accounts will pop up, and the latest posts will show that you’re actively engaged in what others in your field are talking about. It means other employees (or entrepreneurs) within an industry network not only know your name, but know what you do, what kind of value you provide, and what you believe in or stand for.
So how to do you go about building your personal brand if you haven’t started yet? First, ask yourself what’s currently out there. Do a Google search on your name – what comes up? Is the information accurate? Are the results even referring to you, or are they all about a different John Smith? Once you get a feel for your relevance and presence online, you can start taking steps to grow it or improve it.
Start with social media accounts. There’s nothing wrong with having other social media platforms that are completely private and for your personal friends and family only. But make sure that’s not the only platform you’re using. For example, if your Facebook account is private, fire up a public Twitter account, follow people in your field, and don’t be afraid to tweet things that are relevant or helpful. This will help you establish a presence online and will also have the added benefit of growing your network.
Consider setting up a website (“yourname.com” is a good idea for a domain) to feature the kind of work you do or want to do. Use it to showcase a portfolio or host case studies of how your efforts have improved a marketing strategy, sales numbers, or conversion rates. And adding a blog to your site is another thing to think about; it’s a good way to ensure you have a way to constantly produce content that’s longer and more in-depth than a social media update.
Once you have some sort of brand in place, you need to manage it. Your goal should be to always add value in whatever arena you’re active in. This will further cement your reputation as someone others want to be around and work with, as it proves you’re knowledgeable, helpful, and willing to work with others. It’s the easiest way to make your name memorable and to create a brand that is recognizable – and in demand.
Editor’s Note: Do you have a personal brand? Interestingly enough, I feel like my Budget Blonde brand evolved all on its own. If you liked Harry’s post, you’ll probably enjoy this one too.