Personal Branding 101: How to Build a Personal Brand

Personal Branding 101: How to Build a Personal Brand

There are certain terms that you are sure to hear over and over again when seeking career advice. Networking. Career coaching. Personal branding. 

 

It is the last one we want to focus on today - you may have heard it multiple times in the past, but do you truly understand what it means? Do you know the benefits of personal branding, and do you correctly implement it in your professional life? Let’s find out.

 

 

What is personal branding?

 

First of all, let’s begin with defining what building your personal brand even means. Does it only apply to people in a certain field? Is it necessary in your case? Should you do it?

 

No, yes, and definitely!

 

We will use a certain cliche to explain the term - you may have already heard the quote, but Jeff Bezos just summed it up perfectly! “Your personal brand is what others say about you when you leave the room”. As the founder and CEO of Amazon - and as the perfect example of a successful entrepreneur - the author of this quote knew what he was talking about. 

 

In other words, your personal brand explains who you are, what you do, what you believe in, and what values you want to represent. It defines you as a professional, letting potential employers, coworkers, or clients know what they can expect from collaborating with you.


 

Why personal branding is important

 

There is a reason someone as busy as Jeff Bezos stops to comment on the issue of personal branding. Everyone whose name rings a bell to you knows the importance of building a personal brand. Think about anyone who you perceive as your role model - be it Elon Musk, Michael Jackson, or Oprah. 

 

Regardless of what area they operate within - entrepreneurship, showbusiness, politics - there is a certain image that pops up in your head when thinking of their name. Certain actions you associate with them, specific words you would use to describe them. 

 

All of that is their personal brand. Every adjective, achievement, even controversy that comes into mind whenever you hear their name mentioned is part of their own personal branding. 

 

That’s exactly what a personal brand is all about: it is supposed to make you memorable. Without your own distinct presence, without a story behind it, you’re just one of many like you. 

 

You’re a singer equally talented as Beyonce whom the world has never heard about because she didn’t invest enough of her energy into creating a strong personal brand. You’re Mark Zuckerberg whose brilliant new website never made it outside of his dorm room. Lady Gaga who’s never worn the iconic meat dress.

 

See what we mean now? Your personal brand defines you, and everything you do works to define it. Both the good and the bad - it’s a full circle. Now that we know what personal branding is and why it is essential to your career success, let’s move on to finding out how to make sure there’s more of the good than the bad in it. 

 

How to create a strong personal brand 

 

  1. Know yourself. Decide who you are.

 

In order to show the rest of the world who you are and why you’re worth their while, you need to start with yourself. When creating your personal brand, sit down and ask yourself a few questions:

 

  • What do I do?

  • What makes me do it better than others?

  • How do I stand out from the crowd?

  • What image do I want to represent?

  • What are my biggest strengths and how can I use them to my advantage?

  • What are my biggest weaknesses and how can I work on improving them?

 

There is only one rule: you need to be honest with yourself. The key to successful personal branding is sometimes understanding the difference between who you want to be and who you really are. 

 

In order to make sure those two viewpoints don’t merge into one, ask friends or family for help. Answer the questions yourself first, then give the list to someone who knows you very well. If your opinions align - perfect. You have the persona you will build your personal brand around. If not, talk it out. How we see ourselves is very often different from how others see us.


  1. Stay specific

 

When defining your personal brand, the more specific you are, the better. Avoid vague descriptions such as calling yourself a “marketing professional”. Marketing is a broad sphere, man. What is it exactly that you do? Do you work with social media? Run ad campaigns? Create content strategies? Implement SEO techniques? Set budgets? Write copies? 

 

Being as meticulous as possible will act as an initial sieve that will get rid of potential irrelevant requests. Imagine someone who doesn’t know much about marketing with little understanding of how broad of a discipline it is stumbling across your profile. They can’t possibly expect you to be able to do all the things mentioned above, can they? 

 

Similarly, someone looking for a social media manager won’t be satisfied when they find out you’re actually a copywriter who forgot to specify their domain. 

 

If you stay specific, you will be able to use industry-related keywords that will help people looking for you find you much quicker. Time is money!


  1. Be real 

 

Remember Bezos’ quote? “Your personal brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room”. Sadly, we’re not the only ones in control of what is said about us - the people we interact with influence our personal brand as much as we do.

 

This is why, in point 1, we stressed how important it is to discern between who we want to be and who we really are. It’s human nature to see ourselves in a light more or less flattering than it actually is. Neither exaggerating nor underrating your achievements will work in your favour. 

 

If you blow up your skills to epic proportions knowing very well they’re not that amazing - people will find out. And they will tell the world about it.

 

If you try being modest and undersell yourself, potential employers or clients might just not flock to you, and both you and them will miss out on an opportunity for amazing cooperation. 

 

The key is to find balance, and the best way to do it? Staying honest. If you do you, define your personal brand, align it with who you really are and stick to it, no one will be able to accuse you of lying. 


  1. Consistency is key

 

Right. You have defined your brand, asked friends to help, you’re keeping it real and “specific” is your middle name. Great job - you’re sticking to all the golden rules of personal branding we’ve mentioned so far.

 

What could possibly happen to ruin it all in a matter of seconds?

 

Inconsistency.

 

Remember one thing: once you define your personal brand, stick to it. People change and switch careers - that’s all completely normal and we don’t mean to say “stay as you are and don’t you dare change your job”. 

 

What we want to convey is that even if everything around you - including you - changes, the general image behind your personal brand cannot. It must remain immune to drastic shifts in personality, career, and life as a whole.

 

To illustrate it with an example: let’s say a man called Bob is an influencer. He advertises himself as a vegan pacifist whose main goal in life is to fight with fast-fashion brands. But times change, life happens, and Bob can no longer live solely off the revenue he makes off social media. 

 

He goes off to find a job and starts working in Human Resources. He becomes active on LinkedIn, and his focus shifts from the number of weekly posts promoting soft fashion to the number of new employees he’s meant to hire. Bob’s professional goals have changed, but has his personality?

 

Chances are, he’s still vegan, still won’t kill a fly, and, in his free time, still shares content about sustainable lifestyle. Just because he has a different job and different goals doesn’t mean he should start reposting content by a brand widely known for implementing animal testing for its products or a company that’s openly refused to suspend its activity in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. 

 

The basics of what you do can change. The roots of who you are shouldn’t. Even if you alter your beliefs and adopt new values, make sure the change happens smoothly and is definite. The worst thing you can do is allow your “old image” to mix with the “new version” of your personal brand. That would confuse potential collaborators and make you come off as undecided and - essentially - unreliable. 


  1. An online presence is crucial

 

Even if you build an outstanding personal brand, no one will ever hear about it if you don’t advertise it sufficiently. The best way to let the world find you is, of course, going online.

 

Personal branding on social media should be a fixture in your weekly schedule. Building an online presence is a complex process that takes time and effort. One thing to remember is that it must be continuous - good personal branding will be created conscientiously, not in spontaneous bursts of energy. 

 

Everything you do online is part of your personal brand: the way your profiles look, what you publish, what content you engage with. Crafting a stunning profile picture is also essential to making a good impression. And we don’t just mean LinkedIn: these days, background checks are run on all accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. 

 

Therefore, you must be careful about what you share online. Consistency plays a part here as well: your personal brand must be compatible across all social media channels. That means how you present yourself on Instagram cannot be much different from who you claim to be on LinkedIn.

 

Of course, the form itself will be different. You won’t post your party pictures on LinkedIn, just like you wouldn’t set your elevator pitch as your About Me section on Instagram. Different social media channels have different purposes, but the person behind each of them must be the same. 

 

For example, you wouldn’t post a picture of yourself devouring a ribeye steak on Facebook, at the same time claiming you’re vegetarian on Instagram. While LinkedIn itself is not much of a space to share your personal details such as your dietary preferences, saying you’re a professional individual there and sharing videos of you doing a keg stand on a public Instagram profile under your full name could get someone wondering. 

 

People like to party - it’s normal. Nobody expects anyone to walk around in a suit and tie 24/7. It’s totally fine to post pictures of you having fun on the social media; recruiters and clients will want to see you as a human being. Just make sure that if your content is more on the wilder side, you adjust your settings and set your accounts to private. 


  1. Building a personal brand is a constant work in progress

 

The expression “to build your personal brand” might be misleading. It could make someone believe that once you build it, it’s done. Sadly, a personal brand is not a house.

 

Just like we keep developing, it should constantly evolve with us. An effective personal branding strategy should assume a constant, conscious effort. We tend to favour certain social media channels over others, and will naturally be more active there.

 

While that’s okay, and in your free time you should definitely focus on whatever brings you joy, you should dedicate a few minutes to activity on the less frequented accounts. 

 

Avoid intense streaks of posting three times a day for a week, and then going MIA for a full month. Sharing a post, creating your own, or dropping a comment once or twice a week but doing it regularly will bring better results. Don’t adopt a schedule that will overwhelm you - adjust it so that you can easily fit it around your other professional activities. 


  1. Draw inspiration from others

 

If you play football, there are definitely big players you admire and try to learn from. If you’re an aspiring writer, you read books by your favourite authors and try to style your own style after them. 

 

It’s the same with personal branding.

 

Even knowing who you are and what you represent, you will need guidance on how to properly express it. Personal branding experts are all the people whose names you recognise - every personality you follow and admire, in any domain. 

 

Think about your personal role models. Who do you agree with? Who do you look at thinking: “man, I’d love to be them”? Whose posts do you always repost, like, or comment on? That’s the person you agree with, who probably creates a successful personal brand, similar to what you’d like your own to be like. 

 

Even if they operate within a different domain, there are still certain personal branding tips you can draw from their image, a common ground you can find with your own activity. By “drawing inspiration”, we don’t mean “copying”. No two people on Earth are exactly the same, and in the end, you are you, but it’s always beneficial to take lessons from someone who you perceive as successful in a certain area. 
 


 

Those are the very basics of personal branding. The topic as a whole is incredibly deep, and if we’ve managed to spark your interest, we recommend diving deeper into it! With this introduction to personal branding, you can start creating your own personal brand, but there’s so much more you can do to grow it into something amazing!

 


 

Feeling inspired? Visit our blog for more career advice! How can you be sure the information we provide is top-notch? We are a group of professionals working with recruiters, career coaches, and HR specialists from all over the world! 

Trust our experience and let us help you find a new job in Europe!

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