I have spent months (and quite possibly years) thinking of the perfect name for a business which really encompasses all that I do, with no such luck, simply because I do so much in different industries. But then it dawned on me… why am I trying to create a brand that defines me? Why do I want another name to precede my reputation when I can use my name to brand myself. I already had the domain, so why not?
So the big question is how do you self brand?
It’s not as easy as it sounds. If you have never done the whole internal “Who am I” searching, prepare to do a lot of it now. Who am I? What do I do? What do I want to portray? If you don’t know who you are, as most people actually don’t, then you’re in for a trip. Asking relatives and close friends to describe you in a few words really helps you to get to know what other people think of you. Remember that your self impression is how people perceive you. For instance, if you come off as ingenuine, people will think you’re full of BS. So, its good to get to know what people really think of you as a person, and as a professional.
What do you do?
Literally… what do you do? List all your skills and talents, and look at where you want to be. Where are the missing links between what you do and where you want to be? Fill in those missing links with short courses, and other forms of education. Honestly, education is the most important factor in business, but we’ll discuss that in another article.You want people to think that you’re successful. Everyone wants that, and they all want it to be true. But not all people can actually sustain the effort long enough to make it happen. You have a responsibility to your career when you’re self-branding.
Perception and image is everything.
You have to watch everything you post, everything you say, where you go, what you do. Instantly, eyes fall on you. Or at least it feels that way. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot have a personal opinion. You can, you just have to be careful whose toes you’re stepping on and if they might affect business later on. Basically, watch your mouth. You are your brand, you are your company and you have to respect your brand as you would with any other brand. Your brand is your career, it’s your bread and butter, and you should protect it as such.
So all the social networking posts about how you hate your job and your boss is a big no no. Remember that everything on the internet remains somewhere on the internet. Think before you post!
Given that you are the brand you represent, image is key. Your fashion sense will leave a visual impression on people, and although you should never judge a book by its cover, people usually do. Try to dress maturely and professionally as often as possible. This does not mean you wear a business suit to the beach. Instead of a lousy tee with worn jeans and flip flops, try a polo teeshirt, proper jeans and a nice pair of shoes. You never know where you will meet someone who will play a major role in your future career.
I will never forget the times where I have met key business people on the days where I looked like CRAP. I mean, my hair was a mess, I was not wearing any make up at all (not like I need anyway) and my wardrobe that day looked like I borrowed clothes from a homeless guy. Those are the days when you’re not feeling like leaving the house but you have to, and you decide that no one will see you anyway, so you put on your worst. Believe me, the universe will ensure that you will meet KEY people that day. So always leave the house looking your best, even if you don’t feel it.
Remember to moisturise your hands, both men and women. Your hands are the first place of physical contact, and no one wants to shake a rough calloused hand.
Who are you targeting?
It might sound obvious, but you would be surprised with how many people actually miss this step. It will save you time in the long run by knowing who you’re targeting. When you define your target market you can define where your target market is. In this digital age, nearly everyone is on some form of social network, that is, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. However, you will need to determine which network they are on. You will need to determine what other forms of advertising you are going to utilise. I’ll have to do a write up about advertising later on.Social media is the central place to be networking, but it has to be done right to be successful. You have the major ones that you should be utilising:
- Personal Portfolio + Blog
Start by cleaning up your existing social networks and making them look professional. Remember that you are your brand, and you have to be professional 24/7. If your Facebook wall is a mess of half naked selfies and drunk status updates, I would suggest changing your privacy settings and cleaning everything up. Same goes for Twitter. Hopefully, your LinkedIn profile should be clean and professional. Keep the personal posts off the networks you want to promote professionally. My professional social networks of choice are LinkedIn, and Twitter. My Facebook account has been personal for a while, and removing all the photos and hiding all the posts would take forever. So, I’ve changed the security settings, and I’ve left that to connect with close friends and family.
In this digital age we live in, you have to have a professional portfolio website. WordPress is simple, easy and works out of the box. It works well for a simple, clean website and it can be easily customized. I promise to write a step by step about how to set up a WordPress portfolio website.
Blogging allows people to see if you’re really capable of doing what you say you do. Insider information, past experiences and knowledge is what people look for in a blog. Keep in mind that prospects are reading your blog, and no one wants to hear about your cat (mine has been looking for attention by walking on the keyboard since I started writing this article). It also generates traffic to your portfolio, and I know that portfolios don’t generate much traffic, unless it’s the motherload of all portfolios. A neat little trick to get even more traffic is buy making videos and uploading them to Youtube, You can then share these videos and embed them into articles.
So remember, watch your mouth, respect your brand, dress nicely, keep personal posts off your professional pages, build a portfolio website and start a blog.
All in a days work.