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Perception is Everything – 4 Tips for Personal Branding

Written By: langdon on January 5, 2010 One Comment

Perception is Everything – 4 Tips for Personal Branding

Personal branding, whether on or offline, is an interesting concept, yet one that has existed for centuries – Napoleon Bonaparte had a personal brand, so did King Louis XVI. The Internet has only made this a more common phenomenon. If you’re reading this post, the chances are that you have, at least once, Googled yourself? Yes, an assumption, but likely, an accurate one. That said, not everyone is a brand or has one. The world is full of people whose careers and lives are not dependent on them becoming well known for their achievements in their industries. There are however, a great number of people for whom this is the case. For people who want or need a personal brand, here are some things to think about:

1. Define Your Brand (as it is currently and what you want it to be)

Everyone has a pretty good idea of how they’d like people to perceive them, although there can be a cataclysmic divide between how we want to be seen and how people actually see us. Think of that greasy guy you took a class with at varsity or have seen at the gym – he thought he was pretty slick – you thought he was an arrogant fool. If having a personal brand is important to you, you need to define it and then be the driving force behind it. If you are wishing to brand yourself as a field expert in the identification of obscure superheroes or in the tactical aspects of lawnmower repair, you still need to understand how your target market and your competitors see you. Firstly, analyse how people see you – ask your friends and colleagues to describe you honestly in 3 words and compare them to the 3 words you used to describe yourself. Once you have a clear understanding of the way you portray yourself to the world, you need to select the areas that need to change and then establish ways of changing them.

2. Make Use of Social Media Profiles

Social Media offers an excellent portal for personal branding. It is the ideal way to shape perceptions of yourself, particularly to acquaintances and strangers who may have not yet formed a concrete opinion of you. Because you choose what is revealed, it is easy to highlight the things by which you wish to be characterised. Social media also offers an opportunity for generating content. This might be exceptionally useful if you’re wishing to let people in on the fact that you are the guru of all things lawnmower or superhero related. If you are a little-known specialist, this is also a good way to increase your search rankings and grow brand awareness. If people continually see your name coming up in the SERPS when searching for information on said lawnmowers or superheroes, these will be the things with which your name will become associated.

3. Manage Your Reputation

It is important to remember that it’s not enough to merely shape the way in which you want people to see you. If there are conversations online around your personal brand, it is important that you are a part of them and that you are engaging with the people who are talking about you, regardless of whether or not they are complimentary. Knowing what people are saying is the first step. Keeping an eye on your Google CV is advisable – how many times have you typed someone else’s name into Google to find out more about them? If you’ve done it, the chances are that at least one person has done it to you. For many people, this will tell them everything that they need to know and if it isn’t pretty, you’re unlikely to be invited to speakat the International Convention of Lawnmower and Garden Equipment Professionals. Tools like Google Alerts or BrandsEye can help you track these discussions as well as ones that don’t do as well on the SERPS but could still have an impact on your reputation.

4. Practice Continuity

In company brands, consistency is key and there’s no reason why this should be any different for personal brands. You need to live and breathe your brand 24/7, in every interaction and communication. This is good motivation for choosing a sustainable brand that you will still want to be associated with in a few years time. Pick a consistent theme, tone and trademark and use it on everything from your email signature, your blog, your social media profiles, your business cards and your letterheads. This will ensure that people absorb and internalise your brand message and learn to associate you with your offering, regardless of what it may be.

At the end of the day, many of us already have personal brands. The difference is that some of us have brands we have created for ourselves, while others have inadvertently become brands. The latter can be dangerous and if you’re a prominent person in any industry, it is better to pre-empt this situation.

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