Thanks to the huge popularity of social and digital media, there has never been a better time to brand yourself and create an excellent first impression. After all, you’re doing such an awesome job marketing your company, isn’t it about time you spent a little time marketing yourself?
Among many essential ideas and tips in my new book -- Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps Toward a New Professional You -- are these three crucial components of personal branding to help your brand be more memorable and sharable.
1. Investing in a professional photo.
No doubt you know the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Take this idea to heart, and invest in a professional photo as part of your personal branding strategy. Your profile picture on social media -- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- and your website is going to be the first visual impression you’ll make with a prospective client, employee or employer, so make it count!
You want to create an emotional connection and come across as competent and likable. In this compelling research from Photofeeler, experts say you should aim for photos in which you “squinch,” dress professionally and smile while showing a bit of teeth.
Squinching is a term they use for somewhere between wide-eyed and squinting. You don’t want to look too scary to people and you certainly don’t want to give off the impression that you are shortsighted. Avoid wearing sunglasses, and try not to get too creative. You want the focus to be you and the trustworthy impression you exude. You don’t need any distractions.
2. Think discoverability.
A personal brand loses much -- if not all -- of its value if no one can find you. To that end -- and to save time -- you are probably better off creating one profile for each social media platform you utilize. Research from Nielsen says while just 15 percent of people trust what a brand says, 90 percent will trust the word of a friend, peer or family member. It’s crucial you understand the value of coming across as relatable and human rather than hiding behind a corporate wall.
Remember to use a single account for both personal and professional use, but decide on what I call a “social media ratio” in advance. For example, are you comfortable with a 50/50 split in which half of your posts are primarily personal and half more business-related?
My book, Introduction to Personal Branding, goes in-depth on discoverability, but here are the nuts and bolts. As the paragraph above indicates, use your real name online, go beyond just creating profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and get your name out there by guest blogging, writing articles, speaking at conferences and more. Make sure you are cross-linking your social profiles and articles to maximize SEO discoverability as well.
Keep your online presence dynamic. Don't simply create accounts and a website and let them stagnate. Research what your competitors are doing, and develop a competitive edge online in addition to the messages you’re creating for your products and services.
3. Unique business cards.
Personal branding is not just about how you come across on social media or the internet. When you are at business meetings or networking events, business cards are one way to effectively brand yourself and stand out.
When developing and designing cards, try for the following attributes:
- High-quality texture and tangible weight
- Reader-friendly with clean text – don’t make it too cluttered
- Call to action, such as to connect with you on LinkedIn
When handing over your business cards or receiving them from others, don’t be flippant about it. Be sure to make the encounter memorable. For instance, ask them an offbeat question, or share a remarkable story about yourself or an event in your life that creates some kind of connection.
Personal branding requires you to continue investing in yourself -- and in others. As you go online and out in the world, remember that you must be curious and interested in other people. Engagement is a two-way street. Show your peers and connections what you can do for them. It's that simple!