Do people in your industry know your name and see you as a leader? If not, do you want them to?
If the answer is no on both counts, consider this: do your clients, both current and prospective, know what values you strive to uphold in your business?
Whether you realize it or not, you have a personal brand. Developing it is one way to make connections in your field, enhance your career and attract more clients.
But let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: personal branding isn’t about putting yourself on a pedestal just for the sake of tooting your own horn. It’s about knowing who you are and who you want to become, and then actively taking strides to develop yourself. You just happen to make parts of the journey public to keep yourself accountable and to welcome new opportunities.
Ready to get started?
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You Need a Website…
Your website will be where much of the magic happens. And yes, you need a proper website, not one with a .blogspot.com extension or something similar.
Ideally your name will be your domain name. If you have a common name, differentiate your site with a word that sums up your industry, like johndoepainter.com. Or, choose a location-specific top level domain, like .eu domain names. Try to avoid numbers and dashes, which take too much time to explain (i.e., “Four like the number four, not spelled out. Get it??”).
…But You Need a Gorgeous Website
A website is the ultimate first impression. You prepare to make a good first impression in an interview by wearing the right outfit, doing your hair and makeup, and practicing a firm handshake. Prepare your website to give a great first impression by making sure the theme and design look top-notch, that everything is easy to navigate, and that there are no serious spelling or grammar blunders to be found.
If you’re already nervous, don’t be. You can buy professional themes from the WordPress marketplace or hire someone to make a custom theme for you. It’s also wise to hire someone to proofread your site. Don’t feel like you have to tackle this yourself. Spending money on a website is an expense that should pay for itself if it leads to a new client. And you may be able to deduct the cost from your taxes since it is a business-related expense.
Decide What You Want to Be Associated With
It’s time to think about what kind of vibe your personal brand will give off. Think about your dream testimonial. What do you wish people said about your work? Or look at your current testimonials. What are people already saying? Sometimes we don’t realize what sets us apart. We might take it for granted that everyone handles their business a certain way, but your clients might tell you that you are the only one who does x, y or z, and they love you for it.
Think about the different facets of your job. There is likely a need for people of all temperaments and talents. Take lawyers, for example: would you want to be known as a very aggressive lawyer, or a lawyer who is able to work with families and children? Or journalists: would you want to be known for your on-the-ground reporting of breaking news, or for conducting extensive research and writing long-form exposés?
Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you need to consider: Are you attentive to your clients or do you kick them to the curb as soon as another one comes along? Do you want people to use words like honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and confidentiality when they describe you? Are you on the cutting-edge of your industry? Are you fearless about doing things that your peers might not do? Do you mentor people or make charitable contributions?
All of these traits will set you apart.
Now Tell the World About What Makes You Different
Next, you’ll have to populate your website with some blog posts. Choose to write about topics that help other people. Demonstrate your expertise and all the wonderful traits that set you apart by writing about anecdotes, providing detailed answers to tough questions, and by conducting yourself in accordance with your values and goals.
For example, if you value your cool, even temperament, don’t write riled-up blog posts blasting someone who disagrees with you. That paints an entirely different picture of you and of your personal brand.
Developing a personal brand is an ongoing process. The above tips should help you get started. Once you’re all set up, leverage social media accounts where your peers hang out. Participate in conferences and webinars. Be patient and keep taking steps forward when you can. Good personal branding can pay off when you least expect it, but when it does, you’ll be glad you put in the work when you did.