In the age of social media, every professional has the opportunity to build and grow a strong personal brand. Like a corporate brand, your personal brand tells the world exactly what you stand for and showcases your skills and expertise.
Many experts advise just being yourself when you’re determining what your brand should be, but a lot more thought and effort go into successfully branding yourself. We asked 12 members of Forbes Coaches Council for their best-kept personal branding secrets. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Choose To Take The Stage
We’re on stage every day, whether it’s an executive meeting, client interaction, social media conversation or podcast interview. Every interaction is an opportunity to inspire others to believe in our ideas. First, we must choose to take the stage to be seen and heard. If we don’t, we risk going unnoticed, losing credibility or not being recognized as a leader worth following. – Michela Quilici, MQ Consulting and Business Training Inc.
2. Make It All About Others
Really listen to people’s hopes and dreams, and when you can, help make them happen. Do it quietly and behind the scenes, and when possible, work with someone within the person’s circle to bring it all together. When the legwork is done, you and the friend present it to the person in a meaningful way. The result is two new brand ambassadors who are ready to shout your name from the rooftops. – Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Leading Through Living Community
3. Follow Through On Your Words
I overheard someone talking to another person at a meeting. They pointed at me and said, “That guy always follows through, so ask him.” I’m certain that next to nobody, including me, regardless of intention, follows through on every promise, word or deed, but having that reputation precede you is something to aspire to. It’s perhaps the smartest brand-building move you can make. – John M. O’Connor, CareerPro Inc.
4. Say No To Anything That Doesn’t Align With Your Brand
One frequently overlooked but tremendously important element of personal branding is the power of saying no. Your personal branding efforts aren’t just about what you do; they’re equally about what you don’t do about opportunities that don’t align with your core branding message. Next time something doesn’t align with your message, just say no. – Tim Windhof, Windhof Career Services
5. Build Up Your LinkedIn Presence
Most professionals know that LinkedIn is a great tool for personal branding, but they underestimate the impact it has on shaping their brand. As a LinkedIn user, you control the content on your page. The text you choose in your headline, summary and job descriptions, as well as your connections and your strategically curated recommendations, add up to a well-manicured, impressive personal brand. – Scott Singer, Insider Career Strategies
6. Use Content Marketing To Become Known As An Expert
Publicize your ideas in the media to advance your company’s agenda. Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson are great examples of people who use the media to promote their personal brands. They get their messages out through business publications, podcasts, videos and tweets, which have huge followings. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired LLC
7. Understand Yourself
You are your brand. Make time to look inward and understand just who you are. What are your strengths, and how do you use them to grow and excel? Where are your challenges? How can you use your challenges as opportunities for growth and learning? How can you get out of your way? Most importantly, do you believe you’re worthy? Own your worth; own yourself. – Lynda Reid, Kusala LLC
8. Define Your Core Values
In the same way that company brands are aligned around three to five core values, so too is a highly effective personal brand. If your most important values are respect, creativity and agility, how can you express these in what you do, what you say, how you behave and even what you wear? As you align around these core values, you’ll be amazed as you start hearing people use these words to describe you. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy
9. Be Consistent
When behavior is incongruent with brand messaging, people distrust the brand. For example, if the brand message is that someone is a top-notch sales professional, but their profiles have typos and they appear disheveled all the time, the brand is incongruent, and people will be confused. Confusion sabotages brands and leads to mistrust. Consistent behavior over time builds reputations. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group
10. Develop Your Nonverbal Presence
We unconsciously assess each other’s presence, making judgments in milliseconds, before words are spoken. Our bodies and brains pick up on subtle cues like awareness, connection, focus and intention, sensing how present another person is with us in each moment. Our presence rings true through attempts to dress it up. To improve your brand, develop your presence with the people you care to impact. – Tom Hardison, Generative Leadership Group LLC
11. Be Approachable
Personal branding is about what others say and think about you, not what you think about yourself. Your brand speaks volumes when you’re not around, so always put your best foot forward and be your authentic self. Make space for people to approach and interact with you naturally. Creating a space that’s judgment-free and welcoming is essential when leaving a lasting impression. – Jacqueline Mitchell, CJ Matthews Consulting
12. Be True To Who You Are
The most effective personal branding tip is to be true to who you are. Standing in your power and being authentic creates certainty for people about what they can expect from you. When you project a brand that’s misaligned with your values, it’s difficult to sustain. Clients and the public will see right through it. To differentiate yourself, be the unique you that only you can be. – India Gary-Martin, Leadership For Life