Here’s a question for all of you as we celebrate the arrival of yet another new decade.
Here’s a question that I’d like to pose to you.
When is the best time for you to start building your personal brand?
- When you’re looking for a new job;
- When you’re looking to start a business;
- When you experience some career instability; or
- When you are still gainfully employed
If your answer to the above question is a), b), or c), well I’ve got news for you. You’re probably too late to tap on your personal brand to assist you in pivoting to a new career or business.
As the saying goes, the best time to build your personal brand was 10 years ago. The second-best time is now.
4 Reasons Not to Build Your Personal Brand
There are a thousand reasons why you couldn’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t invest time and energy to build your personal brand.
Here are four of the most common objections to personal branding that I’ve heard.
#1 I Don’t Have the Time
Sure you do. Just look at how many episodes of “Game of Thrones” you have watched on Netflix.
Simply replace your online TV time with your online CV time, and voila!
The trick here is to do it one baby step at a time. And to use your downtime to chip away at your personal branding endeavour. One small and tiny piece at a time.
#2 I’m Afraid My Colleagues or Bosses will Know
Ah, the age-old “I don’t want anybody to think that I am looking for a new job” concern that any respectable employee would have.
This isn’t unexpected. After all, if you suddenly start updating your LinkedIn profile, or record and produce YouTube videos offering “10 ways to improve your personal finances,” somebody is sure to notice.
But look on the bright side. If you pay more attention to how you’re being profiled online (and offline), wouldn’t it also help your current organisation to shine?
#3 I’ll Wait till I’m Less Busy…
…which means that you may never get down to doing it.
Let’s face it. We’re all busy. There are a-thousand-and-one things that can occupy our time.
If finding a dream job or opening yourself up to new opportunities (or better opportunities in your current firm) is a priority, then you need to make time to do this.
#4 I Suck at Writing (or Talking to a Camera)
While creating regular content does help you to build your personal brand, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a wordsmith or a Hollywood film producer.
What’s more important is to practice. And practice.
Besides, what we do want to hear is your natural authentic voice, not a stilted, pretend-to-be-professional piece.
Why Personal Branding is Important
So now that I’ve (hopefully) debunked the reasons for you not to start building your online brand, my next goal is to nudge you towards taking action.
There are several reasons why you should start to build your personal brand online.
#1 Improve Your Search Profiles
What do you get when you google your name? If nothing appears – or worse, something cringeworthy – it probably means that you need to start paying attention to your online brand.
Instead of just documenting your party-life, why not record your professional perspective on an issue that is close to your heart? Do also pay close attention to your online profiles – we’re talking about your LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, Instagram and Twitter bios here.
#2 Enhance Your Company and Career Standing
Sometimes, boosting your online credence can also help your current employer. In fact, I’ve often preached that the best advocates for a company are its employees.
Use your online platforms to share what you do in your company (subject to confidentiality reasons of course). Focus on the positives, and keep your negative experiences to yourself.
Doing so helps you to attract like-minded folks while helping to build both your personal and company brand – a truly win-win arrangement.
#3 Generate Leads and Opportunities
In the digital age, being visible online can help you to stand out in a sea of potential candidates for hire.
For business owners, this makes both you and your company more prominent and trusted to prospects. For employees, having a robustly curated online brand helps both you and your firm to stand out when potential clients shortlist their vendors.
#4 Expand Your Horizons
One of the most amazing things that I’ve personally experienced is this:
Building your personal brand can bring you places.
Sometimes, the opportunities which open before you can be so incredibly rich and amazing that they can blow your mind.
How to Start Building Your Personal Brand
If you are raring to go in the personal branding department, here are five immediate steps which you can take.
#1 Craft your Brand Narrative
Your personal brand narrative acts like a personal quest which drives you to do what you do. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is my backstory – the string of events, people and happenings which shaped my worldview?
- What change do I want to spark in the world?
- What do I find personally meaningful and fulfilling?
PS – The best personal brand narratives normally contains a blend of professional competence with personal conviction.
#2 Choose Your Platforms
Next, consider which platforms you should focus on, and how you’ll build them.
Consider where your content hub would be – a website, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, Pinterest profile or Facebook page? Think about your optics and where and how your audiences are likely to find you.
#3 Establish a Content Cadence
Schedule writing, filming, photography and other content creation activities in your calendar. Make these timeslots almost sacrosanct.
One of the best ways to do so is to spend an hour each evening or 2 hours on a weekend doing so. Or you can break up your activities into daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly tasks.
#4 Find Your Tribe
Community, community, community!
No person is an island. Building your personal brand can become daunting, and it helps to have a group of like-minded peers around you.
Beyond finding people with similar interests, you should also consider how you can help each other out.
#5 Make it a Lifestyle Habit
Perhaps most importantly, you should consider personal branding an effective habit (borrowing from the lexicon of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits).
Weave it naturally into your daily lifestyle. Think about how you project yourself not just online but offline.
Having said that, it is important not to let your personal branding habits be obsessive-compulsive. Remember to weave in some downtime for yourself, and schedule time to unplug and go off-the-grid once in a while.
Starting Planting the Seeds Now
Like any endeavour worth pursuing, building your personal brand is a long-term pursuit.
It doesn’t just happen automatically at the snap of your fingers (Thanos isn’t real). And it does require you to commit your time, energy, and attention to doing so each day.
However, investing in your personal brand could be the best career and lifestyle building move you can make.