The concept of branding has long been synonymous with large corporates and businesses, but today every individual that spends time online has a personal brand. In South Africa, a shockingly small amount of high level executives and other professionals have consciously developed or refined their personal brands, but we are slowly picking up the pace to match our Western and European counterparts.
In short, a personal brand sums up who you are, your achievements, what you do and why you do it. It’s how you showcase your value and establish your expertise. Personal branding has become a fundamental requirement for any individual looking to grow or expand their business, get noticed by the media, take their career to the next level or to create networking opportunities.
The Media Clique uses a brand matrix to identify critical areas of personal branding an individual need to focus on. These areas can vary between or include - reputation management; personal executive presence; thought leadership and content management.
First things first, get a Professional Personal Website
Having a personal website is an excellent way to rank your name on search engines. The website can be rich and extensive or be limited to one or two pages. Most importantly, it should include your CV, link to all your social media accounts, company website and or blog and include a biography. If you have featured in the media or have related PR content, it is essential that all articles related to you are linked to your personal website – this will not only enhance SEO (search engine optimisation) but ensure that the content you wish to push about yourself ranks at the top.
You have to audit your online presence and the status of your current personal brand before you can establish your future strategy. Do a vanity search on Google (google yourself) and setup Google alerts with your name. You might be surprised at what you find. Most of our clients are ill-informed about the data search engines collect and many a job-hunter’s CV have been pushed aside due to comments, posts or responses made online. Look at your permissions and ensure that your public profile showcases nothing of a personal or unflattering nature.
Personal Executive Presence
Start positioning yourself as a brand – what is your aspirations, your mission, your values and how do you align yourself with them? When we’re assisting clients with their personal brand we do our best to find out what their purpose is and highlight it across their website/s and online profiles. Personal executive presence excellence is achieved by having a clear vision and being able to motivate, communicate and inspire others to share in your ideals. They key is to ensure your value, drive and purpose is brought to the front.
To establish yourself as a thought leader requires strategic planning and solid execution. By interpreting your aspirations, mission and vision you will be able to decide which area you want to “own” or dominate and how to reach others within that area. You have to be accessible as a source to the media and actively participate on forums and other online platforms. Publish relevant articles if possible or appoint an agency to assist with copywriting and take a stand on topics related to your interests, niche area or industry. Personal Branding is not about showing off, it’s about making the best possible impression online and in the public sphere before you network, interview, meet or have any communication – it is something you can’t go without.
Share your thoughts and insights with the public to contribute to your personal brand. This could be in any form you are most comfortable with, from speaking at conferences to attending seminars and round-table events or blogging. But ensure that the content is managed properly and that it gets the appropriate visibility to bring about the desired impact. Your content should be easily accessible, discoverable and shareable. The Media Clique focusses on highly strategic, SEO-optimised headlines and content to increase exposure.
Remember, every tweet, every status update, article posted and comment made contributes and becomes part of your personal brand. As you gain an understanding of how the multitude of your daily, weekly and monthly online actions impacts your professional online image, you can become more strategic and leverage your strengths to ultimately define your personal brand.