How to Grow Your Personal Brand Online

In its beginning stages, social media was widely perceived by employers as a distraction from productivity. So much so that companies used to deny employees access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In recent years, however, there has been a shift in the way that we utilize social media. It’s not just for posting funny jokes or sharing pictures of friends and family, it’s a powerful tool for both personal branding and company branding. Employers have realized that employees are their brand’s biggest ambassadors and that what they share online can significantly impact how the company is perceived. This has prompted many employers to embrace their employees’ personal brands, rather than discourage them from having one at all.

Whether you’re an employee of a company or an entrepreneur, you are a brand and the stronger your brand is, the more opportunities you can expose yourself to. A strong personal brand can help you land a new job, get a promotion, and create opportunities such as freelance work or speaking engagements. In order to have a strong personal brand, you have to have a visible presence online. Here’s how to get started:

Search your name. Type your name into Google and see what pops up on both the pages and under “Images.” If you have a common name, you may not even show up on the search engine results but don’t worry- by adding a middle name, middle initial, or geographic location, you can differentiate yourself from the others.

Claim your name.  Many people like to be known by their given birth name online but if you have a name that’s difficult to spell or is a longer last name, you can shorten it to make it easier for people to find you and remember you or, as stated in the first step, add your middle name or middle initial. Once you determine the name that you’ll use online, you’ll want to purchase the url for your name and use the same name for your social media handles. Even if you’re not active on those social media platforms but plan to be, you should still create your profile before someone else takes your username. This can be tricky- since personal branding is so popular, a lot of urls and usernames are already taken so try different variations of your name but try to keep a consistent username on all platforms.

Build a website. Your website doesn’t have to be as robust as a company website. I suggest starting with a one-pager, which could include your bio, resume, and some examples of your work. If you’re building the website yourself, I recommend Squarespace but if you have coding experience, you should choose WordPress. Once you have your website up and running, you may want to start an industry-related blog that provides the latest trends and tips within your field.

Introduce Yourself. In addition to your username being consistent on all platforms, your description or bio should be, too. Your bio should tell your audience who you are and what you like to do. It doesn’t have to be so serious, either, just make sure it’s true to who you are. You can include where you work and a hobby, or what you do for a living and who you are as a person.

Clean up your social media profiles. This can be a somewhat cringe-worthy task but is essential when building your personal brand. Take time to go through old photos, tweets, and posts, and delete the ones that you may not want people to see and read. I once heard someone say, “If you wouldn’t want it on a billboard with your name attached, don’t post it on social media.” I refer to that often when I post, and you should, too!

Create an online portfolio and display your work and knowledge. LinkedIn is ideal for posting accomplishments and publishing articles. For establishing yourself as a thought-leader in your industry, Twitter is one of the most optimal platforms.

Share your passion. Recruiters and your peers want to know who you are outside of what your career is. Whether it’s a passion like writing, a hobby such as running, or you like to spend your time volunteering, don’t be hesitant to share it. This shows your authenticity and makes it easier for people to want to connect with you.

Speaking of connecting….

Connect with people on social media. One of the key ways to connect with people on social media is to just be social! Share other people’s posts, tweet to people you’d like to get in touch with, and engage. You never know what opportunities can come from it. LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and Twitter chats, are all ways that you can connect with like-minded people and expand your network.

By guest blogger, Stefanie C. Mitchell 

Stefanie C. Mitchell is a Digital Marketing Specialist with S. Mitchell Marketing. She creates effective marketing strategies and utilizes online tools to build, grow, and promote brands. Stefanie is the Chief Curator of Social Lites, an online blog that offers insights and shares the latest tips and trends in the marketing industry.