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How to brand yourself for success

Who are you? What do you represent? What do you stand for? The answer to these questions is part of your personal brand. 

Why personal branding is important

Your personal brand is your skills, experience and personality. It includes your background, your heritage and reflects your behaviour and attitudes. 

Before social media, only people who met you personally knew anything about you. Now anyone can go on LinkedIn and get your entire professional profile. That’s good if they are offering you a great job. That’s bad if they then go on Twitter and discover opinions that don’t align with the company.

So, why would they care? Simply because if they hire you, you will be associated with their brand. The trend is towards personalising businesses by putting their employee’s interests and hobbies on their ‘meet our staff’ page. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t Google you.

Follow your digital footprint

What is on the Internet never goes away. It can always be found and pulled into the light.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of a tweet or photo that ruins a career. Think it won’t happen to you? Hmmmm, it might. Look through your photos, past posts and comments. How would they look and sound to a potential employer?

Ask someone objective to go through your social media feeds to point out any issues and be ready to scrub anything questionable. But … it may live on. Have an explanation ready just in case.

But your political stance has nothing to do with your job, so why can’t you express an opinion? If you are concerned, consider setting up separate private social media accounts and professional public ones.

Maximise your LinkedIn presence

LinkedIn is your online CV. It’s professional you on a platter for the world to see, and employers often use it to headhunt and look up interviewees. To aid them in this search, use strong keywords in your personal description, summary and job titles.

Imagine someone only has time to read the personal descriptions. Is yours a fluffy, rambling, jargon-filled mess? Or is it snappy, full of stats and facts about your most significant professional accomplishments? Take the time to really sell yourself properly. Make sure you keep your page updated not just when you change jobs but when you speak at conferences, complete a professional course or have an article published.

Photos are essential too. Your profile image doesn’t have to be a professional studio shot. Still, it should be clear, smiling, show a full-frontal face and shoulders, but whatever you do, avoid using Snapchat or Instagram filters — it could come across as unprofessional.

So, your page is ready, and you are ready to socialise virtually. Now what?

Join LinkedIn groups and be an active and respectful participant in discussions. Connect with people in your industry and engage with their content. That way, you already have a connection when you hopefully meet them face-to-face.

But remember LinkedIn is your professional-self, so don’t write anything you wouldn’t say openly in public.

Your personal brand is what makes you unique. Make sure it reflects you as clearly, concisely and professionally as possible.