When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile?
If you’re like most people, your profile has probably stayed the same since your last job change or since you first set up your account.
Personal brand related tasks like checking your presence in search results and updating your social media profiles to reflect new accomplishments tend to be relegated to the “important but not urgent” category of to-do’s that we’ll get to “someday”.
We’ve put together this list of personal brand resolutions to help you and your team make sure “someday” isn’t delayed indefinitely.
New year’s resolutions get a bad rap, bringing to mind people signing up for gym memberships on January 1st, only to give up on their fitness plans come February (or January 2nd).
How can you and your team stick to your personal brand fitness goals this year?
The first step is understanding the “why” behind building and maintaining a strong personal brand.
For your company, the benefits of employee personal branding extend across your Sales, Marketing, and HR departments.
To get your team on board, however, employees have to understand what’s in it for them – beyond the satisfaction of helping their employer achieve their business goals.
Many companies think a personal branding program simply consists of getting their employees to share company content on their personal social media profiles.
Regarding your employees’ online presence as just an additional marketing channel is a flawed approach that won’t get buy in from the very group whose involvement the program depends on: your employees.
We’ve written several posts about how to set up a personal branding program at the company level, this one focuses on how individuals can build their personal brands.
By following the resolutions outlined below, most of which you only have to do once or a few times per year, you can experience the professional benefits of building a strong personal brand.
Pass this article along to your team to help your coworkers build their own online presence, and help your company experience the benefits of building their employees’ personal brands.
1. Where Do You Want To Go? Define Your Personal Brand Goals
Imagine the person you want to be one year from now.
This might sound like vision board making new age kookery, but there is science behind the merits of visualization.
“Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!”
If you don’t take an active role in deciding what you want for your life, you will be destined to repeat the same habits and behaviors as yesterday. With this approach, the person you will be one year from now will be mostly the same as who you are today.
No doubt, you will have new achievements behind you — after all, your job will keep you accountable to your work-related goals. Similarly, accomplishments that fall into the “important but not urgent” category, like fitness and personal branding goals, can be achieved only if you keep yourself accountable to them.
Write down your goals for one year from now, and you can start to define the steps that will get you there.
Include both professional and personal goals, since a good life requires a balance between both. In the same way, a strong online presence showcases your work-related expertise while including a human element that makes you more memorable and relatable to others.
2. Where Have You Been? Craft Your Personal Brand Story
“It turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life.” Steve Jobs
Successful people tend to be in the habit of looking at their failures as lessons. They assimilate “failures” into their life story as necessary stepping stones that led them to where they are today.
Crafting your narrative is not deceptive, but necessary for framing your life story to yourself and others in a positive way that is conducive to achieving your goals.
Write a brief biography that summarizes what you’ve done and how it led you to your current situation.
This will help you describe yourself to people you meet in person (at networking events, sales pitches, interviews, etc.) and present a consistent biography online (on your social media profiles, company website, etc.)
3. How Do You Come Across Online? Audit and Improve Your Presence in Search Results
People are searching for you on Google: do you know what they’ll find?
On a regular basis (every 2-3 months), search for your name, and combinations of your name plus location, industry, company, and other relevant terms.
Auditing your digital presence as it currently stands is the first step to taking control of your personal brand online.
Since 90% of people never venture beyond the first page of search results, the ten links that appear on this page are the most important for your personal brand.
If you see content that you don’t want others to find, you can contact the website and ask to get the content removed; request that Google de-index the site in question; or try to crowd the link off the first page with good content that helps build your personal brand.
Doing this can be as simple as adding strategic keywords to your social media profiles, sharing more content on these platforms, or creating accounts on new social media sites.
Google’s algorithm places heavy weight on social media websites, and the more active you are on these platforms the higher your profile will rank in search results.
Refer to your goals from the first resolution and this list of the top social platforms to determine which social networks will be most conducive to helping you build your personal brand.
4. Establish Your Expertise: Get in the Habit of Regularly Sharing Content
People spend an average of 1.72 hours per day on social media websites.
Consider how you’re spending this time: are you passively browsing Facebook and sighing at oversharers, clicking on click bait that adds nothing to your life?
Reconsider your online habits this year and try to allocate at least part of this time to being active on social media in a way that helps build your personal brand.
Refer to our blog posts on how to make a process for regularly sharing professional content on social media and how to write and format your posts to maximize engagement.
Get in the habit of sharing original content that you’ve created and/or third party content from other experts in your field.
Writing your own thought leadership pieces is more time consuming, but it carries more value in terms of helping you build your personal brand.
Consider publishing your original content on platforms like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, which allow you to reach the large audiences that use these websites while foregoing the hassle of managing your own personal website or blog.
Curate relevant third party content using a tool like the Kredible Share Center, which compiles the latest articles about your company and industry and lets you seamlessly share them to your social networks.
Recognize the original source of the third party content by tagging or mentioning them in your posts, helping you build strategic relationships while giving credit where it’s due.
5. Build Relationships: Make New Connections, Reconnect with Old Ones
Don’t just use your social platforms as outlets for sharing content. Put the “social” in social media by using these sites to build relationships with key people.
These “key people” could be potential clients, partners, and other individuals with whom building a relationship seems to clearly relate to your immediate professional success.
We recommend broadening your perspective on who is a valuable contact, foregoing the short-sighted, mercenary approach of building relationships according to their apparent business value.
Personal branding expert Dan Schawbel wrote a great piece about the value of setting regular “you never know” meetings.
“[Build relationships with] people who you find interesting, or who you believe you could learn from. They don’t have to share the same profession with you, be in the same industry or be in your extended network. When you find talented, and interesting people, they are typically doing something that could inspire you. They are also the type of people that will do something great someday and you can be part of it if you invest your time in building a friendship with them today.”
The old “surround yourself with good people” adage applies in real life and online.
Focus on how you can help other people, not the other way around, and keep friendships alive for the sake of human connection, not personal gain. This will result in the most rewarding relationships, emotionally and professionally!
Make 2016 the Year of Building Your Personal Brand
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This post is the first part of our Year of the Personal Brand series. Subscribe using the form below to receive the next pieces, aimed at giving you and your team practical advice and tools for building your personal brands in 2016.