Personal branding 101: How you can stand out

In today's global marketplace, candidates have to be willing to focus on their own personal branding in order to set themselves apart from the competition.

Not only can a sophisticated personal brand help to secure a better job, but people can also develop an impressive contacts book and harness a reputation as a thought leader within the industry if it is cultivated properly.

With 71 per cent of CEOs believing that human capital is a key source of economic value, employees need to be empowered to look after their personal branding by their employer. Don't forget that staff will always be a company's greatest asset.

Why do you need personal branding?

As PWC points out, personal branding is about "bringing who you are to what you do and how you do it". People have to sit down and work out what are their unique strengths, skills and attributes, and how can these be used to present a more attractive proposition to companies, clients and customers.

It will help you to project a positive professional presence at all times, while also making it possible to find the right career path. In short, personal branding is about taking ownership of your reputation.

By investing in your personal brand, you can take control of your life and set out your vision. Creating goals will also give you something to aim for and a target to base your achievements against. Creating a personal brand also:

  • Develops trust - Human interactions remain at the heart of business and a personal brand makes it easier to connect on a human-to-human level. By having a range of loyal brand advocates, a business will be able to present a favourable image of itself online.
  • Provides consistency - Working out what a brand stands for should not be a tricky process, so keeping it consistent is important. By producing a consistent, yet dynamic message, people can increase the chances of having interactions with the right target audience.
  • Allows you to control the message - Social media can act as a level playing field, as it means people can take control of the conversation and make sure their brand is presented accurately.

Building a personal brand

So how can you go about building a personal brand? Firstly, you have to start thinking about yourself as a brand. As Forbes contributor Shama Hyder states: "Is there a certain subject matter in which you want to be perceived as an expert or are there general qualities you want linked to your brand?" By working out what you want to say, it's much easier to take strategic decisions that will make this happen.

People also have to audit their online presence, as it's important they understand what material is already out there about them. If the vast majority of this does not align with their vision, they need to draw up a plan for making sure their message takes over. A good way of doing this is to build a personal website, as it is not only great for getting your name ranked on search engines, but can also act as a hub for important information.

Finally, you need to put a lot of time and effort into your networking efforts, as this will put you in touch with both industry players and potential customers. Connecting with people also gives you a platform for sharing ideas and information.

How to monitor your brand

Once your personal brand is up and running, it's important to monitor its development to make sure you retain control of your name. According to Neil Patel and Aaron Agius - the former is co founder of KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout, while the latter is a digital marketing expert - keeping your website and social media profiles updated is a vital part of this process.

"If you search for the names of people you admire, people with strong personal brands, you'll notice that their personal websites and blogs appear high in the results, but you'll also notice their social profiles," they stated.

You can use tools such as Google Alerts, Radian6, Hootsuite and Mention to monitor your brand online, while people will also have to be willing to deal with negative comments about their brand.

The beauty of personal brands is that they are not tied to any one organisation. Instead, they are a reflection of where you work and how you feel at any given time. By investing in personal branding, you are actually investing in yourself, which means you can reap the benefits for many years to come.