Online Personal Branding for Everyone

Personal branding has been a hot topic of discussion lately, and with good reason. It’s gained mainstream acceptance to the point that most professionals are at least aware of the basics. However, there still seems to be a misconception out there that personal branding is important for executives, business owners and celebrities—but not for everybody else. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Personal branding is an essential tool for all of us—entry-level employees all the way to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Effective personal branding will enhance your value to your employer, can increase your chances of promotion, and will position you as an expert in your line of work. And personal branding doesn’t have to be difficult—in fact, the tactics we’ll cover today can be done without walking away from your computer.

Think about your current job—when do you expect to be offered a promotion or a new opportunity? What is HR or management waiting for? In many cases, they’re waiting until they feel you have the necessary experience, or until you’ve developed sufficient expertise, or until you’ve shown the proper level of dedication to your job and your company. Now, strong personal branding won’t by itself accomplish any of these goals—but used effectively, your personal brand can showcase your talents, your knowledge, and your dedication to the outside world.

The first step is to determine the central components to the personal brand you want to build. When management hears your name, what do they think of? Are you young and energetic? Wise, experienced, and a proven winner? What about your expertise and your level of passion… do you love your job? Are you constantly soaking in knowledge, whether at work or at home? Are you up to speed with current developments and events that have an impact on your job? And what is your personality like? Are you laid back, calm and collected under pressure? Or perhaps you’re passionate, driven and determined to succeed in your every endeavor. Once you’ve identified two or three traits that you want to emphasize, you can begin building your brand.

The first step for professional personal branding should be LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a networking site that allows you to essentially display an in-depth resume and portfolio. You’ll want to upload a current version of your resume, as well as provide the additional information to display on your profile. Remember, as you are completing your profile, the personal brand that you are trying to build. Make sure that the information you are listing doesn’t take away from this brand. Every element of your profile, from your picture to your ‘specialties’, should enhance your brand. Once you’re happy with your profile, you can begin ‘connecting’ with colleagues, management, clients and others.

Twitter is another great online tool for professional personal branding. It’s important to remember, though Twitter is much more casual than LinkedIn, that your goal is still to build your personal brand. Make sure you choose an appropriate profile picture and write a professional-sounding blurb about yourself. Before you tweet anything, ask yourself “what would management think if they saw this?” Great tweet ideas include links to breaking news that impacts your job and your company, thoughts and insights relating to your areas of expertise, and personal thoughts or opinions that further advance your personal brand.

Social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are powerful tools for building your personal brand. Used wisely, they can emphasize your best qualities to the outside world—enhancing your chances of promotion, increasing your value to your employer, and positioning yourself as a true expert in your field.