The eyes may be the window to the soul, but your personal brand is the window to your future. Your in-person and digital branding gives potential employers a clear sense of who you are and what you can bring to their company. Your personal brand development is your most important marketing campaign, and you need to craft it strategically and cohesively to make a strong impression.
Why Your Brand Matters
Who are you? A personal brand is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Future employers want to know who you are: according to Inc, "Personal branding is becoming increasingly important because modern audiences tend to trust people more than corporations." By creating a brand, you can help future employers determine whether you will mesh well with a company's culture and digital marketing needs. Follow these five steps to craft your personal brand.
1. Assess Your Strengths
As you create a personal brand, you need to look hard at the product: yourself. What are your personal and professional strengths? Are you committed to seeing a project through to the end, even if it's incredibly difficult? Are you a whiz at developing newsletters that convert leads into customers? Take our talent assessment to determine where your strengths lie. The field of digital marketing is large, and it's important to find your niche within it.
2. Develop Your Story
Why are you a part of the world of digital marketing? This is the time to show who you are and why you're here in the first place. "Your brand voice should attract the like-minded and repel the timid," says Ann Handley.
It's scary to send your true self out to the world. It's also essential. As you develop your story, consider the following questions.
- What is your vision for your marketing career?
- What are your goals in the next 1, 5, or 10 years? Consider how these goals connect to your broader vision or story. If they don't connect, you might need to reconsider whether your vision is truly who you are.
- What interpersonal connections will help you achieve those goals? Think about jobs, networks, and mentors.
- What assets do you need to develop to achieve these goals? Consider your web presence, social media accounts, and direct experiences such as internships and apprenticeships.
- How will you spread your brand? Think about how a blog or networking can help you develop a reputation in your field.
- How will you monitor your brand? You can do this by talking with others or even by setting up a Google Alert on your name. Forbes suggests that you "audit your online presence" to ensure that your digital and professional stories align.
3. Get Real Life Experience
Real life experiences aren't just there to give you a line on your resume. They help you and your employers understand how your story translates into reality. By working with others, you'll build your reputation. As you do good work and connect with those in your field, they'll begin to understand what you're like to work with, and you'll build the network of those who not only understand who you are, but how you work.
If you're at the beginning of your career and considering how best to gain experience, consider the following options:
- School projects: Use your school projects to explore who you are, developing an area of interest. Connect them to real life through case studies that you complete for a business, adding to your network and your portfolio.
- Internships and summer jobs: These give you the opportunity to work closely with a single, well-respected company. You'll gain skills from working with established professionals and be able to use the experience to further refine who you are and what direction you'd like to go in your field.
- Freelance projects: Get a taste of the entrepreneurial life and see if flying solo suits your personality. You'll learn from all of your clients and be able to use those experiences to shape your career direction.
- Apprenticeships: Delve more deeply into the work world in a longer-term apprenticeship. Connect with a single organization and at the same time, receive mentorship and support to help you refine your story and career path.
4. Communicate Your Accomplishments
As you develop your story, create ways to highlight your accomplishments. Develop a digital portfolio that allows you to show, not tell what you do.
If design is not your strong suit, there are many templates to assist you, such as PortfolioBox.net, Vizualize.me, or Pathbrite. Create a simple but stunning resume using the same storytelling techniques that you use to develop your brand story. Your writing must be concise and on point, with specific language to show what you've achieved. If you're a design master, consider adding an infographic element to your portfolio.
5. Amplify Your Brand
Once you have a niche and can tell your story, shout it from the rooftops. Become known for what you do so that you'll stand out from the crowd and distinguish yourself as an emerging professional. When employers see your strong voice, they'll understand who you are and you'll be better able to land the right position for you.
For example, if you want to become known as a marketing copywriter, you can start a blog as a venue to share your writing skills and marketing opinions. Use your blog as a way to network with others, interviewing professionals in your field and sharing their thoughts. Guest blog for others and drive traffic back to your site as well. Develop your own blogger persona that fits with your brand story. If you're a marketing renegade, show this in your challenging content and design.
Your personal brand development is a life-long journey that begins now. Looking to craft your brand toward a digital marketing career? Download the ebook Nailing the Job Hunt for some helpful tips.