My Future

What Even Is A Personal Brand? And Do I Need One?

Well first of all, you already have one.

Our digital footprint is less a footprint these days and more a dinosaur-shaped stamp in the mud. According to this study, even 92 per cent of children under the age of two have a digital footprint. Which is terrifying, but that’s a conversation for another day.

What we post, snap and write online tells the rest of the world the kind of person we are. It’s our personal brand. And if this concept evokes nothing more than TED Talks and an image of Ashy Bines swilling her merchandise, then here’s some info you’ll probably need.

What In The Heck Is A Personal Brand?

How you present yourself to world – your values, connections, what colours make your eyes pop best – is all part of your personal brand. And it’s what employers see when they look for you. As Shelley Zalis wrote for Forbes, “Personal branding isn’t about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible.”

It’s how actors choose what movies they’re in and people choose what company they want to work for. It’s about you, but also about what you want to associate with.

Do I Really Need One?

Well, first of all, you already have one. So this is more about taking it in a direction that you feel aligns with your personal values.

Of course, there are careers that need them more than others. Anyone in a creative industry, sales, real estate, marketing or business can really benefit from making their name their brand. But as we said, you already have one and done right, it can do a lot to bolster your career prospects – so why not do it properly?

How Do I Do It Without Looking Like A Career Robot?

Firstly, only a career robot would ask that sort of question but it’s fine, your secret is safe with me.

Secondly, that’s a valid concern. Your friends will 100 per cent roast you if you start posting earnest career aphorisms and updating your LinkedIn every five seconds with minor achievements. But don’t worry, we’re not asking you to do that.

As suggested on Entrepreneur, do a google search of your name and see what comes up. If you’re proud of what you see and feel like it would properly represent you in a professional sense then you’re good. If you feel like the announcement of your team as runner-up netball champs for ’09 is a little dated, you can get to work.

Start by making all your social handles match and secure a domain name in your first and last name. Then make sure you don’t have any inappropriate content lingering on your socials (drunk pics, thirst traps, etc) but also don’t turn them all into an online resume. People still want to see the human side of you, career robot, so show it to them.

But it doesn’t end at the internet. You can strengthen your personal brand by networking, talking to people and making connections. Word of mouth is the best kind of advertisement.

So what does this look like? For example, if you’re a writer, it makes sense to pepper the internet with anything and everything you’ve written. In a way “Look out world, here I am!” kind of way. But not only that, it’s about writing and posting about things that are in your interest area. Want to specialise in pop culture? Tweet about TV shows, write up reviews on your personal blog, reference, critique, get into online discussions about stuff you like. Try to get invites to movie premieres, create Facebook fan groups online and pitch to websites.

Wherever your interest area is, make sure you’re there.

Just Be Aware

You don’t have to be a total nerd about it but being aware is the biggest thing. It’s always good to keep a potential employer in mind when you post anything online or act in a networking or professional setting.

(Lead image: Keeping Up With The Kardashians/E!)