10 steps to building and managing your personal brand

Are you branding yourself in everything you do? Have you developed your personal brand? Are you taking the steps to manage your personal brand and refine as it evolves?

“All of us need to understand the importance of branding… we are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. … our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you”

Tom Peters in Fast Company

What is a personal brand?

Personal branding is also known as your career or professional brand. It is the way you present yourself to your colleagues and your network online and off.

With the growth of LinkedIn, blogging, social networking and people use search engines all the time, it is important to portray your brand in a positive professional light.

Just like a company differentiates itself to stand out from its competitors by identifying and articulating its unique value proposition, you should do the same.

If you take a proactive approach to your personal brand, it can benefit your career.

10 steps you can take to control your personal brand

There are 10 important steps to help you develop your personal brand.

1. Search the major search engines to search your name and its variations

Make sure you know what the search engines are saying about you.

  • Is there someone else in the world that has your same name?
  • Is your identity correct online?
  • If there are variations of your name, have you search those names?

The first place to start with your personal brand, especially online, is to find out what is being said about you and what information comes up first in the search engines about you.

Action to take: Learn how to correctly Google yourself.

2. Clean up your web presence

Are you looking to do some “spring cleaning” because you don’t like what you see online?

You may want to erase some of yourself from the Internet. You use tools to see how you can “erase yourself” from the internet. Some websites are easy while others are virtually impossible.

For example, social networks such as Twitter are easy to delete while others like Pinterest are almost impossible.

Action to take: Clean up yourself on the Internet by using justdelete.me.

3. Proactive create your online reputation with free tools

Create your own personal website that lists all of our social networks with a free tool such as about.me or brandyourself that will give you a letter grade relating how your name ranks in search results.

Actions to take: Read how to manage your personal brand. Also, launch a blog (see step 7).

4. Claim your social media profiles and your personalized URL on LinkedIn

Have you protected yourself from cyber squatters when it comes to your social media profiles? Is your name available on important social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook?

Actions to take: To ensure you secure your desired username or vanity first, visit namechk.com to see if it is still available. You should also secure your personalized URL on LinkedIn

5. Buy your own domain name (even if you are not using it yet)

Do you own the URL of your name or blog name? If not, you should secure it at a website registrar such as godaddy.com.

You may want to read why you should buy a domain name for your child.

By owning your own domain name, you can be sure that if you use that URL, you will rank high in search results. If you don’t own your name, you are leaving your online reputation in the hands of the unknown. Purchasing your name is about $15 a year.

Action to take: Read why you need a domain strategy.

6. Set up an ongoing monitoring alert system

It is important to constantly monitor what is being said about you online. When you create the alerts, make sure you put your name with and without quotation markets. You should also include the different variations of your name.

Action to take: Set up Google Alerts.

7. Launch a blog where you can publish content and show your perspectives

I found that my blog is ranked within the top 5 search results in Google. You may want to create and publish content on your blog using a platform such as wordpress.com.

When you do start up a blog, remember the Internet is a copy machine. Think before you publish. If you get angry or emotional reacting to something you see online or someone else is provoking you, you may want to email yourself first or ask yourself: would my parents, friends or colleagues like to read this post?

A blog is a great way to demonstrate your personal brand. It helps you position yourself in a way that you want to be seen. A blog helps you grow your network beyond your work colleagues, may position yourself as a thought leader at your company, demonstrates your expertise on a topic or topics and shows that you know how to write and communicate (skills your current and potential future employer value).

Action to take: Read five of the best blogging websites

8. Take some time to get to know yourself and share helpful content on a regular basis

What do you want others to think of you as online? What types of articles do you share with others? Are they personal growth articles, leadership articles, career articles? What do you want to be known for?

Your personal brand reflects who you are. It is important to really know your strengths and weaknesses and do what you love. If you can’t blog, do you share useful tips to your colleagues about the industry you work in or how to do PR or marketing better?

Action to take: Learn who are you, what you are good at, and discover your true self.

9. Create your elevator pitch and key messages

Just like a company brand creates its elevator pitch of who the company is, why it is unique and different, and why you should care, the same goes with your personal brand.

  • Do you have your elevator pitch created and validated?
  • What are your core or key messages?

A good example of where you should really have your elevator pitch down is your LinkedIn summary section or your bio page on your blog. That paragraph or two should sum up your personal brand in a short, concise and compelling way.

Action to take: Read why you and your personal brand need an elevator pitch.

10. Develop a feedback loop with those you trust and evolve your personal brand

Just like company brands change over time, your personal brand is constantly changing and evolving.

As you gain more work and life experiences, your brand changes to reflect who you are at work and in life so it important to build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues and others you trust so they are helping you polish and refine you and your personal brand.

Action to take: Solicit feedback from your friends, family, colleagues, and others to give you feedback about your personal brand and build your own personal board of directors.

Bringing it all together

As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon

Do you know people are saying about your personal brand online and off? Are you taking steps to build, polish and refine it? The key is to remember your personal brand is more than just your job, it is your career. It is the brand called you!

What helpful tips would you add to this list of steps to building and managing your personal brand?