With digital and social playing an ever-more important role in the hiring process, the days of a strong track record and professional resume being all that’s required to land a new role are firmly behind us.
Paige Schnoebelen of our NY office gives the run down on how to create the ultimate personal brand for Digital Marketers.
Whether you like it or not, in today’s entrepreneurial landscape everyone has a personal brand.
For even the most accomplished professional (in fact especially for the most accomplished) the resume is now only part of the story. Employers want to see a rounded, coherent online profile above and beyond the experience they see chronicled in a resume.
According to McKinsey research, strong brands can easily outperform their less recognizable competitors by as much as 73%. This makes your personal brand one of the most critical aspects of your career.
It also demonstrates your skills and enthusiasm for the industry while influencing other’s perception of you in a more meaningful way than a simple LinkedIn profile might.
Having an established brand will help you:
• Become more visible in your industry
• Improve your reputation with recruiters and managers
• Find a better job to increase your salary (or job satisfaction)
• Win better clients for your company to increase sales and earnings
• Grow your professional network for more opportunities in the future!
If you’re looking for a new job, then you would want your potential boss to see your personal brand and target you as a must-have candidate for their team. If you’re not looking for a job your personal brand can help potential clients for your company, feel a sense of consistency and trust in long-term success while working with your company.
You might be at different stages of establishing your personal brand. Maybe you’re just starting out or you’ve been working on it for a few years. Regardless of where you are in the process of building your brand we believe the following guidelines will help guide you to success.
1. Establishing a foundation
Before you can start building your brand you need to establish a solid foundation.
This can be as simple as understanding what your target audience wants and how your abilities might play into it.
Many professionals flock to every networking site to quickly create a profile and copy-paste bits and pieces of their resume. After the initial adoption of the platform they don’t interact with the site or community in a meaningful way. Of course, they don’t see the countless connection notifications and job offers streaming in that they had expected. They abandon the platform leaving a “ghost” profile that’s never updated. There’s nothing worse for a potential employer or client to find than an outdated Social profile. This usually happens because they tried to build a brand without fully knowing what their purpose was on that platform.
Here’s a way to approach this:
Think of a marketing agency working on a corporate brand. The first thing they might do is an audit of the current online presence. Which platforms are they currently using? Do they have a blog? What message do they want to send to their prospective clients or candidates?
So why not do the same thing for your own brand?
You might even want to create a personal value proposition just like a marketing team working with a corporate brand might. In one sentence try to clarify how you do what you do without using jargon or vague descriptions.
Instead of saying: “I’m a Digital Marketer who makes possibilities possible.”
You could try: “I help companies identify their best marketing channels and create drip campaigns to increase conversions.”
Try to keep in mind that this shouldn’t be how you would describe yourself but what your target audience might be searching for to find someone like you.
Once you’ve decided on your value proposition you can insert it into your LinkedIn profile, blog, resume or anywhere else online that you have a relevant professional presence.
Or it can simply be a way for you to keep in mind what you bring to the table as you continue to build your brand.
After you’ve decided on your value proposition you can begin writing your biography. This is a critical step that many professionals don’t spend too much time on. But this biography isn’t just to sit on your LinkedIn page to collect dust. Once you’ve optimized and written a fantastic bio it will be a great tool to have in your arsenal for future job interviews to networking events.
When someone asks the dreaded “what do you do” your answer won’t be a disappointing “email marketing.”
I know that writing about yourself can be difficult. Here is how you can make the process easier.
First create a short list of items such as your education, work experience, awards or volunteer work. From here you can flesh it out to inject some personality and warmth to make sure that your bio doesn’t simply come across as a list of accomplishments. You should be striving to tell a story.
(As you’re working on this be sure to keep your value proposition in mind. What do you want to be known for and who are you targeting?)
Three or four short paragraphs is a good length for a bio. And remember to include a call to action for next steps in the final paragraph!
2. Your base of operations
To make sure that you have a strong online presence, have your work and aspects of your professional career spread over multiple platforms.
With nearly 500 million daily users, a LinkedIn profile is a must have for your personal brand. Your target audience will research you on LinkedIn first before they decide whether they wish to work with, hire, or refer you. I’m repeating myself here but you can’t just “set it and forget it”. You must make your profile incredibly compelling to capture your audience’s interest and then engage that audience. (We’ll talk about this a bit more in the next step.)
There’s two things you need to make sure you do at this step.
1. Choose your profile picture carefully so that it resonates with the rest of your brand. In a lot of cases this will be the first time your audience will see what you look like. For this reason, consider working with a professional photographer to get a quality head shot. Once you have a professional, high resolution photo then you can use this on any future social media platforms you join. This will also help create a sense of consistency with your brand.
2. Optimize your headline! By default, LinkedIn will fill it in with your job title and your current company. Consider using the value proposition you prepared when you were laying your foundation.
Once you’re set up on LinkedIn, utilize all the major social media platforms that are relevant in your industry. This can include Facebook, Instagram, Behance, Dribbble, Pinterest, or even Snapchat.
At one point we would have advised creating and maintaining a Twitter account. However, we believe the Twitter doesn’t yield enough of a result anymore from the attention or energy it takes to build a brand on the platform (#twexit).
The problem with only building your personal brand on these platforms means that they own your content. So if you want to take it further, and it’s becoming much more common these days, you should create a personal website or blog. Both Squarespace and WordPress allow for very affordable options to have your own website these days.
Even if it seems like you have no audience on your brand-new blog or on your other social media sites, remember that you’re not doing it for the numbers. Future employers want to feel confident that the next addition to their organization bring more value than the average “worker bee”.
3. Curate, Create, Share (Rinse and repeat)
So you’ve identified your value proposition, your audience, and established your bases of operation. Now it’s time to share some content.
Without consistent updates to your website, portfolios or social media profiles, potential connections or employers aren’t going to be interested. Profiles with little to no content appear like ghost towns and can seriously damage your brand instead of helping it.
If you don’t know what kind of content to create don’t worry!
You can start by identifying influencers (individuals or companies) in your industry that you admire and curate their content to share their expertise with your network. Even though you’re not sharing your own custom content, this will show that your passion for your industry goes beyond the 9-5 and that you’re more active/ engaged than any other candidates.
If you do want to create your own content, consider the following critical question regarding your brand: What conversations would you like to start or be a part of?
You can pen a blog on your LinkedIn through Pulse, or your personal website, explaining your unique perspective on a subject that your target audience is interested in. It could be anything from industry trends, predictions, market development… the possibilities are endless!
4. Expand Your Network
Once you’ve established a firm grasp on your systems of managing your brand through the various social channels it’s time to put it to use by actively building your network.
While you should already be following influencers and the big names in your space, you must make sure to engage with your network and join relevant conversations. Don’t be afraid to bring up questions, concerns, and thoughts about changes that might be happening in your industry.
This comes with a caveat however, remember to always keep your professionalism when interacting with your audience. It’s all too easy to start getting emotionally invested and start divulging personal opinions which might not contribute positively to the discussion.
Joining professional online groups can also help you keep up date in your career while making vital connections that will come handy later. Think big fish in a small pond. It will be a lot easier to build your brand image with a relevant audience of 2,500 in a LinkedIn group versus the 400 million LinkedIn users. They will also be more likely to share your content and potentially collaborate with you on future projects.
5. Focus on Your Strengths
Everyone has a few things that they know they’ve mastered and are very specialized in. Emphasizing such skills in your interaction with your new community will be a huge advantage in making an impression.
As part of your brand, make your strengths clear and easy to understand. Don’t spread yourself out too much and be a master of none. This is how your potential future employers or clients will evaluate your ability.
If you feel like you don’t have a specific specialism or a passion that can benefit your career, look at the top influencers in your trade and figure out which skills to focus on.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you’re particularly adept at something you never imagined as a possibility and create a niche for yourself (and your brand).
Although these steps may seem quite simple, they can help guide you to build a professional profile and a visibly distinctive brand that will showcase who you are and what you can add to your future company.
It can be a tad intimidating to put yourself out there under your own name and picture. After all you’re opening yourself to criticism from your peers in the industry. But you will also receive vital feedback that will help shape you into becoming a better professional.
And finally make sure to have some patience. Building brands can sometimes take years and your own personal brand, if done well, shouldn’t be any different. It will go through many changes, as will you, but the best part of it is that it will show to your industry that you’re constantly growing and challenging yourself.
We’re always interested in working with digital marketing professionals to help them position themselves for their next career step – if you’re looking for a new challenge, we’d love to hear from you!
Paige Schnoebelen recruits for digital roles across all levels of seniority (mid-level to C-suite) with a focus on Search, Social, Display, Programmatic & Analytics. Connect with her on LinkedIn for a networking opportunity.
Phone: (646) 583-0050
Email: paige.schnoebelen (@) adaptive-digital.com
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