In 2020, it almost goes without saying that the lines between personal and work life are almost non-existent. This is especially true if you are an entrepreneur, or if you work in publicly-facing fields such as media, marketing, politics, and academia. Your personal brand is how you market yourself to the world. It’s how you attract new opportunities and capitalize on your personal strengths in the most literal sense.
However, even the most visible public brands such as Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart did not simply re-invent themselves overnight. Personal branding can be a meticulous, laborious process that involves a lot of self-reflection and an ability to build a loyal following. With that in mind, let’s go through the nine golden rules of personal branding that you need to follow in 2020.
1. Don’t Hide Who You Are
When building a personal brand, too many people make the mistake of assuming that your brand should be a calculated, manufactured version of yourself. This is not correct, and doing so will do more to drive people and opportunities away than drawing them to you. Use your online presence to showcase real moments in your life, such as hanging out with friends, or simply sharing your feelings on a range of topics. You have something of value to share, so don’t hide it.
2. Have a Genuine Niche
The whole rationale behind the art personal brand building is that it allows you to stand out from competitors within your field. Therefore, it would be self-defeating to build a personal brand that doesn’t offer anything new to your target audience and network. Take the time to do some research and figure out exactly what your field is missing that you can offer. This way, you will be able to stand out from the crowd and offer something truly unique.
3. Have an Eye-Catching Online Profile
90% of personal branding is centered on your digital profile. Therefore, all of your social media profiles should be eye-catching, engaging, and genuinely revealing about who you are and what you have to offer. This logic is perhaps best summed up by this insider guide on how to get more matches on dating apps, which explains in-depth the importance of eye-catching bios, interesting photos, and creative opening sentences when attempting to stand out. This is your chance to experiment and be creative.
4. Be Visible, Approachable, and Accessible
A successful personal brand cannot be built if you are difficult to reach and give off an impression of aloofness. Allow members of the public to contact you freely and don’t shy away from getting involved in conversations and debates that concern your industry and niche. Even better, put yourself out there and attend as many relevant social events, conferences, and networking days as possible. If you make yourself available, you will attract the opportunities that you seek.
5. Focus on the Needs of Others
This point relates to what we said earlier about not approaching personal branding in a cynical or self-centered way. You should not be focusing on what you can get out of other people when brand-building, but rather focusing on what you can do for others. The “audience first” approach to personal branding is already a well-worn truism, but it really does bear repeating in a world where too many people put their own business priorities first.
6. Keep Updated
Successful personal branding is all about being reactive. For better or for worse, it is vital to stay informed on all of the latest developments within your industry and beyond and to be ready to comment or contribute something to what is unfolding. What’s more, being informed also means staying informed about yourself. Set up a Google Alert for your name so you can be the first to know when you are being mentioned online. Keeping updated means you will never get caught off-guard or risk looking uninformed.
7. Focus on Real Connections
When you are first building your personal brand, you might be tempted to gravitate towards those shiny startups and influencers that you think will give you clout by association. However, this tactic rarely pays off. Be real and give everyone the opportunity to speak with you. If someone is interested in what you have to offer, then give them the time of day, even if you don’t think they will provide the kind of opportunities you are seeking. Turning off your filter will ensure a more personally enriching experience.
8. Keep in Touch
Granted, you might feel that maintaining all of your contacts can feel like laborious life admin. This does not change the fact that if you don’t speak to your contacts, you will lose them. Always check in with your network and ask how they are doing. Even engaging with their own content online is a way of making sure they don’t forget that you exist. Maintain a detailed database of your contacts so that you never lose sight of them. This will definitely come in handy in the future.
9. Become an Authority
Finally, it is important that you are able to speak confidently and authoritatively about your chosen field. Your personal brand will not stand out if you cannot demonstrate your own talent and expertise. This means taking the time to learn more and conduct constant research on your field. If you give the impression that you don’t know what you are talking about, your star will begin to fade.
By following these steps, you will be able to build a strong personal brand that attracts real opportunities and lifelong connections.