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Building a brand is a huge job, whether that brand represents a huge business or one individual. As an individual, you have both the advantage and disadvantage that everything you do becomes part of your brand. Being able to define and stay true to yourself might seem easier than constructing an identity for a corporation, but the hardest part is the number of different things you have to do!
Here's a guide for all the different roles and responsibilities you need to take on to define your brand. But remember, you don't need to do it alone – this list can also help you find your weak spots so you can hire a consultant, take a course, or just get some practice!
Everyone has a particular area of expertise. Figure out yours, and wear it loud and proud! You can know everything about a tiny niche, or have a particular slant on a larger one. Ask yourself what other people want to learn from you, and how you can teach it well.
Find ways to reach out with your skill – be a Wikipedia editor, write a blog, speak to local groups, or volunteer. Your career might even be related to your specialty. If it's not, showing off your skills is a good first step moving in a new direction!
Even though we hear about creating personal brands online a lot, our personal brand matters even more when meeting someone in person. How you look, dress, and act influences what people think of you. But all is not lost – your hair and makeup really don't matter as much as your attitude, confidence, and friendliness. Find ways to relax and just be yourself!
Just like recognizing your voice, you want people to be able to recognize you when you're saying something online or in print. Create a consistent look that epitomizes who you are – yes, graphic designers have hard jobs!
Get some inspiration (and don't get overwhelmed) by focusing on your profile picture or business card. After that, think about your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles, and your website design. It might not be worth your time to figure out how to make those all yourself, but you need to be the thread linking them all together.
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Start letting your voice be heard online. Whether you're going to use youTube, your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, be intentional. Know who you are reaching out to on each platform, and let those people direct how you use it. But being accessible somewhere online can help continue existing relationships and foster new ones.
As more and more of our interactions with each other move online, writing is an important skill to improve. And break the habits that you made when you were a student trying to reach a page requirement – on the web, shorter is better!
And don't be content to be sloppy. With spell-check and online dictionaries and thesauruses, not to mention freelance editors and proofreaders, let your words communicate your message without getting in the way.
Let your best self shine in person, too. Your voice is an important part of who people see you as being. Over the phone, on video, giving speeches, or just making conversation – your voice and your presence will tell people who you are before they even get a chance to understand what you're saying.
Practice does make perfect. Start meeting new people and striking up conversations. Look for opportunities to give speeches and presentations, and see them as opportunities instead of chores. Put your best foot forward.
Get out there and start meeting people, and then start introducing them to other people who might connect well to them. As your network grows, others will start doing the same for you. And if you are trying to meet someone in particular – a specific person, employee of a specific company, or someone in a specific career – ask others for help. You never know who knows who.
By solving the problems of others, you become memorable. Be open-handed with your talents and time. Gifts often encourage reciprocation as well – but if you're only being helpful to be selfish, don't bother. People can tell.
Last, but not least, be yourself. You can't put on a charade forever, and the best personal brands will stick with you through thick and thin – because they are representing you. Don't stress about getting each of these roles exactly right, because being yourself is cliche, but it's still the most important.