What’s your brand? What do you stand for? How do you want to be perceived as a professional?
As a public relations professional, your personal brand is as important as the work you do.
Much has been written about “branding yourself” (check out these excellent 10 Tips by Kyle Warnick or Forbes’ Personal Branding 101). But as a current PR intern, I’m hoping to provide a unique perspective – especially to recent grads.
What’s your brand?
The first step is identifying what you want your brand to be. As a 30-something who’s recently switched careers, I’ve had time to figure out mine: strategic communicator who’s passionate about global issues.
Keep your brand in mind when thinking about how you present yourself – clothes, hairstyle, walk – and the way you communicate.
Something you can ask yourself right now: are you already personifying your brand or do you want people to perceive you differently? Depending on your answer, now could be the time to start working on defining your personal brand.
Building your brand.
Authenticity is key, so make sure you’re always accurately representing yourself. That said, there’s nothing wrong with improving your brand! Here’s how you can get started:
- Create a LinkedIn profile. When I started my internship search, I knew recruiters would vet me using LinkedIn, so I made sure that my personal page was polished and accurate. I also included my profile link on my resume, business cards and email signature. Though not related to personal branding, LinkedIn is also a great way to follow up with people you meet in person or reach out to potential employers.
- Refine your social media presence. Check out “The 39 Social Media Tools I’ll Use Today” to get started. I picked two accounts that made the most sense for my personal brand and then made sure to stay active on them. It’s more effective to have a few select, relevant and up-to-date social media channels than to scatter yourself across multiple platforms.
- Design business cards. Also consider a personal logo. A newspaper editor told me my graphic business card was the most memorable of all the cards he’s collected at events.
Maintaining your brand.
It’s important that your brand is reflected in everything you do. Consistency is key.
I support international co-workers that I may never meet in person. Regardless, I aim for them to get exposure to my brand through phone calls, emails and company social media. I deliberately use the same phone greeting, email signature and personal photo to stay consistent in my branding.
To maintain your brand, start here:
- Be consistent. Whenever you come into contact with friends, clients, prospects and colleagues, it’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand by communicating with your mission, vision and values in mind. And however you choose to communicate online, use the same tone – regardless if you’re asking for recommendations for your LinkedIn profile., updating Facebook, writing a blog post or creating a Vine.
- Be deliberate with your image. Before I leave my apartment I think about whether my appearance matches how I want my personal brand to be perceived.
- And develop a filter. When writing a cover letter, using social media or shopping for work clothes, ask yourself this, “Is this representative of my personal brand?”
What are the ways you build and maintain your brand? Let us know in the comments.
Lorraine Henry is currently an intern on the Health & Social Impact team at Weber Shandwick Seattle. You can find out more about Lorraine at her LinkedIn profile.
Image courtesy of Jess.