Last updated: Jul 2021
In a world where virtual networking is becoming a norm, establishing your digital presence and personal brand becomes critical for successful networking.
To create a personal brand plan for the year ahead, you first need to begin with a review of what you are already known for.
Here are the areas to focus on for your brand audit:
- Your message and story/ Who you are
- Your ideal customer/ Who you are speaking to
- Your website and online presence
- Social media profiles
- Bios and media kit
Here are 3 very simple ways to help you get started.
Conduct a Digital Audit (~ 1 hour)
We all leave a trail of crumbs online. Maybe you have an old social media profile you no longer use. Maybe there’s an article you wrote back in the day that now makes you cringe.
Then there’s all of the information you’ve shared online via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms: Party photos, event photos, comments and posts you may not want your professional network to come to know of.
What would a recruiter, a colleague, a potential future boss, learn about you if they searched for you online? Would they see the last date you went on, and how it turned out? Would they be able to see the trail of heated comments you left on social media posts?
- Google your full name, your public social media profile handles, to see where you appear on the search engine. This is critical as most people turn to Google Search to look you up.
- Review your social media profiles: What posts and content are made available to the public? Which ones are only viewable by your friends and family?
- Review your social media profile network: Do you have colleagues on your personal social media channels? Would it be wise to separate your private and personal social media content from what might be visible to your professional network?
- What photos and posts are you tagged in? Would it be wise to remove them?
- What does your social media presence say about you? For most people, unless you are in the consumer marketing space e.g Lifestyle Blogger, LinkedIn will be more relevant than Instagram. Review your online biographies and see if they present a consistent image you are happy with.
Create your LinkedIn Profile (~ 30 minutes)
With a personal brand, you are the brand so your reputation matters. Potential employers, clients, colleagues, and recruiters will be checking you out online. What kind of digital footprint and first impressions are you leaving behind? Review your LinkedIn Profile and ask yourself if the message you are portraying is the one you want.
- Ensure you have a Linkedin Profile visible to the public. This includes your profile picture (a professional headshot), employment details (including history), and an executive summary about yourself.
- Leverage LinkedIn to tell your story and your personal brand. Who are you and what do you want to be known for? What sets you apart from your peers in your industry? Once you know your personal brand, you can express it throughout in your LinkedIn profile.
- Begin adding colleagues and ex-colleagues to your LinkedIn Network. This builds visibility of your profile within their networks.
- Like, Comment and Share relevant articles in your Linkedin Profile. Linkedin is not another Facebook or Instagram, it is best to keep personal photos and updates away from LinkedIn.
- Publish articles. Have you published content, such as articles on LinkedIn or Medium? Does it enhance your brand?
Create your Website (~3-5 hours)
Thinking about your personal brand message and your ideal reader, audit your website. Do you expect your colleagues, clients and recruiters to be referring to your website most? Or, are you trying to establish yourself as a lifestyle blogger? Understand your value proposition before planning out what your website will showcase.
- Do a bit of research into color psychology.
- Review your logo.
- Ensure that it is mobile-optimised
- What are the images saying?
- What vibe is everything sharing?
What are potential customers thinking and feeling when they consider your services or signup for your newsletter or read your blog?
- Hop onto a website builder like WordPress or Squarespace. Explore the benefits of different web hosts and decide. Depending on your needs, you’ll need to select your web host wisely. Most web hosts don’t come with a free option, and if you’re serious about getting a professionally done website, reach out to web designers for a quote.
- Select a domain name that best reflects you. I highly suggest securing a domain name that is your full name, but if these aren’t available, explore the “.me” and “.co” domain name extensions which are quite popular for personal websites.
- Decide on what your website will showcase. Share your work and experience, or area of expertise. For example, if you’re a digital marketer, you’d consider sharing case studies of your past works.
- Stay consistent throughout. You don’t want to be using five different profile summaries an five different profile pictures across all public social media profiles.
- Keep it simple. While it might be important to get your digital presence straightened out, it is still more important to virtually connect and network than have an awesome digital presence no one knows about.
- Keep it affordable. You don’t need to be paying thousands of dollars to get a personal website up and running, and neither do you need to hire a social media manager right off the bat if you have nothing to manage.
- Constantly seek to improve. Look around at your peers and their digital presence to find new and innovative ways to improve upon your website or LinkedIn profile.
- Continue to network. A digital presence is worth nothing if you’re not actively putting yourself out there to talk to and connect with people.