Based on a quick online search, you might think building a professional brand is a simple three-step process involving social media of some kind. The fact is, a professional brand is nothing more than a good, old-fashioned reputation. And whether you deliberately created it or not, you already have one.
A professional brand takes time to build -- your entire career, in fact -- and requires careful attention and frequent course correction. It’s a physical reflection of who you are, and who you want to be, in your professional field. With that in mind, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help curate and expand your reputation based on your professional goals and objectives:
- What do you have to offer? What specific and unique skills or experiences can you bring to the table that differentiate you from others in your field? It may be as simple as a different perspective.
- What is important to you? What are the things that really engage you, the things you think about when you’re not working? What problems would you like to solve?
- What are you good at? What have you always been recognized for (particularly as a kid)? What did you do better than most other people? What skills do people seem to notice in you?
Once you have your answers, you can start to focus on the point where your talents, your passions and your experience intersect. This is your sweet spot, the area where you can start to position yourself and your personal brand.
Start carving out your territory. With your newfound focus, you can start to do the things that move your brand from a simple tag line to the tangible manifestation of your mission. Here’s how:
- Take some classes. You can find an amazing array of free courses online, along with classes through local community colleges and professional organizations.
- Speaking of professional organizations, join one. Or two. Get to know people who do what you do, or what you want to do.
- Attend events, like conference or even learn-at-lunch events. Any opportunity to learn more about your focus area… plus it’s an opportunity for networking, too.
Once you begin to feel more confident about your subject matter expertise, it’s time to put yourself out there. This is where you’ll really begin to see your reputation -- or personal brand -- start to build strength and momentum.
- Write a blog. Make sure it’s well-written and well-edited. Focus on a niche aspect of your industry or your unique perspective. Give readers a reason to read your blog, and be sure to post regularly. If you don’t enjoy writing, consider posting a video or podcast series instead.
- Build an online presence beyond your blog. Interact with others in your field via social media. Comment on other people’s blogs, offer to write articles or editorials for websites that cover your industry.
- Volunteer. Nothing says you can’t do good and do well at the same time. Offer your free skills to an organization you believe in, and you can add to your resume, build leadership experience, and network with like-minded individuals all at the same time.
Over time, all of these activities -- along with the work you continue to do every day -- begin to establish your reputation: your work ethic, your depth and breadth of knowledge, your unique areas of expertise. All of that, combined with some networking and recognition-building efforts, will become your personal brand. It will take time, but it’s worth the effort.
If you’re considering a refocus or change in your career, visit BBVA Compass career site to discover available opportunities.