The power of personal branding
By Suzanna Alsayed
How security professionals can build an effective online identity to communicate strengths and network well with others
By Suzanna Alsayed
The way we perceive information has changed a lot in the past decade, especially with most organizations moving to an online platform.
The internet has allowed us to embrace globalization and removed any geographical restrictions that existed before. These days, the way we conduct ourselves on the internet affects the overall perception of who we are in our personal and professional lives. In our day and age, we automatically have a “personal brand.” When you search for yourself on Google, what comes up? Arguably, the results of that search will automatically develop into your brand and will also become the first impression that someone will have of you. No matter if you are an employer, employee and/or an entrepreneur, fostering a personal brand has become extremely important.
Social media is a powerful tool, when used correctly. There are many positives that can come from having an online presence — it is an opportunity to showcase yourself through your unique vision and ideas. But there are several fallacies about personal branding — this article aims to provide a few reasons why you should attempt to enhance your online brand, how to do it, its benefits, and also how to pinpoint immediate changes you can make to start this journey.
Benefits of personal branding
Having a personal brand gives you an opportunity to demonstrate the exact value that you can bring to the table. It is about sharing your story, your expertise, and knowledge that you have collected along the way to become the person you are today. Your personal brand can help you with:
Standing Out: The way you brand yourself will help you to stand out from your peers and competition. It will give you an opportunity to discover and promote your niche. Your brand can become a platform where you can also convey your message and values.
Different Opportunities: Your brand can help you gain a loyal following that not only shares your values, but also can create more opportunities for yourself to showcase your expertise within new or existing ventures.
Trust and Credibility: Ultimately, your personal brand becomes your reputation. You are basically proving that there is a face behind your brand and confirming to your targeted audience that they can trust you. Today, a logo and website are not enough to build trust; it is about knowing who the individual is behind the curtains and how they uniquely approach their mission.
It is not a clear-cut process to start building your personal brand. It requires time, courage, ambition, discipline and a lot of self-reflection. These are some good questions to ask yourself, when beginning your personal branding journey:
- What motivated me to start my self-branding journey?
- What are my core values?
- What is my passion, and what motivates me?
- What experience and knowledge can I share with others?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What makes me unique and special?
- What and who inspires me?
- What can I do to revolutionize my industry?
TIP:When self-reflecting, try using a pen and paper to avoid any distractions.
Using LinkedIn as your personal branding platform
LinkedIn is an online professional networking platform, and a tool to acquire new skills and find employment. LinkedIn has over 690 million users worldwide. Your LinkedIn presence is essentially your online resume. Yet, even though numerous professionals comprehend the value of LinkedIn, possibly many do not use the platform to its fullest capacity. Below you will find tips that will help you set up a LinkedIn profile that stands out. It is important to note that your profile needs to be updated regularly to reflect your current activities and affiliations.
Start with the following:
LinkedIn Photo: Your LinkedIn photo should be a representation of who you are professionally. Do not be afraid to smile. Have someone take a photo of you with a plain background, to avoid any distractions. Try to avoid selfies.Background Photo: LinkedIn comes with a generic blue background photo, however, adding a unique background will help you stand out and make your profile look more professional.
Headline: The headline gives you an opportunity to summarize and showcase what you do in your industry in a few words. You can choose to display your current role, or showcase your skills, awards and future aspirations.
Summary: The summary section is not a ‘biography section.’ It should be used to highlight your experience, unique skills and abilities, education, knowledge, and any other items that differentiate you from others. Do not be afraid to make your message personable — this is your story!
Experience: In the experience section, attempt to list out all pertinent jobs that relate to your industry. You can simply fill out the job title and company or put a description of what you have accomplished within that role. To separate your profile from others, try adding images to highlight your activities during your work engagement. Education: Include all of your licences, certifications, diplomas and degrees to showcase your academic and specialized background.
- Location: should reflect where you are situated or where you want to work.
- Skills: should reflect not only your professional experiences, but also demonstrate your personable skills, and core competencies.
- Volunteer Experience: indicates that you are not just a corporate persona, but you also have good time management skills, and have a commitment to your community.
- Recommendations: securing a couple of recommendations from other colleagues acts as a reference for others. Do not be afraid to ask your network for recommendations!
- Languages: makes you a competitive candidate within the workforce, and simultaneously allows you to network with multilingual professionals.
- Accomplishments: should be used to highlight projects, publications, awards and other credentials you have earned.
Once your profile is created or updated, it is important to begin networking. There are many ways that can be achieved on LinkedIn:
- Adding connections online
- Liking or commenting on other posts
- Following or joining groups within your industry
- Creating and making your own posts to engage your network
It is important to not only add a person or join a group; make sure that you also participate and engage yourself with others. Engaging with others not only ensures exposure to your personal brand but also gives you an opportunity to learn from others.
Content and statistics
Creating content takes time, focus and creativity. Viewers do not want to read about “perfection,” they want to be part of a message or something that they can relate to.
When you are ready to post on LinkedIn, consider the following:
- Plan ahead and experiment with your content (try posting outside of your comfort zone!)
- Have a blend between professional and personal posts
- Post about the work that you do and your expertise
- Stay consistent with your posts — post regularly
- Use hashtags and tag your network accordingly
Additionally, it is important to track your statistics on LinkedIn, to see who, where and when people are viewing your posts, and if they are responding to the content that you are producing. It is important to understand where your views and reactions come from, as it will allow you to cater your future content to that specific audience, demographic and location. We never get a second opportunity to make a first impression, which is why it is crucial to utilize all the resources we have at hand and put the best version of ourselves forward. Due to our lifestyles, everyone already has a digital footprint; yet it is never too late to redefine yourself and explore a new area.
But remember, by building an online personal brand, you are exposing yourself to feedback, and when things do not go according to plan, it is important to not get discouraged, and keep pushing your platform forward.
A brand is not built overnight — it will take a lot of time, commitment and consistency to gain trust and loyalty from your followers. Remember, continuously working on yourself and your vision is not a zero-sum game. Believe in yourself and your message, and there will be no limit.