The Art of Selling Yourself
It is not news to anyone that the average consumer is bombarded with hundreds of advertisements each day. We know this. We live this. Recent studies have shown that children as young as three years of age can correctly identify companies based on branding symbolism. Personal branding – the act of marketing oneself to an employer like a product to a consumer – has become increasingly popular, especially among millennials. Admittedly, it can be quite daunting to cultivate a strong social media presence that will embody the best of your personal and professional ‘personalities’. Exactly where do you begin? How do you create a brand that reflects who you are, what you do, and where you want to be?
1. Analyze yourself
Although it can be difficult, it is crucial to take a long hard look at yourself when building your personal brand. It is important not only to be self-aware but also to recognize the image you already portray to others. We might be reluctant to admit it, but many of us already have a brand personality taking form in our existing social media presence. Your Instagram personality, although an extension of you, is a contrived presence, a combined image of who you are and who you want to be. Analyzing and revaluating your social media presence are the first steps in creating an enduring personal brand. Think about your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and goals. Select a few aspects of yourself that you want to hone in on. Your personal brand should be tight, succinct, and easily understood. Think 140 characters or less.
2. Alignment is key
Once you have decided on the brand image you would like to create for yourself, it is important to contemplate how your particular skill-set can be aligned with this idea. Marry your skills with your passions and create content that reflects this alignment in your online presence. Tailor your Twitter bio, Instagram posts, and LinkedIn profile to emphasize the specific traits that will build your desired image. All social media accounts should be themed, presenting a unified brand to your followers on all platforms.
3. Market your authenticity
So, let’s say you have crafted a brand image that presents you as a 20-something copywriter with a passion for cooking and an unhealthy relationship with foodie blogs. Ultimately, you hope to target blogs, websites, and agencies that specialize in top-tier food and lifestyle clients. Aligning your passion for food with your skills in writing will allow you to craft alluring content that directly targets the niche that you hope to penetrate. It is important to market your sincere excitement about whatever it is you are talking about, whether that is food, fashion, politics (although, steer clear of anything that could be alienating), or art. The Internet age presents unique obstacles to standing out and being noticed. Original, tight, and targeted content reflect authenticity and inspire interest and respect. Allowing your ‘voice’ to come through in your content will make you feel real and personable.
This step is painfully simple. A personal brand means nothing if no one can engage with it. Use the technology at your fingertips. Manipulate social media platforms to cultivate a community around your brand. Research, follow, and engage with similar accounts and professional pages. Join corporate community groups and leverage every possible opportunity to connect. ‘Networking’ has recently taken on a bit of a negative connotation; therefore, it is crucial to remain genuine and passionate in every interaction. Bring business cards, but share them sparingly. Ensure that the cards align with your personal brand and direct people to your social media platforms, digital portfolio, and blog if applicable.
A successful brand is one that frequently reinvents itself. Look towards the future and transform according to industry trends. Maintain your core values, mission, and theme, but be adaptable.
Written by Sydney Van Kerrebroeck