Today, the road to a successful career not only includes the "offline" steps, it also involves an online journey. In fact, whether you're looking for your first job or expanding your career into the digital sphere, you should know that personal branding can help you stand out in the market. But how do you go about creating your personal brand? What should you pay attention to? And how does personal branding really work, anyway? We asked all these questions to Silvia Pettinicchio, a professional marketing & communications expert.
What is personal branding
Silvia explains that although personal branding is a hot topic these days, it's actually a very old practice. Just as companies develop brands, a role that's been taken over by marketing for several decades now, personal branding is the practice of strategically positioning yourself in your own professional setting using images, skills, and experiences. "I always say that personal branding is built through a triad approach: knowing how do so something, doing it, and letting others know", says Silvia. "A personal brand that works consists of more than just messaging and images." First of all, it should be founded on your skills, talents, and experience; only afterwards should you start thinking about communicating all of this to others." People who build their personal brand solely on the basis of messaging or appearances and putting themselves out there at all costs, but don't have in-depth skills in their field back it up, end up being exposed sooner or later. That means anyone with talent and experience should learn to have an online presence too, otherwise they risk remaining in the shadows and losing out on recognition, despite their skills.
Who should create a personal brand, and when
No fields are excluded from personal branding: everybody should develop their brand. Whether you're a professional, a business person, or you're employed by an institution... As well as those of you seeking to build a career and find clients or higher-quality colleagues and collaborators. As your visibility grows, so will your influence. You don't need to have a personal profile on every social media network. Having a website is one of the first steps to take once you've clearly defined the field and sector in which you want to use your skills to become "influential". Then, you'll need to evaluate how much time you have, and choose the most appropriate platforms accordingly: it's better to have fewer profiles online, but always keep them updated, than to have old, deserted accounts all over the place.
How do create a personal brand: strategies and techniques for best marketing yourself
Silvia continues," First of all, you'll need to identify your talents, skills, and what sets you apart from your competition. In marketing, we call this your 'Unique Value Propositon'". Building your narrative also involves a triad approach: talent/skills, passion, target market. In order to be effective, you'll need to analyze yourself, identify your strong points, your talents and skills, and choose which ones are your strongest, those you are most passionate about. This will help you be more incisive and credible when you speak and create your content. Finally, you'll need to choose a market for your talents, or rather, a gap in the market: a need, or a problem which your talent can resolve, which you'll obviously connect to an economic value.
Need an example? Maybe you're a photographer and you're particularly passionate about wedding or event photography. You've developed extensive experience in the field, and you are fully familiar with the needs and concerns of people looking to hire a photographer for their events. Once you've identified your talent and your audience, you can create a website or blog that respond to the needs of your target market, highlighting your skills. To do this, you'll need an editorial plan: planning out your content, organizing it by topic, channel, and dates, which will help you methodically grow your visibility.
Next: joining discussions on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn can also add credibility to your opinions, and help you start to build your personal brand across different channels.
The powers of personal branding: its benefits
As you can see, personal branding is a powerful tool. Silvia often uses a metaphor to explain it. "Imagine being in a very crowded room, full of people who are dressed the same, maybe in grey, who are all the same height and are all speaking at once. Now imagine that you grab a step stool and put on a red suit. As soon as you step on that stool wearing that suit and start talking, something magical happens: people will immediately notice you and listen to you." That's the idea behind a good personal branding strategy: improving your chances of being noticed and heard.
To conclude, in today's society personal branding is crucial for obtaining that "extra something" that others may not have. A carefully managed website and positioning on social media channels are two easy steps that will help you succeed.