Personal branding took long to gain traction. In the beginning, most people didn’t really take the concept too seriously and some didn’t even pay any attention to it.
However, the concept has come a long way since the term was originally coined by Tom Peters, way back in 1997. Yes, personal branding is officially celebrating its 20th birthday this year.
The uptake was initially because the circumstances surrounding the concept weren’t really formed yet 20, 15 or even 10 years ago. For instance, back in 2005, even Fast Company Magazine – where the term first saw the light of day – expressed concerns that PB wasn’t really a thing.
During those days, people still felt secure in their careers and a vast majority of them worked alongside their peers in an office. More importantly, the Internet was only starting to become a world-wide phenomenon and the iPhone was still two years away.
Moreover, according to data provided by the United States Census, the World Wide Web didn’t penetrate more than 80% of households in the country until three years ago.
With new technological advances, PB got the oxygen it needed to live. However, this still doesn’t answer our question – should you take personal branding seriously after all?
Before we dive into the subject, we should define what PB actually is, and the best way to do this is to take a look at a couple of noticeable examples.
For instance, just look at Martha Stuart – she’s one of many people who managed to realize the importance of personal branding early on in their careers. She started working on her image at an early age, which helped her build a business around it.
Her working-class parents thought her skills like cooking, sewing and gardening, and she took those skills and used them to become a pioneer the DIY cooking industry.
Mark Cuban and Richard Branson are also famous for their outlandish personalities and personal brand. Heck, even the current US president managed to capitalize from his personal brand and use it to win the last year‘s presidential elections – at least in part.
All in all, personal brand experience will provide you an opportunity to learn more about yourself and identify your unique set of skills, talents and strengths that separate you from people in the industry.
While some people don’t work on their personal brands, it still exists. So let’s answer the question from the title of this article – yes, personal brands definitely matter in today’s day and age – and you should pay at least some attention to it, and cultivate it.
You see, the days of having one job for more than 20 years are long gone. In fact, according to a recent BLS report, Baby Boomers average more than 11 jobs over their lives. Moreover, Millennials are probably going to average even more.
Now let’s talk about your digital footprint – in short, your digital footprint is everything you do online. So if someone leaves a comment on your post or even writes a post about you, it becomes a part of your digital footprint. And just like your PB – even if you don’t know – you have a digital footprint.
As a matter of fact, according to an AVG study, today even children under two years old have a digital footprint of their own. So the question now is not should you have a brand but should you nurture it to create something strong and meaningful.
So if you want to start working on your personal brand and try to establish yourself as a key figure in your industry, there are a couple of things you can to speed things up:
You probably already have a couple of social media accounts, but you have to maintain them on a regular basis. For instance, you can use Facebook to talk about your personal life and LinkedIn to join groups of people with same interests. Some even employ an advertising agency to make this look more professional.
You can always build a personal blog and write about your personal experiences in your niche. For example, you could start writing leadership articles to project an image of a credible person with a lot of experience in the industry. And if you want to boost your posts, and make them more visible on Google, you can either learn the basics of SEO or hire an advertising agency to do the dirty work for you.
While you already have a number of outlets to express your opinions and establish yourself as an influencer, buying a personal domain name will put your name on top of search engines and put you in front of people’s eyes. And the website doesn’t even have to be too complex – you can do it on your own, in your free time using WordPress.
Once you start nurturing your personal brand, you cannot just stop mid-way – you have to stay determined and remain consistent for years. That’s the key word here – consistency – you’ll definitely agree that consistency is vital to the success of any business.
Therefore, you need to set up Google Alerts for your name and check your online presence on a daily basis. And if something harmful to your name and brand comes up, you have to make an effort to remove it completely before it hurts you.
And remember – your personal brand isn’t limited to your online presence. Even when you step out of your house or office, try to stay professional and be nice to people you meet. Just present yourself as a presentable, down-to-earth person who’s easy to talk to.
I’m sure that you agree that these are very simple habits that don’t require much effort, but they will surely polish your reputation and enhance your personal brand. With these habits, people will flock to endorse your personal brand both offline and online for years to come.
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