When you start venturing into a professional field, it immediately hits you - there are 5 to 10 professionals that you follow closely. You probably trust their every word, you take their advice, test techniques they are suggesting and use the gadgets they recommend. The question is: How can you be that leading figure for others in your field? Welcome to the exciting, demanding and often a counter-intuitive world of personal branding!
I have been building my personal reputation as a digital communications specialist for some 10 years now and I can tell you: It’s an uphill battle and you have to be in it for the long haul. But it surely is worth it and the opportunities you can unlock are tremendous.
The good thing is that nowadays we have all kinds of tech solutions on our side, so building your personal brand can be much better organized. Here are some of my favorite tools.
Tools for creating your personal brand
Shakespeare famously asks “What’s in a name?” - I really don’t know, but I know what’s in a Twitter handle. It makes no sense to be “johnnysmith” on one network and “smithj” on another, so make sure you keep a consistent naming convention for all your top channels. Test out your desired personal brand name with Namechk to see what social media it’s available on.
You got a great Twitter handle? Good, now write something there! That’s where Grammarly comes in. It’s a great tool to run your public communication through, in order to make sure you eliminate any pesky mistakes in your texts. It’s very handy, especially (but not only) if you’re not a native English speaker. Combine it with Hemingway to improve both your grammar and phrasing skills.
Being a person dealing with words means I’m not a natural when it comes to design. Canva helps me a lot with building the visual side of my brand. My top suggestion here is to focus on 2-3 templates you like, make them yours by adding your signature color, font or logo and be consistent with visual messaging.
The second best thing to having your own personal website is having an outstanding resume. This is not just a tool for job hunting - it can be a great collateral material you can send to media you want to write for, events you want to speak at or presentations in front of potential clients.
Tools for monitoring your personal brand
Googling yourself from time to time is a great habit you need to develop, but it’s not scalable enough. Set up Google Alerts for your name and any news you appear in will come straight to your inbox. Make sure you also include any common misspellings of your name or type it in different languages (a woe Cyrillic alphabet users across the world would be familiar with).
This tool does the same thing Google Alerts does, but for social media mentions, as well. Getting everything in your email is very handy! The tool has a great free plan and if you’re still early in building your personal brand, it’ll be completely enough to track all mentions.
If you’re active on Twitter - and let’s face it, that’s still the place where thought leaders gather - you can keep everything in one place with TweetDeck. I rely heavily on Twitter lists to interact with different groups and I found it’s a great way to focus on specific topics and do more in less time.
Many digital practitioners have mixed feelings about Klout - the methodology they use for calculating their score is discussed a lot. But it’s still a good way to assess performance over time. Don’t look at the absolute score that much - just notice if you’re doing better or worse and act accordingly.
Tools for extending your personal brand
Let’s face it - you can’t be active on all channels all the time. Buffer allows you to schedule messages for different social media and post updates at your audience’s most active time of day.
Just a tip there: don’t just post the title of the article and the link, add some value by sharing what you found interesting in the piece. That’s how you build true thought leadership.
The tool’s name is the abbreviation of “if this then that” - and this is pretty much how it works. You can make a variety of recipes to automate your online channels - just choose a trigger event and the action that’s performed after, on the same network or not. The applications of IFTTT are pretty numerous - you can start by checking out their top recipes for social media.
A recent discovery of mine, Meetup lists interesting events in your area. It’s a great way to continue with brand building offline - a less scalable, but very effective way of doing things. You will meet new people, find new niche communities. Hey, you can even muster the courage of speaking at one (and don’t forget to show your Enhancv speaker profile!)
Did I miss anything?
Are you already working on your personal brand? What tools do you turn to for help? Share your favorites in the comments below!