Five fast personal branding challenges for 2017

- Entrepreneurial Skills

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by Jennifer Riggins

We are kicking off 2017 with focusing on the success of your small business. Because, really, if you aren’t successful, you won’t be happy at work for long now, will ya? Plus pesky things like paying employees and providers are essential for meeting the bare minimum to then be able to look for employee engagement and satisfaction.

Why is your personal branding important?

If you want to do what you love and find the job you love, you need your own brand. That means you yourself, not the company you work for — unless perhaps if you’re a Jobs, Benioff or Zuckerberg, where they’re interlocked— but what you portray to the world and how you tell your story.

So let’s explore just how to express your personal brand online.

What is your personal brand?

Your personal brand is the total of you — mostly the professional side with a bit of personality. It’s how you tell your story within the confines of whatever medium you’re on. This story includes your background and your experience, but also your values and your aspirations.

Your brand is not your resume or C.V. (I’m not even convinced those two-dimensional boxes should exist anymore.)

And your brand isn’t overwhelming with too much information. It is streamlined so it gives a taste of who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going, and keeps them wanting more.

#NoExcuses: Mini personal branding challenges

Personal Branding Challenge #1: Fix your face.


Your brand has a certain look. It’s your face. Yet, a lot of the time folks mess this up. They have an avatar or a picture with their dog or their kids. Or your logo. Nope. Your brand is your face — just your real face. Preferably smiling and sporting clothes appropriate to your industry. Since I work mostly in tech, my headshot should be fun, funky, casual, with a touch of geek. If you’re an investment banker, you’re going to be a lot more formal.
Note: If you don’t have a Twitter or LinkedIn profile pic, I’m not going to follow or accept your connection. Don’t do what this person who followed me is doing — this just screams SPAM.

And make sure that it really looks like the real you, especially the you that attends events. I used to have a headshot from my (rather casual) wedding, but people weren’t recognizing me at events. Why? Because I always wear glasses (that touch of geek) at work events but wasn’t wearing them that day. People didn’t connect the me they met in person with my brand portrayed online.

Found or taken the right pic? Now it’s time to use the same one everywhere in your professional public. This doesn’t have to mean your personal Facebook, but definitely if you have a public Facebook or Twitter, certainly on your LinkedIn profile.

Just remember, as we increasingly use our Google, Outlook, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to log in somewhere, whatever photo you have there will carry over to another place.

Personal Branding Challenge #2: Craft your headline.


LinkedIn — the dynamic more awesome version of your C.V. or resume — does something really annoying automatically. Anytime you add a new job to your profile, it puts that job title as your headline. But, 90 percent of the time, you aren’t the job you do and you aren’t the company you work for. You always need to manually update your headline.

Craft your LinkedIn headline. Keep it under 50 characters (so it doesn’t get cut off on the mobile app.) And make sure it hits the right keyword phrases for the roles you play. You are in fact probably many things so composing it of three or four roles and keyword phrases.

Note, LinkedIn isn’t the cleverest of search engines (but it is a really valuable search engine.) It doesn’t really understand punctuation, except commas and periods. So separate these phrases either with commas or the trendy pipe — “|” this sort of extended lowercase L, putting spaces around it.

What’s especially good about this exercise is that your LinkedIn headline can be your sort of elevator pitch. It allows you in one or two sentences to describe who you are and your value proposition, perfect in networking events and quick conversations. It can also be repurposed in other social media marketing and online profiles.

Personal Branding Challenge #3: Create a memorable blurb

Again, this starts out as your 160-character or less Twitter profile and then can be repurposed for cover letters, LinkedIn summaries, and the like.
We already shared this great trick by branding expert Phil Pallen but this challenge day we’re actually going to do it! Your Twitter profile, and general blurb, should be two sentences:

  1. Your value proposition. What you do and what you can do for someone else.
  2. What makes you memorable. Something memorable of your personality, bonus points if it’s funny.

You can add a few hashtags that are appropriate to your field, but don’t go filling your profile with links, hashtags and mentions that make it hyperlink blue and illegible.

At the time I attended his talk, Phil’s Twitter profile was this: “Brand strategist for TV personalities, experts and businesses. If your baby is ugly, it’s my job to tell you.” Slight bummer @PhilPallen’s profile has been updated more recently to be a bit less fun, but professional.
But what is exciting is that Phil created a video that describes himself in 50 seconds — a modern, interactive elevator pitch — sharing what he does and his passion for it.

Personal Branding Challenge #4: Manage your links

First, ask yourself, where is the most important place for you to send traffic to? Which social network, blog, or website best expresses your brand and are you willing to keep up to date? That should be where you go all-in on, adding it to your Twitter profile, your company website on LinkedIn, your email footer, everywhere!

And I would argue that it shouldn’t be a social media profile or a Medium because, well, those sites don’t need more SEO (search engine optimization, how Google finds you) and you never know when you could lose control over them.

Next for SEO and consistency, make sure you include that URL — full with http:// — everywhere so you get a backlink out of it, especially including Google’s own YouTube and Slideshare, where you should upload any public talks.

Finally, since you’re browsing all your different brands, make sure your contact info is up to date on all these pages. And appropriate, sometimes your phone number will pop up in, say, your LinkedIn profile and you may not want it there. And to the opposite, you don’t want to include email addresses you never check.

Personal Branding Challenge #5: Recruit your advocates

Traditionally #FF or #FollowFriday is a good day to ask for something from the advocates of your brand. It may be a LinkedIn recommendation (this is a time-consuming and arduous, yet important process). Add up to 50 LinkedIn skills (top ten first) and ask for endorsements. Perhaps ask for a retweet of something important to you.

It’s OK to ask for something, so long as you give as well, so don’t forget to retweet!

Picture by Jakob Owens (Unsplash)

One thought on "Five fast personal branding challenges for 2017"

  • Manjit Singh says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips. They make sense; I like them.
    I plan to start implementing these starting now!!

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