How and Why You Should Launch a Personal Brand
By Joe Binder
It was March 2013 and I was in sixth form at JFS when I took part in Young Enterprise. Our company was called Enigma and our product was Slodge, a personalised fingerprint bracelet. I was in sales. It was a great learning experience: I saw first hand the difficulties of being part of a big team, the struggle to get our product the right attention and how hard it was to know if our product was good enough to sell. A highlight from one of our team’s reports: ‘We have made sales of £103.50 and purchases of £145 giving us a gross loss of just under -£30.’ Ouch. I hope some of you had more luck than we did!
If I was doing Young Enterprise now, I’d make the most of social media by using my personal brand to market the product and build my personal online community. Here are some tips to get you started…
What will a personal brand do for me?
Social media - especially LinkedIn - is an excellent tool for networking. It puts your name out there. Getting your profile in front of potential clients or employers is one thing, but it’s just as important to make sure that your profile packs a punch.
This is where your personal brand comes in. It’s really just your reputation online. Building a personal brand that makes it clear what you do and makes a memorable impression is the first step to becoming the go-to person for what you’re good at. It builds your credibility and shows employers that you’re a serious young professional who would be an asset to (and a good representative of) their company. And it shows off your social media marketing skills - which are in high demand with employers.
Step 1 - Sum up your brand
Your tagline should sum up your brand. It sits under your name on LinkedIn (or in your bio on other platforms) so it’s the first thing people will read about you. Mine is currently ‘Building Personal Brands for Founders and CEOs’, which tells people exactly what I do and who I do it for.
Step 2 - A bold and professional profile pic
Look straight into the camera. Smile, but make sure you look professional. Having the same photo across all platforms, from Insta to your email, makes your brand strong and your face memorable. My top tip: a consistent background without too much detail can help your pic stand out. It separates your face from the backdrop and helps people recognise you faster.
Step 3 - Make your socials employer-friendly
I’m not saying that you can’t have fun pictures on Instagram. But think about it: if someone saw your casual uploads on Instagram, do you think it would change their perception of you? If so, consider making it private. After all, 70% of employers use social media to choose between job applicants. Think about using LinkedIn for your public professional persona - they have some great advice for students.
Step 4 - Start posting
Start as soon as you can. Take pictures throughout the process, whether it’s a team meeting or out selling your product. Update your online community on your project’s progress at every milestone. It may not seem like the most interesting piece of content out there, but trust me, you’ll learn lots from the process of posting content and people will show interest!
Step 5 - Share, comment, like, repeat
Liking and commenting on other people’s posts is important for getting your name out there. It shows your enthusiasm and puts your name and picture on more people’s screens. Plus, if you reach out to someone later, they might be more likely to respond if they recognise your name and photo.
Step 6 - Be honest
There’s no need to pretend things are going brilliantly if they’re not. Social media is full of people pretending their lives are going perfectly. It’s important to share your challenges as well as your triumphs. But I can’t stress this enough: stay professional. Rather than posting, ‘We made a loss, this is a disaster!’, write, ‘This has been a challenging experience and this is what we learned from it’.
The world isn’t going to end if you share a post that gets no likes. I know it can feel daunting to work hard on something that doesn’t get a great reception, but it’s part of the process. You need to feel okay with getting minimal engagement at the start.
The best thing you can do is jump into it. Social media can be an amazing tool for building a career or a business if it’s used safely and effectively. I can’t wait to see the creative ways that you’re going to use your new personal brands!