How do I build a personal brand?

Have you ever been told that you didn’t get the job, or win a pitch, because “people don’t know you?” Or perhaps the opposite happened – they went with someone else because their name had more “gravitas”.

These days, you don’t need to be a New York Times bestseller or jumped on a TED stage to have a presence in your industry.

Anyone can now build up a position of authority and have a personal brand.


What is a personal brand?

What does “personal brand” mean to you? To many, they think of celebrities, like Kim Kardashian. She’s got a fantastic personal brand.

But you don’t have to be Kim K to have your own personal brand. Plus, the odds are, you probably want one a little different to the one she has. Plus, you also probably haven’t been on TV since you were a kid and from a family who are all famous too. Probably.

So, what is a personal brand for us normal people?

A personal brand is how you show up to other people. It shows them who you are and what you stand for.

Therefore, it’s more than just what you post on social media, but it’s how people talk about you and what they think you represent.

What are the benefits of a strong personal brand?

Jeff Bezos once said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

He was actually referring to a company brand at the time, but it now can relate to a personal brand.

How do people talk about when you’re not there? Have you ever walked into an event and they say “Oh, we were just talking about you?” Or, got a message on LinkedIn because “someone mentioned you at a party”.

That’s a personal brand.

You’re talked about just like a household name, recommended when someone brings up a topic that you’re an expert in.

You land opportunities that you don’t even know exist!

So why is a personal brand so powerful? Because you’re in charge of its narrative – you can control how you come across online and what people see and hear about you.

Is a personal brand only for entrepreneurs?

Many of the people showing up every day on social media to try and create a presence for themselves are usually entrepreneurs.

They run their own business and are solely responsible of bringing in the bacon. That’s why they’re showing up day and night to make an impact and get themselves out there.

But a personal brand is not just for entrepreneurs.

Investing in your personal brand is the right thing to do for everyone.

Perhaps you want to shift jobs; then write about the type of job you want. Show people how passionate you are about the subject and continually immerse yourself in that industry.

Maybe you want a promotion? If you’re providing thought leadership in your industry and attracting eyes to your profile, then this is attractive to your company and could help land that promotion.

Even if you don’t have a job yet and you’re looking for one, having a personal brand will help you stand out in a very crowded market.

Regardless of who you are and where you are in your career, building your personal brand is just protecting your future.

So, how do I build a personal brand?

Here are my 5 basic steps to creating your personal brand:

  1. Self-Reflection

The first thing you need to do is work out who you are, what you want to achieve and where you currently lie in the market.

What are your values and what do you stand for?

What makes you unique?

What have you already achieved in your industry?

  • Determine your target audience

Who do you want to connect with and influence? This will be very different depending on where you are in your career.

Job-seekers may be looking to attract certain companies that they wish to land a job with. Business owners are looking to sell their products/services to their customers and will want to talk to them.

Whoever they are, figure out their goals, values and pain points. How can you help them? This will help you create content that’s applicable to them.

  • Do an online audit

This part may be quite painful, but I think it’s a necessary step that many people miss out. If you’re going to build a personal brand, then you need to know what the internet already says about you.

Check out your social media profiles with an objective pair of eyes – ask for outside help if needed. What do they say about you? How could you improve on them?

Check out what articles have been written about you and where your contributions have already been featured.

You may be surprised that your name is already featured in lots of high-profile places. This will help speed things up because you can contact them when you want to boost your personal brand. 

  • Create content

There’s no way around it; to build your personal brand, you have to create a lot of content. Now, the type of content is up to you.

You certainly do not have to produce videos if you don’t like being in front of the camera. Sure, some people have made it big on YouTube and there are TikTokers dancing like crazy, but if it’s not for you, then that’s OK.

You can stick to written content – in the form of a blog, social media posts etc.

Test out different channels – the various social media channels, your own website, blogs like Medium, or even some specialised forums.

Every person is different and each industry will vary in what works.

You have to just get out there and create content and see what works.

  • Engage

This is probably the most important part, as many people “post and ghost”. Creating content is not enough!

You need to show up and engage with your community and keep a continuous dialogue going.

This is what builds up real relationships and how your personality comes out. Try to make time each week for engagement as it’s just as important as creating the content.