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How to make your personal brand work for you

Have you ever wondered what people say about you when you are not there? According to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, "your brand is what people are saying about you when you are not in the room". Some people cringe at the thought of what may be said, but you have the power to influence these perceptions simply by building your personal brand.

What is a personal brand?

Branding is a crucial part of success. Think of the biggest companies in the world today; these brands stand out from the crowd. Until recently, brand identity was aligned exclusively to the business world. But we now know that almost anything or anyone can have, or be, a brand, including celebrities, political parties, and even you!

Your personal brand is what makes you unique. These are characteristics that people associate with you. It may be your voice, your fashion sense or your compassion. Personal branding does not involve being fake and putting up an act or show. It's about creating the perceptions you want, just like professional branding.

Why is personal branding important?

Personal branding is very important if you want to stand out among thousands of job seekers. It requires time and effort to develop and involves your being proactive in controlling how you develop your career and how you are perceived in the marketplace. A personal brand is therefore a way to attract opportunities.

Cultivating your personal brand

Step 1: Decide on a platform

You need a place from which to market yourself. This could be on a social media account such as YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, or a personal website where you can interact with your fans and followers.

Step 2: Focus on your strengths

Understand your strengths, what makes you unique from everyone else. Just like a business, marketing yourself requires you to be aware of who you are.

Step 3: Become an authority

Once you know what makes you different and what your strengths are, home in on an area that interests you. Learn as much as possible about the topic and share your thoughts as an authority through videos, social media and blog posts.

Step 4: Set priorities

The whole point behind branding is to establish a goal and attain it. Your goal may be to grow a loyal following, conclude more sales deals or increase profits. Think about what it is you want and let that be your guiding principle in determining the direction you'll take.

Step 5: Be yourself

There is only one you in this entire world. This is the most important part about personal branding. You have to be yourself. Don't follow the crowd. The more you are yourself, the more successful you are likely to be.

Step 6: Be consistent

Define who you are from the start and stay consistent. Although it's possible to evolve over time, people must be able to recognise your brand.

Remember, personal branding is not just about selling or marketing yourself. It's the best way to make sure that people perceive you as the person you want to be. Unfortunately, others may consider it bragging or self-promotion, but personal branding is actually all about taking charge of your reputation.

Written by Karabo Keepile