We’ve been looking at personal branding –
why it’s important when you’re running your business, how you can go about crafting your story, and how to get comfortable with selling. So you’re ready now to start building your personal brand, right? Well, before you go mad with creating videos and blog posts and other content, it’s worth conducting a brand assessment to review your brand as it stands today.
Okay, Google: what’s my personal brand?
This is officially an excuse to Google yourself! (Like you haven’t done it already?!!) This is often the first thing people will do when trying to find you – either by name or by business – and so you want to know what they’ll find.
Questions to ask yourself include…
- Do you appear at all in the first few search results? Are there other people or businesses that share your name and dominate the results?
- What comes up first? Is it your personal Facebook profile, your LinkedIn page, your website…?
- What do you find on the images tab? Are there any pictures of you and, if so, are they pictures that you want your professional contacts to see?
If the image that’s being presented on Google is not in line with the story you want to tell about yourself and your business – or, just as likely, there’s no trace of you on Google at all – then you have some work to do.
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What’s the story on social media?
Once you’ve had a look at Google, you can “double click” on the links that appear and, in particular, dig deeper into your various social profiles.
Take a look at…
- Facebook – While some may be moving away from Facebook, it’s still a massive platform and if you’ve been active there at some time in the past then chances are there are echoes of those party photos and moans about your boss still to be found online. Make sure you review your privacy settings; consider deleting those old photos; and, if you haven’t already, now is the time to set up a separate business page.
- LinkedIn – If you’re not active on LinkedIn, that´s a mistake: it’s an absolutely crucial platform when you’re running your own business. A lot of people leaving the corporate world may be reluctant to declare their new career direction but it’s not helpful when your profile says you’re a full-time manager or director at X company while you’re reaching out to people to try to see your new X services. Make sure at a minimum that your profile is up to date and in line with your story.
- Instagram – Another key platform for many types of businesses, and a very visual one, is Instagram. If you have a profile, and it’s public: what kind of images are you sharing there? A bit of personality and “behind the scenes” is great and, in fact, desirable, but you still want to make sure it fits into the story you’re trying to tell. Try to get the balance right between professional content and adding that personal touch.
Obviously, you’ll need to repeat this process with all your channels where you have a public social presence, making a note of any changes you want to make.
Is your website all it should be?
When you’re starting out in your new business, you’ll often get caught up in designing a professional website, spending money on custom development and time on constantly tweaking the copy. It’s worth saying, though – and I say this as a digital marketer who spent years working on website projects! – that you can run a business these days without a website. Having said that, your website is the one place you completely control online, it’s your chance to really tell your story as you want it to be told, and it can serve as a hub to which all your other channels lead.
Take a look at…
- Your home page – What is the first impression someone will get when landing on your website (you can always ask some people who don’t know you or what you do to get objective feedback)? What’s the key message that comes across? Is that message supported by the images that are being used? And is there a clear “call to action” or next step you want them to take (e.g. contact you, follow you on Facebook, sign up your newsletter…)?
- Your about page – An “about page” used to be the most boring corporate page of all on a company website; with businesses focusing more on their purpose and mission, however, and especially with a personal business and brand that you´re running yourself, the about page becomes absolutely critical to telling your story and, of course, a core part of your personal brand. What does your page say about you (and, more importantly, how is that relevant to your audience and the services you are selling)? Does it communicate your values, your skills and strengths, and your credibility and authority in the field?
- Your services page – Review any pages that talk about how people can work with you and see if they are really bringing to life your story, how you help people and the results that they can expect to get. Again, do they communicate your specific skills and strengths, are there testimonials from past clients and how else are you reassuring people that you are the right person to support them?
Of course, this whole audit is just a very first step, a baseline from which you will move forwards to craft your online personal brand. I hope these pointers will already have given you some indications as to how you can begin to tweak and evolve your different channels; and, over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking this to the next level to really look at how you can start creating and sharing content across your different channels to truly bring to life your personal brand and get you the business results that you’re after.