Editors note: This piece was written by Victoria Stunt, who supports the MVP Award Blog.
Having a strong personal brand is more important than ever. It enables you to make important online connections, and garner your audience’s trust. It gives you a platform to increase your visibility, and heighten the chances of getting attention from the media, job recruiters or potential partners. Plus it shows people you are credible, human and ready to connect!
Constructing a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight; you need to build it brick by brick. Not sure where to start? Here’s a few steps to consider:
A great headshot
While it might be fun to share silly smartphone selfies with your friends, they shouldn’t be the face to your personal brand. It’s best to invest in a photographer to take some nice shots - they’ll help you find your good angles, and ensure you have good posture, which demonstrates your confidence.
And while ‘classic’ headshots against a plain background are great, more modern headshots are the perfect way to show off your personality. For example, if you’re a young freelance developer and want to show you are friendly and inviting, a modern headshot with more relaxed body-language might be the way to go. However if you’re an IT professional with years and years of experience, a classic headshot could show you’re knowledgeable and credible.
Be sure your headshot is recent, as people should be able to recognize you when they meet you in person. It is also a great idea to save photos of different sizes, shapes and formats to make it easy for publications or blogs to cover you - at the MVP Award Blog, we require square 200x200 photos, or horizontal ones at least 900px in width.
All in all, a great headshot is the face of your personal brand. Make sure it’s professional, and perceives the image you want to put out into the world.
A concise biography
Make it easy for people to learn about you! A great bio should always use short, concise sentences and start with the most eye-catching information first. Did you found a company with 1 million monthly users? Make sure to include that information off-the-bat, instead of writing about what school you graduated from, etc.
It’s a great idea to have a few different versions of your bio, too - including short and long versions, or a more formal version. If you’re publishing the bio on your website, it’s okay for it to be a bit longer but keep in mind most people won’t read beyond 15 seconds. If you’re submitting your bio with a content contribution, make it short. The MVP Award Blog asks for about 75 words, or 4-5 sentences.
Most importantly, don’t give readers an information overload. There’s no need to list every book you’ve ever written or the half-dozen events you’ve spoken at - instead, link back to your author page on Amazon, your website or LinkedIn profile for more information. We like this list on HubSpot that goes through a few ways to creative structure a bio.
An active Twitter + LinkedIn
Haven’t tweeted since 2014? It’s time to jump back on the wagon. Maintaining an active Twitter account is a great way to show your audience you know your stuff, and you’re heavily engaged in how your industry is evolving. Twitter is arguably one of the best ways to stay up-to-date on industry news, and enables you to participate in conversations with other experts to comment on what’s happening in the field. When your audience see this, they’re more likely to view you as a leader in your space.
Likewise, sharing articles and publically conversing on LinkedIn will get you the same result. Staying active on the platform also brings forth many other perks - including catching the eye of future employers. In fact, according to the July LinkedIn Workforce Report, hiring on LinkedIn in the U.S. was up 12.1 percent in June 2017 compared to June 2016.
So how can you make sure you’re found on the platform? According to LinkedIn, members with profile photos receive 21x more views and 9x more requests to connect. Those with current positions are found 16x more in recruiter searches, and members with more than 5 skills listed are 27x more likely to be found. Make sure to check out LinkedIn Tips Articles for more ideas on how to best use the platform.
Look to further your industry expertise
Developing your expertise is great opportunity to grow your personal brand. Having a blog is one of the best ways to do it, on which you post thought-pieces, technical articles, or advice articles for your audience. When someone searches your name your blog will likely be the first thing to come up, demonstrating that you’re a credible and passionate leader in your space.
Another great option is submitting guest articles to reputable websites - just like what MVPs do with Technical Tuesday pieces. If a leading publication values your opinion enough to publish it, your audience is more likely to view you as knowledgeable. And more, other publications are likely to reach out and ask you to comment on topics you’re an expert in.
Speaking at events, organizing conferences and leading communities are also a great ways to build your brand. But remember, establishing yourself can take years! So start out slow, and keep working your way up.
These are just a few tips for those who want to start building a strong personal brand. Have some more ideas? Let us know your favorite in the comments below!
Victoria Stunt supports the MVP Award Blog and is a senior writer at Publicize PR. As a freelance journalist, her work on Latin America and technology has been featured in TechCrunch, The Economist, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, BBC World Service, among other places. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto.