September 7, 2012
Five Tips for Personal Branding
Five Tips From the Pros
It used to be that solid work experience, a fine-tuned resume and just the right interview attire were enough to make the right impression with a prospective employer.
But changes in employment trends and technology have placed added importance on the way professionals package and present themselves, particularly in the digital world. Now it’s important to think about practical ways to enhance your professional persona online.
At the recent Career Insights event on personal branding, hosted by UW Professional & Continuing Education, three noted career experts offered audience members practical tips for massaging their personal brands into shape.
The panel included Microsoft senior technical specialist Buck Woody, author and freelance writer Michelle Goodman and career coach and counselor Matt Youngquist.
Here are the top takeaways from their presentations.
Personal Branding in a Highly Competitive Market: Lessons From a Geek (Buck Woody)
Tips and examples on how to better position yourself as a professional.
1. You should think of building up your online brand as “nothing more than controlling what others think of you,” Woody said. To that end, it should center around your passions and your ability to communicate that passion to others.
2. The first step in taking control of your brand is to purchase a domain name – a Web address where you can put up a site that can be readily found by anyone looking to learn more about you. Be sure to include a brief bio, a resume and work samples.
3. Use social media channels like Twitter to “not just promote yourself, but promote the idea of yourself that you want others to have,” Woody said.
4. When conveying your expertise and passions, do so purposefully. Woody likens his approach to the way elite athletes fuel themselves before an all-important workout. They load up on a fixed ratio of protein, carbs and fat to perform at their best. To craft your personal brand, you’ll need to think with the same mindset – make every choice deliberately.
A Freelancer's Approach to Personal Branding (Michelle Goodman)
Michelle Goodman offers a freelancer's perspective on personal branding.
1. Identify a professional niche to serve as the foundation for your personal brand. For Goodman, that niche is business journalism and copywriting.
2. Once you’ve identified your niche, be clear and concise when communicating it on your website, through social media and even with your email signature. Think about what words define what it is that you do. What type of language would pique the interest of potential clients and employers? Goodman points to writer Jennifer Worick’s website as a good example.
3. Make sure that your descriptions and tone stay consistent across your online marketing and brand material. You might consider creating a short tagline and a visual hook that can be used uniformly as well.
4. When writing your online bio, don’t be afraid to take chances and give it some added spunk. There’s no bigger turnoff to readers than: “I've been doing X for five years and am good at Y.”
5. Maintain a polished online portfolio so you can share your projects if need be. Free services like Behance make it easy to show off your work, or find inspiration from others.
LinkedIn and How to Maximize Your Brand (Matt Youngquist)
Matt Youngquist talks about using LinkedIn to strengthen your personal brand.
1. Youngquist wasn’t shy about letting audience members take a peek at his LinkedIn account. On the topmost part of the screen was a notification informing Youngquist of his 918 unread messages, all of them invitations to connect from other LinkedIn users. “Social media is about relationships, not technology,” he said, explaining that he’ll never accept an invitation unless it accompanies a personalized message. When growing your online network, he suggests doing the very same.
2. Take advantage of all the features LinkedIn has to offer. For example, use a good, professional photo, preferably of you smiling. Make sure to fill in the Headline field with a line that clearly explains what it is that you specialize in – and make it interesting. According to Youngquist, about half of LinkedIn users leave the Summary section blank, a missed opportunity.
3. Try to use industry-specific terms when coming up with LinkedIn keywords for your profile. It’s a good way to help recruiters and employers find you.
4. Establish yourself as a subject-matter expert by joining groups that match your professional interests. Consider responding to questions through the Answers feature.
UW Professional & Continuing Education events feature career-related panel discussions, open houses, portfolio shows and more. They are free, informative and great places to network. Watch for details about upcoming events by signing up for our monthly newsletter, checking our events page or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.