When was the last time you googled your own name? Try it now and study the search results. Is the first page filled with your career accomplishments and social media profiles that increase the credibility of your personal brand and prove your value, or is it dominated by awkward childhood photos and embarrassing old comments left on sites you don’t even visit anymore?
Unless you’ve been cultivating a personal brand, it’s probably the latter. Even though just about every company understands the importance of branding, many people still wrongly assume that personal branding is something only A-list celebrities with managers and PR teams do.
In reality, everyone has a personal brand—whether they realize it or not. It’s just that some take control over it, while others let it live its own life. Let’s take a closer look at five reasons why personal branding has become a necessity in the age of the individual for everyone, from A-list celebrities to freelancers.
1. A Personal Brand Helps You Define Who You Are
Life presents us with many crossroads, and it’s not always immediately obvious which path we should take. Unless you know who you are and understand your own goals, you may embark on the wrong path and get further away from the place you want to be. Worse, you may become paralyzed by the choice in front of you and end up stuck in the same place, instead of moving forward and living your best life.
Cultivating a personal brand forces you to define who you are and set your personal and professional goals. This will, in turn, make it easier for you to decide which path to take the next time you arrive at an important crossroad in your life.
2. A Personal Image Makes You More Visible
Professionals sometimes avoid social media because they don’t want to create a negative personal brand by rubbing someone the wrong way after leaving a comment below a controversial post or publishing something that could come back to haunt them in the future. But disappearing from the internet is never the right choice.
In this day and age, visibility is essential because competition has never been fierce. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you live, there is always someone else ready to steal your clients or take your job. If you make yourself invisible and don’t actively cultivate a personal brand, it’s almost guaranteed that you will miss out on great opportunities to advance your career and achieve your goals, especially considering that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process.
3. A Name Increases Your Value
People support certain brands because they reflect their values and beliefs. If you care deeply about the environment, you wouldn’t buy a product from a company that is known for causing environmental issues with its bad business practices. Instead, you would buy a similar product from a company that cares about the environment just as much as you do.
Likewise, you need to communicate your values and beliefs to convince your target audience that you’re the right person for the job, someone that shares the same mentality as they do. Most employers and customers would much rather work with someone they personally like than someone who is slightly more qualified.
4. Reputation Builds Trust
Trust is everything in business and life, and people are far more likely to trust someone they know than someone who lives a very private life. However, trust takes a long time to build, which is why it’s best to start building it as soon as possible with personal branding.
Creating a trustworthy personal brand is a lot like creating a trustworthy business. You need to provide value while acting ethically and in the best interest of your target audience. Yes, it’s a long road to embark on, but the destination at its end is worth the effort.
5. Your Personal Brand Expands Your Professional Network
Building a personal brand has one fantastic side-effect: it attracts like-minded individuals who are interested in what you have to say. That’s not the same as gaining Instagram or Twitter followers or adding a bunch of Facebook friends. Connecting with like-minded professionals can lead to real-world meetings, collaborations, partnerships, and even work opportunities.
If you’re great at what you do, you may even capture the attention of someone very influential in your industry, and do so without initiating the contact and feeling like a beggar. Always remember that you don’t need to be a CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company to create a rockstar personal brand.
Regardless of your industry, the benefits of personal branding to your life and career are numerous and ignoring them a death sentence in this day and age. The good news is that creating a personal brand has never been easier, so the doors to new opportunities are wide open to anyone who dares to enter.