Whether you're looking for a new job, hunting for new clients or grinding for a new promotion your personal brand is integral to your advancement and success. How people see you, how you communicate with them and the personal stamp you put on your work are the only ways companies and individuals can judge your quality.
1. Make a great first impression; online, in person, everywhere.
Making a great first impression is as important as ever and there are more places to make that impression than ever before. Sharpen up your Linkedin profile, remove photos that may be less than business-casual on your public Facebook wall and make sure that your Twitter persona is aligned with your personal values.
A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows that the first impression you make with someone is extremely important in how they perceive you. Even after weeks of constant interaction, the first impression plays a huge role in what how someone else thinks about what kind of person you are.
2. Get involved! Expanding your network and influence
When you take on new projects, or volunteer for a special event you are extending your brand. The more pools you have your feet in, the broader your influence spread. The longer you influence a group the more weight your opinions will carry. Get involved in more projects, achieve greater results and work with more people.
Expanding your personal brand also deals with more personal settings such as a conversation you might have with a co-worker. The way you carry yourself when you interact with others says a lot about you, always be sure to remain courteous and polite and try to remain genuinely interested in what others have to say in your outward appearance.
3. Your actions speak louder than words, or emotions
As you are building your personal brand, remaining professional is key to obtaining or keeping an executive level position. People who run businesses want someone in charge of large parts of their company to seem as though they are a natural fit for the job. This means having good people skills and the ability to make tough decisions while at the same time not letting emotions interfere with how you make a choice. If people at the office think of you primarily as a person who gets the job done and can always be counted on, you make yourself look much better for a promotion.
4. Your SEO ranking matters, improve it
These days, employers can Google your name and find out quite a bit of information about you. Try searching for yourself and see what comes up, if there is anything remotely negative about you visible in the first page, you will want do your best to bury the post, have the content removed or replaced with something more favourable.
To do this make sure you have fully updated profiles on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter to start with. The more you have the more messages you can directly control. If you have a personal blog you can duplicate it on a separate blog host, you could also build a personal website for yourself.
If you have a common name finding a way to distinguish yourself is tricky. Make sure to identify yourself within your profession, or region on subjects or bios that you write. Remember images are searchable too, so apply the same bio-writing techniques to your these as well.
5. Be kind to people
Your politness, ability to empathise and ability to listen will help you more today than ruthless opportunism ever could.
This doesn't mean don't call a spade a spade, but your are going to do it constructively. In business and in life when you hurt someone intentionally the results can be destructive, if possible it is best to avoid doing so entirely.
As Machiavelli put it, "Men (sic) ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed." However, we live in a world of morals, where ones' utter destruction isn't tolerated or looked on well.
Today, with social media and smartphones the maxim most relevant for those on their way up is, "What goes around, comes around."