What exactly is a personal brand? There is no official definition but it’s artful combination of your expertise, talents and skills as well as the platforms that you use to present these. Many people focus only on their personal brand when they’re looking for a job, but the work doesn’t stop there. As a young professional, you can continue to find new opportunities and establish yourself in the job market by keeping your personal brand updated, fresh and in front of the right people.

Whether you are in your first job after youth service or a brand new entrepreneur looking to establish credibility in the market, below are 5 things you can do today to build and sustain your personal brand.

1. Define your brand

lovefolaWhat do you want to be known for? Are there certain attributes that you want to be linked to? What is your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? Once you establish this, you will be able to clearly define your brand. Be specific.

Choosing a general subject matter like “lifestyle” will not make you stand out of the crowd. According to Inc. Magazine, with a niche focus, you’ll have more opportunities to prove you know what you’re talking about. While your potential audience might be slightly smaller, it will also be that much more relevant.

2. Social media presence

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Social media platforms are great tools for promoting your personal brand. Make sure that the content on your profiles is consistent across the board and aligns with your brand. Flesh out your LinkedIn profile. Contribute to conversations on Twitter. Delete or untag yourself from questionable pictures on Facebook. Post regular updates about issues you care about on all three. Be careful about the images and videos you upload to Instagram. Remember that all the content you post online contributes to your personal brand.

3. Write

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Take advantage of writing opportunities. This allows you to not only share your knowledge but also establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can start by guest blogging for blogs that you admire. If you want to write more frequently, you can start your own blog or create a personal website. An added advantage of having your own website is that it increases the rank for your name on search engines. You can also reach out to newspapers and magazines, and write opinion articles to be published in them.

4. Network

lovefolaNetworking is important in building and growing your personal brand. Engage with other people in your industry both online and offline. Participate in online professional discussions and forums. Attend networking events and be ready to make connections with, share and learn from the people you meet. According to Forbes, your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands that can elevate your own personal brand.

5. Speaking engagements

lovefolaSpeaking at different events gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and meet new people. It also builds a rapport and trust with your audience. This will allow you to not only communicate effectively with them but also to grow your network. Interacting with people this way differentiates you from your competition and increases your credibility.

Cultivating your personal brand is not an overnight task. Like everything else, it takes patience, perseverance, proactivity and a lot of time. Don’t just limit your personal branding to online tools like LinkedIn and your website. Get out into the world and find opportunities to keep growing and connecting via media interviews, networking events and conferences.

Happy branding!

Images of and from Folashade Adeoso. Follow her here and here.

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