Before I invested in my personal brand, I was in a field I no longer liked and working for a company that didn’t listen to a single one of my ideas, EVER. I was in a major career slump, and I needed to pivot in a big way. I decided that going all in on developing my personal brand was the way to get back to doing something where I felt fulfilled and challenged. Now, I run my own social media marketing company, and I wake up every day excited to be investing in my future.

Recently, I’ve had some conversations with several people online that insisted that they don’t have a personal brand. What I told them is that whether they like it or not, if they’re in business they have a reputation. Today, that reputation extends online.

It’s up to you on how you manage that reputation. Those that are serious about their reputation are using social media to grow their business and used their personal brand to become influential in their field.

Consumers have been over-marketed to by companies, and they have become resistant to many traditional forms of advertising. Research shows that people are now more likely to be influenced by individuals more than organizational marketing. Thus, it’s more important than ever to have a personal brand.

Here are the eight life changing steps I took to use my personal brand to help me pivot into doing something I love for a living:

1) Decide on what you want to achieve.

It’s vital to have a goal for your branding efforts. If you don’t have a goal for your time spent online, you’re merely using the internet for entertainment purposes. Ask yourself how you would like to be perceived. Decide on some goals and align your personal brand in a way that will best help you achieve them.

2) Assess your current reputation.

Understanding how you are currently perceived by your friends, peers, and online communities will give you a realistic assessment of what needs to be done to achieve your branding goals. Try typing your name into Google? What did you find?

Is the info positive or negative? Maybe, you’re nowhere to be found like I was? Before I started developing a personal brand, when I searched for my name “John White” on Google I think I was on about page 50,000. I never actually got there as I got tired of scrolling and clicking then gave out. I have a common name! Now after a ton of effort, I rank on page two, soon to be on page number one!

3) Decide on a home base.

It’s important to decide on a home base online for your brand. Usually, that is a website or a specific social media profile. Then, take a decision on the social media sites you will use to drive traffic to your home base.

4) Create your brand.

Spend time optimizing your social media profiles, so they are consistent with your branding goals. Use strong images throughout your profiles that help you tell your story and deliver your message.

Consider getting some expert level help on this. There are professionals out there that can help you create a robust social media profile, in the same manner, a resume writer helps your resume stand out.

5) Begin building your community.

Before creating content, you need an audience. Otherwise, you will be talking to yourself. Spend time joining relevant groups in your industry and become very active in them. Identify people to network with that are influential in your field. Start retweeting them and sharing their content on a regular basis.

Sharing content that is on-brand will get the attention of influencers and add value to your network positioning you as a go-to resource for great information.

Use social media to interact with your community. My colleague, Deb Helfrich, initially built her community from commenting on other people’s posts. She regularly made very relevant and on point comments that stood out on posts. Then, when she started blogging herself she already had an audience.

6) Actively listen to the news in your industry.

My advice to content creators is to stay on top of the stories in your industry and be prepared to consume a ton of content. Before I ever wrote my first blog, I read thousands of them.

7) Begin storytelling.

There are so many different ways that you can tell your story online these days and reach a receptive audience. You can create live videos, write blogs, share pictures and memes, or write an e-book just to name a few.

Tell your audience about what you know and what they can learn from your triumphs. However, don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles too. It seems the more I admit to in my blogs, the bigger the audience grows.

8) Be prepared to work hard and don’t give up easily.

I see so many people that after they read blogs like this one, they get all excited and dive head first into personal branding. Then, when they don’t get immediate results they disappear. Only to resurface online again a few months later with a renewed effort that also fizzles out before long. These are the people that end up treading water or even regressing with their personal brand.

The successful people I know that have made significant and measurable differences in their careers with their personal brand work very hard at it and are persistent with their efforts.

My days of having a pit in my stomach every Sunday night at the thought of having to go to work in the morning are over. They can be for you too, but you have to invest in yourself now!

Originally Published on Inc. Magazine

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