You already know that having a strong brand is essential to building a successful business, but what does branding mean on a personal level? If you want to make a name for yourself in your career, you have to have a polished personal brand.
The most important thing to remember when developing a strong personal brand is to be yourself — your personal brand is about you, after all. It should be a genuine, honest culmination of your interests, career goals and all the things that make up you, presented the way you want others to view you. Being yourself is the easy part — from there, it's all about maintaining your presence and building a following.
So how do you keep your online image in check? Business News Daily asked experts for their best tips. Here are six ways experts say you can perfect your personal brand.
The first step to polishing your personal brand? Double-checking your online reputation through a simple Google search. According to Jean Dobey, founder and CEO of personal publishing social platform Hibe, the information recruiters find from Googling you could be enough to cross you off their list, if you're not careful.
Take some time to search your name on Google and see what information is out there already, what key things are missing, and what needs to be taken down, Dobey said. And yes, this includes things you might have forgotten all about, like old Myspace profiles, which can contain embarrassing content that can harm your reputation.
Check your privacy settings
You're likely on several different social media platforms for both personal uses like keeping in touch with old friends, and professional uses like sharing content you've created. But because you use different platforms for different things, it's important for you to be aware of your privacy settings.
Think about your voice
Your personal brand is about you, so it's bound to be unique, and therefore, your voice depends entirely on your personality and the goals you want to achieve.
"While some people benefit from a more controversial and opinionated presence, others are able to connect through a more conservative and measured approach," said Danica Jones, marketing manager at consumer news and advocacy organization ConsumerAffairs. This means that you should identify whether your personal brand will include facets of your personal life — which can further humanize your brand voice — or if you should keep your personal and professional worlds separate, Jones said.
"While lifestyle bloggers can reveal far more about their personal lives, it's often challenging and risky for a political or corporate professional to do so," Jones said. "Knowing which way to bend hinges on a deep understanding of audience members and key objectives."
One of the most important steps in maintaining your personal brand is to stay consistent. Anytime you do anything online, you should consider how it contributes to your personal brand, said Matt Brady, founder and CEO of career consultancy Path2Hired. This means that every time you write an article, post an update on social media or interact with your audience, you should think about the overall message you're trying to convey. Keeping your brand consistent helps you build a strong brand that others will begin to recognize, Brady said.
Actively promote yourself
You can't just write an article or start a blog and expect people to find it and follow it. You need to promote yourself actively through all of your channels, Brady said.
"Branding isn't just about designing the brand," Brady said. "Successful brands must be promoted and get into the minds of the target audience. You can accomplish this by interacting with the community through branded social media accounts, guest posting on websites and blogs, building a personal branded website and other similar actions."
Make valuable connections
It's important to promote yourself, but it's just as important to promote others. Jeff Stephens, founder of blogging consultancy Top Shelf Blogging, said the best way to connect with people and establish your personal brand authority is to constantly recognize the work of peers in your community or industry.
"While this may seem counterintuitive, sharing others' content establishes a deeper direct relationship with that person and endears you to those you have yet to meet," Stephens said.
Updated Feb. 16, 2016. Business News Daily senior writer Chad Brooks also contributed to this story.