How to Build a Personal Brand from Scratch

Your digital brand can give employers a sense of who you are beyond the flat paper resume, helping them to imagine the talents, passion, and energy that you’d bring to the team. An online presence also enables them to find you, rather than you always having to go after them. According to this 2013 CareerBuilder survey:

  • 48% of employers will use Google or other search engines to research candidates (in my opinion, this number should be a lot higher)
  • 44% will research the candidate on Facebook
  • 27% will monitor the candidate’s activity on Twitter

If a potential employer Googles you, what will they find? Sure, you don’t want them to stumble upon solo cup-littered photos from your college years, but zero cyber-footprint won’t speak highly of you in the hyper-connected digital age, either. It’s important to take stock of your personal brand, and develop a powerful and cohesive story.

How to Build Your Digital Brand

Think through why you’re using a branding outlet and define your objectives. Have a clear purpose in mind when choosing a tool and focus on quality over quantity.

Consider these tools for branding yourself digitally:

Brand-builders:

Great for:

 Pro-Tips:

LinkedIn

  • Networking tool
  • Digital resume to share experience, education, projects, and interests
  • Offers you insight into the companies and people you want to attract
A must for all professionals
  • Include your objectives and interests in the summary section
  • Write brief personalized notes when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, expressing interest and offering to help
  • Use endorsements and recommendations to pay it forward to others in your network

Twitter

Marketers, salespeople, and other community-focused professionals
  • Commit to a Twitter handle to avoid confusing your followers
  • Choose a clear headshot that reflects your brand and personality (keep it professional!)
  • Engage with this network by responding to and retweeting content

Website

  • Express your personal aesthetic
  • A hub to house your portfolio
  • Link to blogs, projects, social media, résumé etc.
Designers
  • If possible, secure your actual name for a domain. If your name is already taken, try simple and professional variations that will be easy to remember and that you’ll feel inclined to stick with
  • Develop other branding elements (business cards, Twitter wallpaper, blog, etc.) to mimic your site aesthetic

Blog

  • Showcase creativity and writing skills through original content
  • Establish yourself as a thought-leader
  • Demonstrate consistency and commitment
Marketers
  • Write about something you’re passionate about and interested in (if you can’t get excited about your writing, your readers certainly won’t)
  • Don’t hesitate to put a fresh spin on unoriginal content, as long as you give credit

Github

  • Showcase your skills
  • Demonstrate your willingness to contribute back to the community
  • Show your technical personality through “social coding.”
Developers
  • Find existing, active open-source projects to contribute to
  • Communicate well: open descriptive issues and respond promptly to issues
  • If you use Github as a résumé, be sure to show your best work: document, test, and refactor your code

REMEMBER! The purpose of personal branding strategy is to make yourself memorable and credible. Your brand should be professional, but it can be fun or quirky too! Maybe you love waffles, chihuahuas, or cartwheels. Infuse your brand with whatever it is that makes you unique while maintaining an appropriate balance with professionalism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STARTUP INSTITUTE & CHRISTINE ZIMMERMANN

Christine Zimmermann is the content marketing manager at Startup Institute.

Startup Institute provides immersive education for the innovation economy. Their full-time and RampUp programs help individuals toStartup-Institute-Global-Logobuild the skills, mindset, and network to get jobs and thrive at startups.