Improve Your Personal Branding in 5 Steps

What’s a personal brand? How do I create a personal brand? These questions are so common when you’re a business owner. Not only is there pressure to brand your business perfectly, but you have to think of your personal brand as well. Your personal brand is all about how people perceive and interact with you. Of course you want it to work for you, not against you. Follow these 5 steps when you’re ready to dive in.

When you’re a business owner, not only is there pressure to brand your business perfectly, but you have to think of your personal brand as well. Since you’re the face of your business, it's important for you to be aware of how you’re perceived. You want your personal brand to work for you, not against you!

Here’s the thing about your personal brand… You already have it. Mostly.

The hang-up comes from thinking that it should be effortless and not putting any work into it. Your personal brand isn’t only about your physical presence, it’s also about the interactions you have with others.

Let’s get to it! If you’re struggling to define or improve your personal brand, follow these 5 steps.

Step 1: Consistency is key.

Online you’re a bubbly, energetic, networking queen.
In person you’re a sarcastic straight-shooter who runs away from small talk.

See the problem?

Both online and in-person, you need people’s experiences with you to be consistent. People have an unspoken expectation that who you are online is also who you are in person. If there is a disconnect, it’s time for you to address it.

When in doubt, stay true to what comes naturally to you and make sure you present yourself the same online as well as face to face. At the end of the day you aren’t going to please everyone, so communicate and interact with others in a way that’s authentic to you.

Step 2: Create your biz persona.

Isn’t it so easy to embody your personal brand online, and then in person you freeze up?

I believe that introverts who label themselves as ambiverts have just realized the secret that is having personas. I like to think of using a persona as a “fake it until you make it” way to give myself a confidence boost and to be extroverted for short periods of time. It’s how I make sure that who I am isn’t run over with a truck of insecurity and anxiety.

Here’s what that looks like, for me.

Business Liz (hi, that’s me) is cool, confident, and collected.
Business Liz likes to have an audience because she loves to share what she knows to people who are trying to learn it. She always wears pants with real pockets. Business Liz is terrible with names and will ask you to remind her of yours at least twice. Grabbing coffee and chatting about biz/life/books/movies/food is her JAM.

Real Liz (hi, that’s me too) is ambitious, analytical, and anxious.
After being around a lot of people she has to go home and be alone for hours. She loves to share things online because she can put her thoughts in order and edit them before sharing. She never wears pants with buttons at home. Real Liz agonizes over not remembering names. Grabbing coffee and chatting about biz/life/books/movies/food is her JAM (because 1-on-1 time is where she thrives and gains creative energy).

Both versions of myself, are in fact, myself. But one is simply the triple-shot espresso to my home brewed coffee self.

Now, you might think… can I be authentic if I have a business persona?
(Yay, buzzwords)

Of course. You’re still being 100% yourself, but having a business persona is a way to train your mind to ignore anxiety-laden chatter. Eventually it will become second nature to you if it isn’t already.

Step 3: Set boundaries.

Having a business persona isn’t limited to introverts, it’s also there to set boundaries for yourself and your business. Boundaries help you decide what you do and don’t talk about, and help you know how to manage your responses to certain situations.

What would these boundaries look like?

Here are a few examples:

  • Staying positive
  • Not participating in gossip
  • Sticking to topics that embody your core values
  • Avoiding topics that do not represent your core values
  • Giving yourself time to respond instead of simply react
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Give more than you take

Step 4: Be intentional.

Developing and refining your personal brand takes time and careful consideration. Think of personal brand development as making the decision to refine how others perceive and interact with you.

Ask yourselves these questions if you aren’t sure where to start:

Communication style

  • What impression do you want to leave people with after chatting with you?
  • How do you greet someone when you see them?
  • Do you thrive in group settings or one-on-one?

Personal style

  • What colors/patterns will you wears consistently?
  • What colors/patterns will you never wear?
  • Do you have a signature accessory you never go without?

Step 5: Avoid the perfection trap.

As all things in life, this is going to be a work in progress. Don’t get hung up about curating the perfect wardrobe or overanalyzing your every conversation. Take things one day at a time. Above all else, make sure that you are happy with the choices you make.

Easier said than done?

For the next month, work on ONE of these steps. Don’t try to do everything at once. What can you work on in the next 30 days?