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How to build your personal brand when you’re not a CEO


LAST UPDATED: 07 March, 2024

At the start of your career there are a lot of things out of your control. Whether it’s your workload or your colleagues, when you are learning the ropes it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. When you are trying to impress your boss, it’s all work work work!

Unfortunately, these days you have to do more than work hard to stand out.

This is a mistake I made at the start of my career. Like most young graduates, I threw myself into the job. I shutdown my social media accounts, stopped volunteering, meeting people, and drifted out of touch with old connections.

Looking back, I lost some of my identity. Funnily enough, in a competitive market, I lost exactly what got me the job in the first place. Personal brands aren’t just for CEOs — in fact, your personal brand is one of the few things that you can control when you are starting out.

If you are ready to start building your personal brand, here’s how to get started.

1. Start working on your personal brand now

Don’t wait until you’re ready for a promotion to start thinking about building your personal brand. Personal branding is crucial to a successful career, and in today’s competitive market having a strong personal brand will help you stand out from the crowds.

To get started, you need to define your purpose. Take some time to think about what you are passionate about. What makes you tick? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Your personal brand has to be just that — personal. It must reflect who you are, because this is what makes you unique and memorable. Laser focusing on your purpose is critical to setting the foundations for your personal brand moving forward.

2. Work out your niche

Once your have your brand and vision in mind, think about what makes you different. What is the one thing that sets you apart from your peers?

Working out a niche is important because it makes your personal brand stick. Think about people whose personal brands you admire. For example, Steve Jobs’s brand and legacy is as a visionary, who led Apple to combine new technology and great design to create products that stood out from the crowd. Oprah paved the way for women around the world, with her personal brand strongly centered around empathy — helping her stand out from the rest of the lifestyle market.

3. Start building your personal brand platform

To build your personal brand, you need to build a platform to start communicating your brand.

These days, everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts and insights. No matter what stage of your career you are at, you can build a following online using a blog or social media.

If you love to write, and want to get stuck into a big project, think about securing a domain name and setting up a blog for you to post your work. If you are in the creative industry, this is also a great way to showcase your portfolio.

If you don’t have time to create your own site, consider using social media to start building your brand. It might be writing thought leadership posts on LinkedIn, or perhaps you start sharing short videos and opinions on Snapchat. If you choose social media, don’t forget to audit your social media accounts to make sure they are in line with your brand.

4. Start telling your personal brand story

With your personal brand in mind, start thinking about how you can create opportunities to start telling your story. When your personal brand tells a great story, it will attract attention — no matter what stage of your career you are at.

Creating great content around your brand is critical to building your personal brand and standing out in your chosen niche. Start conversations about things that interest you. Think about other opportunities to influence, whether it’s putting your hand up for a panel event, or maybe it’s mentoring students or new team members.

When you go the extra mile and start building your personal brand at the start of your career, it won’t be long before you start to see the benefits. Whether it’s new or better opportunities, or a strong, supportive network one thing is certain — don’t wait until you are a CEO to start building your personal brand.

This post was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog.