Is Your Personal Brand Even Working? 3 Ways to Tell
You’ve probably read a few articles on building your personal brand. Maybe hundreds. But even if that’s the case, and you’ve taken advice on how to perfect your brand across your resume, LinkedIn profile, or internet presence, you might still wonder if your brand is working.
You’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the first concerns my clients voice to me when we start working together:
“I’ve applied all the tricks, but I’m still not sure if what I’m putting out there is right…”
And in reality, they’re right to feel perplexed, because there are several different variables to consider when evaluating if your brand is right / working / good enough—everything from your career or business goals, right down to the types of people and companies you’re trying to appeal to. ACK! The good news is that despite all of these moving parts, there are a few simple ways to gauge your current personal brand, whether you’re a CEO, recent grad, freelancer, or startup founder.
Here are three universal ways to know whether or not your brand is working for you, complete with tips on what to do if you find that it’s not:
#1 People Understand How You Can Help Them
“Confuse them, you lose them” is a cardinal rule in personal branding. A good LinkedIn profile, personal website, resume, or business card lets the person viewing it know what you can help them with (and it lets them know right away!). No reading between the lines, no researching multiple sources. If you’re receiving comments like “I wasn’t sure if you worked with…” or “Do you take on X kind of projects?” there’s a chance your brand is falling short in this area. People should be able to read immediately discover what your expertise is and understand how it applies to them.
If not, try this: First, revisit the headlines you’ve used on your profiles and branding platforms. People tend to scan content quickly, absorbing headlines first, so they’re the perfect place to point out your expertise. Twitter bios and LinkedIn summaries work the same way because they’re concise. Take these bite-size content moments to broadcast not just your job title, but exactly what you do. Depending on the platform, you might include a tagline or value statement, such as “Project & Program Manager—I delight customers and hatch value for SaaS companies.” Other language that will help cue people into what you offer:
- “Some of my favorite types of challenges are ones that involve [describe the problem you solve]”
- “Problems people frequently ask for my help with include [name 2-3]”
- “If you’re looking to [whatever you’d help them achieve], reach out to me so that I can help!”
#2 Using Your Personal Brand Feels Effortless
Strong personal brands fit like a glove. And while they’re something you build, they’re not something you invent—they’re made of what’s right under your feet. They’re you. Nothing more, nothing less, and you should always feel aligned with the brand you’re using to promote yourself.
If not, try this: Get clear on why you’re uncomfortable marketing yourself under your current branding. If it’s the fact that you’re unfamiliar with social media or platform you’re using—let’s not kid ourselves—that’s an easy fix. You’re just a few video tutorials (or a quick chat with a knowledgeable friend) away from getting into a groove. But if it’s something more than that, you’ll want to zero in on what it is about your brand that doesn’t feel like a perfect fit.
Does some of the wording sound like it didn’t come out of your mouth?
Is it that old profile picture? Or maybe an skeletal account that, while it exists, says nothing about you at all?
Whatever the factors, take an inventory of them before you act. Sometimes, the updates keeping you from using your brand for the resource it is aren’t as extensive as you think.
#3 Your Inbox Is Full of the Right Opportunities
When you’re attracting opportunities that interest you, you can bet you boots that your brand is working, and working hard. And just to clarify, when I say “opportunities,” I’m talking about a number of things (not just job offers): invitations to speaking engagements, new clients, recruiter contact, freelance gigs, or just general requests for coffee dates. Whatever the opportunity, your brand is working if it’s attracting only the stuff that you want.
If not, try this: Take a close look at both the types of opportunities you’re receiving, and the sources they’re coming from. Ask yourself what the focus of each opportunity and source is. Then work backward from there, reviewing the content of your brand platforms to discover where you’re throwing off wonky signals—or, if you like shortcuts, directly ask the folks blowing up your inbox about it:“Out of curiosity, what prompted you to reach out to me?”
Once you’ve identified the factors attracting the wrong opportunities, wipe them from your brand. Then determine the focuses and interests of your ideal opportunities and work them in, loud ’n’ proud, so that they can’t be missed.
If you’re not filled with dread when you think about updating your brand, you’re in good shape. On top of feeling like a second skin and being effective in communicating your current skills and ambitions, your personal brand should be something you build regularly, over time. After your next brand revamp or refresh, put a maintenance routine in place to evolve your personal brand with your career, and to stay absolutely certain it’s working for you.