Why personal branding is vital in the post-coronavirus era

Developing a personal brand is key as the pandemic increases our digital footprint and reliance on the internet

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When social distancing measures were put in place, the Internet was the only connection to the outside world for many of us. Social media platforms, in particular, became the go-to outlets for those of us looking for shopping alternatives, news and causes to support. This has emphasised the importance of our social media profiles now more than ever, especially for those in leadership roles.

Developing a personal brand is vital now as people will continue to use the Internet to organise events, work, shop, conduct meetings and even recruit people remotely even after the pandemic. This means it is more likely people will  hear about you online before they meet you in person.

Recruiters, potential clients, and even new friends often resort to search engines to learn more about you and what you do. A 2017 survey by global consulting firm Harris Poll found that 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring them. What you put out there, the values you share, and how you communicate these values, constitute your personal brand, and how people, especially your customers, perceive you.

If you are a business owner, chances are your customers will search for you online, and view your pages on social media. A number of my friends feel it important to get to know the person or people behind the brands and to see whether that person’s values are in sync with theirs, especially during times of crisis. Are they giving back to the community? How are they supporting worthy causes?

Here are some key points to keep in mind when building your personal brand:

Define your audience

Before you build your personal brand, determine who your target audience is. Are they your business’s clients? Are they recruiters? Or are they your column readers? The sooner you figure this out, the easier it will be for you to craft the story you want to share, and one that they would relate to. If you are a marketing expert, then your audience may include business owners, marketing enthusiasts, marketing students and even journalists. So, your story might include successful marketing campaigns, forecasting industry trends, and even marketing tips to business owners.

Tone of voice

When representing your brand, think about the value(s) you want to communicate and the tone that resonates best with your audience. Is your tone casual? Is it informative? What are your values?

One of the values that American media mogul Oprah Winfrey espouses is to encourage people to live their best life, and that value is communicated through her messages, talks and books.

When building your personal brand, demonstrate what you stand for and make sure that is relayed through your tone and expressions. This boils down to your choice of words, and the type of content you share, re-tweet, or post on your Instagram page.

So, for example, if you want to encourage people to achieve their dreams, then your page may include success stories of people who have challenged all odds to achieve their dreams. You may share motivational videos, or even write uplifting articles. Your message slowly becomes your trademark, and one that is easy for your customers to identify as yours.

Personal portfolio

If you are a designer, writer, thought leader, or a marketing strategist, then it’s essential to have a personal digital portfolio or website that can highlight your work. This allows potential clients and recruiters to learn more about your work. If your goal is to advance your career and join organisations, then LinkedIn is one online platform recruiters will look up your experiences in.

Your personal brand is not only what you put on social media, but how you carry yourself offline. If you are a business owner, you will be associated with your brand, and your reputation is that of the brand’s. Just like building a brand, personal branding requires patience and consistency. Keeping these elements in mind, however, will ease the process.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi