How to Create a Personal Branding Plan in 30 Minutes (Even if You Hate "Personal Branding")

You’re ready to make a career move—maybe you’re looking for a new job, launching a side business, or eyeing a promotion. In all of these instances, boosting your personal brand can help you achieve your goal.

That’s because a strong personal brand is a carefully designed message that’s compelling and attracts the right people. It helps you stand out for who you are and what you do best.

You’re probably nodding along, because you already know all of this. You don’t need to be convinced how valuable personal branding is: What’s holding you back is the time commitment.

That’s why you have a LinkedIn Profile, even though you haven’t updated it since you set it up. After all, who can devote hours each week on top of working or job searching? Well, believe it or not, 30 minutes is all you need to take your efforts to the next level. Here’s how to spend them:

Minutes 1-10: Evaluate What Makes You Stand Out

The first thing you want to do is perform a self-assessment. This step is often overlooked, but it’ll be super helpful as you find your voice in a sea of professionals with similar experience.

This evaluation helps you have a clear vision of your USP, or “unique selling proposition,” which is just a fancy term for the value you offer to your target audience.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What are you passionate about? You want to think about what excites you, and what things you truly enjoy doing.
  2. What are your core beliefs? This is important because it’s like a mission statement. It’ll help you relay your personal approach to getting things done.
  3. What are your top four strengths? This’ll help you share what you do better than anyone else, to set you apart from the competition.
  4. Are you a good leader or a good doer—or both? This is good to know because it’s a way to identify and highlight the kind of roles that complement your strengths.
  5. What do others say about you? Ask around! You may have strengths you’re unaware of, or talents you need to put more emphasis on so people know they exist.

To be clear, I don’t expect you to answer these questions with witty taglines. This exercise is to help you target your branding efforts. So, answer the question(s) that inspire you by jotting down notes, and honestly writing what comes to mind.

Minutes 10-20: Compare That to What You Already Have

Now that you’ve done some reflection on what you want to say, it’s time to see how it stacks up against what’s already out there.

If someone were to read your LinkedIn profile, tweets, or personal website, would they see messaging that points them toward the answers you came up with?

You might be thinking: Wait, I only have 10 minutes, that’s not enough time to read my whole website or review my LinkedIn line by line. But, here’s the thing, people who click into one of your social profiles or visit your website are probably going to spend a fraction of that time looking at it.

So, you want to look for things that shout what you do. On LinkedIn, that means moving beyond filling out the basics and adding links to media, writing posts, and getting endorsements for skills. On your website, that might mean building a portfolio. On Twitter, it’s about not just following influencers, but composing tweets, too.

This step is about comparing what you want to highlight to what you have and asking yourself: What’s missing? What can I add?

Minutes 20-30: Create a Schedule

Truth talk: Personal branding isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. Once you’ve figured out what you want your message to be and how you can share it more effectively, you’re going to need to start posting—consistently.

A helpful way to be consistent is to set a schedule that you can use as a guide. It shouldn’t feel like a chore, but if you’re anything like me, if you don’t schedule it, it could get back-burnered. All I ask is that you give it 10 minutes a day!

Here’s an example of a schedule you can start with:

  • Monday: Make (or update) a list of people you’d like to engage with more (a former manager) or simply connect with (an industry influencer).
  • Tuesday: Reach out to someone from that list. If it’s someone you’re reconnecting with, try one of these ideas. If it’s a stranger, you can test out this Twitter trick, or, if you’re brave, just send a cold LinkedIn invite using these templates.
  • Wednesday: Spend time looking for industry-related articles in publications popular in your field and share one. Or, alternatively, comment on someone else’s post (or at a minimum, share it).
  • Thursday: Make (or update) your list of improvements you’d like to make to your online presence. Break it down into baby steps. For example, you wouldn’t write, “Build personal site.” You’d write, “Look into site designers” and “write copy for personal site bio.”
  • Friday: Spend today looking yesterday’s list and knocking just one thing off.

Of course, you can tailor your plan to whatever works best for you. Honestly, if you just do the five things above even once a month, you’ll see traction. Regardless of the schedule you choose, feel free to switch it up, and see what gets the best response. You won’t see results overnight, but, that’s OK.

My final piece of advice is to avoid being misled by the term “personal branding.” What I mean is: The most successful brands aren’t just about you. Take the time to know your target audience, and listening to what’s on their minds as well. Genuinely connect and build relationships! As best-selling author Dale Carnegie said, “To be interesting, be interested.”

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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