I read a great article recently on the Forbes website about personal branding; this article took a different tack on the subject. It’s not just about telling us that personal branding is essential, but rather it’s about how you can best go about defining your personal brand.

One of the most important points of the article is that before you begin to express your personal brand on social media, you need to know WHAT your brand is and who you are trying to influence. 

Many people jump into social media and blogging before they even know what their personal brand is. The result—-trying to be all things to all people, which is totally the opposite of a well-defined brand.

You must first think carefully about your career objectives before you begin the personal branding process. And get feedback on how you are perceived. Taking a personal branding survey, such as the Reach 360 survey, will provide you with external feedback on your professional reputation. BUT, Your personal brand is more than just how others perceive you. It includes knowing who you are, what your passions are, what’s important to you, and where you want to go professionally. Your personal brand is the value that you promise to deliver with everything you do, regardless of where you do it.

That’s a lot of work. But, it’s necessary to do this work before you start communicating with the world via social media. Personal branding is all about making a full-time commitment to defining yourself and self-discovery.

Once you know what your personal brand is and you begin to express it via social media and other venues, you must make sure that it is an ongoing process that needs to be managed. Your brand needs to become part of what you do on a daily basis. Once you start communicating and blogging, you want to continue those activities to increase your visibility and credibility.

One last important point. You want your audience to perceive your personal brand positively. But, you also must base your personal brand on authenticity. You can’t make things up about who you are or how you are perceived. It is not about creating a spin or self-promotion campaign; it’s about being yourself and integrating the best of who you are in everything you do. 

Remember, personal branding is no longer a career option, it is an imperative. And, planning your brand, how you want to be perceived, what you can realistically deliver, who you audience is, and what they would be interested in, are the keys to creating a personal brand that works for you and advances your career.