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Upgrade your personal brand — it can make or break your career

You may not think of yourself as a brand, but there are many reasons why you should. People consume your words, actions and how you present yourself in various media. The sum of those ways, both online and in-person, is what defines your personal brand. Strategically crafting and communicating your personal brand is essential to success in any industry. Every person has something unique to offer. Thanks to social media, you can strategically shape and amplify your personal brand’s message, because how you brand and market yourself can weigh just as heavily on your success as your actual skills do. Whether you work at a company, work for yourself, are just starting out or need to pivot, if you treat yourself like a brand, you will be amazed at how that shapes the perception others have of you. Try these easy tactics to change your outlook and how others view you. Refresh your biography Your bio lives online in many forms. You have versions on your résumé, your social media accounts and your Web site. Your experience is always evolving, and these should never be considered final. But more than that, they should be read with a critical eye to determine if they are helping or hurting your personal brand and professional goals. Make it easy for people to understand who you are and what you do or want to do. For longer-form bios like LinkedIn, make sure you’re telling a great story and sharing your accomplishments and the value you add, not just your responsibilities. Make your voice heard You don’t have to be an expert to contribute to discussions at work or online, or share thought leadership on your own. Unsure what to say? Ask a thought-provoking question, post a poll or share an article that you find interesting or relevant to what you do. Not only will this generate engagement, but it can help position you as someone with a point of view. Create a portfolio of your work Putting up a simple Web site conveying what you do and the work you have done is a dynamic way to show your accomplishments. Plus, it’s the only place online where you can 100 percent own the site experience and messaging. Don’t waste an opportunity to share your personal brand in the way you want to. Buy your name site domain and corresponding e-mail to really elevate your branding game. Reconnect with your professional network Reach out to at least one person a day to see how they are and what they’re up to. Share what’s new in your world or a future project you plan to work on. Ask how you can be helpful to them. Don’t ask for anything. You’ll be amazed at what comes back. Keep track of when you reached out, what was discussed or any next steps. If someone shares something important that’s coming up, make a note to yourself to check in on how that went. Your contact will be so impressed that you remembered. Make a vision board Visualization is a powerful tactic in achieving your goals. Sometimes we don’t even dare to say what we truly want out loud, but expressing it via images makes it less intimidating. It also helps you get clarity on your goals. Push past fear Before you stop yourself from doing things that scare you, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Whatever you want to accomplish is going to require taking some risks. Putting yourself out there is never comfortable, but you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Who cares that you sent that pitch and were ignored? Follow up or try someone else. Remember that people are busy, it’s not personal. see also Work on public speaking Not comfortable presenting? Practice. Book a session with a coach or try practicing with a friend. Record yourself and learn from your mistakes. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. In a world that has gone virtual, being able to make an impact on-screen is more important than ever. Broadcast regularly People are too busy to think about you. You need to remind your network of what you’re up to. Posting recent wins or accomplishments might feel awkward at first, but it’s the most effective way to keep your name top of mind especially when opportunities pop up. Not into social media? Send out an e-mail once a quarter to update your network and ask them to share what they are up to. Give someone else a boost You’ll be the most popular person in your network if you’re offering up your social channels for support. Ask key contacts what their recent wins are and help them amplify them. Make a ‘wins’ folder Every time someone sends you a kind word or you accomplished something, save it in your wins folder. It’s hard to remember the positives, especially when we tend to focus on the negatives. Look at this folder when you need encouragement. Up your e-mail game Make a pact with yourself that the longest you will go without responding is 24 hours. Remember, being accessible makes you indispensable. Just say ‘no’ Choose your projects and plans wisely. Assess how they will add value to you. Is it a new connection? A learning opportunity? If you can’t answer why you should say yes, say no. Thank someone It’s never too late to thank someone who has helped you along the way — even years later. Closing the loop on mentorship is a very important final step for the mentee, and makes your mentor feel good. Aliza Licht is a podcaster and community mentor at her multimedia professional and personal career development brand Leave Your Mark, and the author of the eponymous book.

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