Richard Branson, Oprah and Neil Patel. Wealthy, renowned and inspiring; we look up and aspire to be like these people on so many levels. Over the years, they have grown in their respective fields, pouring out wisdom for everyday folk and amassing followers over time. When we say their names, we inevitably attach them to positive thoughts, opinions and perception. So, what do these people have in common? Well, the answer is simple: A strong personal brand, of course!

According to Wikipedia, personal branding is “the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is the on-going process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group or organisation”. However simple to understand, as an individual you might be asking, “what does this have to do with me?”  

Let’s break it down, say you’re on the look out for a new hairdresser in your area. You perform a quick Google search and find 2 results close to you. One, simply is listed with a name, address and contact number. The other, has a solid web presence that provides contact details along with some images of her work and a more about herself. Based off what you experience, most people are likely to pick the latter thanks to the perception created by the second stylist’s personal brand.

While word of mouth is still an incredible tool that works; as small business owners or skilled individuals in our fields; we have no control over this and is limited to the people we know and the rate in which they speak of your work. As we move towards a digitised future, the world turns to the internet for answers and solutions when pretty much looking for anything.

No matter the industry you’re in and the kind of work you put out there, perception of you in the online space remains a huge factor in the 21st century. Think of it this way, first impressions really do count, when introducing yourself to a potential employer or bagging that business loan with a potential investor. So, what would someone’s impression of you be at first click? How would they remember you and what makes you different from the rest?

Personal branding is ideally positioning yourself while highlighting your strengths and better qualities in a place of opportunity. A simple example can be seen when being asked to outline your strengths in the workplace by an interviewer. By communicating effectively, you can offer up your most advantageous qualities thus making you a great candidate for the position. Why should it be any different online? By intentionally sharing the right content about who you are and what you can do, you have the upper hand, allowing people to view who you are and what you’re about, making you desirable for various reasons. A personal brand gives off a sense of credibility and understanding, creating trust and opportunity at first glance.

If you’re a small business owner, you probably already understand the importance of a strong online presence and creating the right perception for potential customers, suppliers and investors. While your products or services are incredibly important and of high grade, your story behind it has become equally important in the modern age. It all comes down to what makes you significant and different in your trade. Authenticity has become a vital attribute when shopping for services and products.

What’s in a name? Everything! Your name is your personal identity and there is nothing stopping you from turning it into a brand that will benefit you and bring you a stronger sense of individuality no matter what you do. Setting up a business, reach high ranking positioning in your company or simply exploring industries and finding what you’re good at. These aspects are at the tip of the iceberg when creating and sustaining a personal brand for yourself online. So, whether you are a small business owner or someone who hasn’t quite figured out what they want, a personal brand will in fact give an advantage of positioning yourself. It allows you to share information with the right people in the correct way.

The world is indeed a vast place but we’re each, individually special in our own ways; having special stories, interests and services with the opportunity to offer something exceptional. Your personal brand is the portal through which makes this possible.

So, tying these factors together; personal branding is ideally marketing yourself with the correct information on the right platform to ensure visibility of you and what you can offer to draw attention from the right people. You become known in your industry for the skills and reasons you put out there.