You hear about the importance of personal branding all the time when talking about careers, but people usually leave out the insights that make it so valuable in the first place. That’s why you should hear about it from these personal branding consultants.
They’re teaching people about branding every single day, and they’re here to share what they know. Don’t miss out!
What does a personal branding consultant do?
There’s a process to personal branding that goes deeper than social media content, followers, or engagement.
It’s about figuring out your professional character, where you want to take your career, and how all of those things come together to work for you. In short, consultants help you build your personal brand on your own terms. This keeps you from chasing external validation and other people’s professional approval—which is draining for everyone.
Here’s what that process looks like at a glance:
- Start with your personal story to understand how your background will help your future.
- Create a visual identity to make yourself immediately recognizable online.
- Build a portfolio website to centralize your personal brand and your career narrative.
- Construct a social media content strategy to keep yourself in everyone’s orbit.
Start with your personal story
Most people take a wrong turn with personal branding right at the outset. They treat personal branding like company branding, but they’re totally different.
Here’s the secret: the processes are actually reversed.
Company and personal branding try to achieve goals that are like mirror images of each other. Here’s the difference:
- Company branding adapts itself to audiences that should benefit from a product.
- Personal branding attracts a professional audience that fits your own personality.
That’s why it’s important to figure out your professional story, according to personal branding consultant Anna Vatuone. Your personal brand doesn’t exist to make you more appealing to people you think you want to impress—it exists to attract the kind of people who are already impressed by your personality, style, and niche.
What does a personal brand story look like, though?
It’s a narrative that explains core ideas about you:
- Who you are professionally and personally.
- How you got to where you are.
- What you love, what drives you, and what you do.
- Why you do what you do and the challenges that matter to you.
- Your goals and aspirations
Crafting your brand story will help you get a foot in the door as a new graduate, as well as to unify a resume of seemingly unrelated experiences. Even better: it will help you retain your professional identity when you change roles or industries, which carries all kinds of long-term benefits for your career.
Locating your audience (for entrepreneurs and executives)
If you’re starting or leading a business—either now or down the road—then you may want to consider layering on a bit of strategic messaging for your audience.
According to Clair Bahn, a personal brand consultant for business leaders, this will help you get noticed by the right people in other businesses—the decision-makers on executive teams, boards of directors, and even just the owners of other small and medium businesses.
That’s because entrepreneurs often need to embody their product or service in order to build their business’ reputation.
It’s not the ideal approach for young and intermediate professionals, but if you’re freelancing, consulting, or thinking about starting your own business, then it’s worth considering so that the people you want as customers will gravitate toward you.
Consultants are excellent in this step because they bring an external—yet experienced—perspective that individual job seekers might not. It’s hard to get perspective on our own careers when we’re living in them day in and day out, naturally.
They’ll help you figure out if you want to talk to team leaders, small business owners, executives, or even just other individual contributors in the companies with whom you want to do business.
Consultants will also help you assess how that audience will perceive your style, and if something like a personal branding logo would be appropriate or overkill. Little things like that can have a big impact on your professional image.
Crafting your message
Figuring out your messaging comes after—and only after—deciding on your personal brand narrative and, if you’re confident, your career-path-for-now.
That often manifests as a personal brand statement for your LinkedIn profile or for your resume, but that’s really just one expression of a larger messaging framework that you’ll develop.
What does that entail?
- It usually involves a single, powerful message that defines you and your professional “mission.” That’s what everyone will come to associate with your name.
- That, in turn, is best supported by 3-4 secondary or adjacent messages that support your primary one. These demonstrate your character in a wider context.
Here’s an example of what I might use as a content marketer:
Primary message: Content marketing should do the heavy lifting for companies.
Secondary Message #1: Start with a strategy before writing.
Secondary Message #2: Always demand high-quality content.
Secondary Message #3: Make people want to buy from you instead of giving everyone a hard sell.
Secondary Message #4: Content marketing should support sales teams.
Secondary Message #5: Content marketing should incorporate your product or service as a real-life example wherever possible.
And all of those messages come through in snippets of your personal story—which you’ll share while networking, interviewing, posting on social media, or even just while working.
Do you see how that fits together? Your narrative is the vehicle for the messages you want to associate with your professional image. They go hand in hand—and it works because it all comes from your very own experiences, positioned more effectively as a part of your
Even though you’ll be known for the central message that content marketing should do a lot of the salesy stuff itself, you can break that down into sub-topics that can be discussed in more granular detail—and with real-life examples, which are always effective.
Broadcast your personal brand on social media
Every personal brand coach I’ve found shares one common step in their process: using social media to gain visibility.
“Content is the electricity that keeps your brand turned on,” says consultant Anna Vatuone. I haven’t found another consultant who disagrees.
It’s no wonder why, either. Look at the visibility and engagement that people get when they strike a powerful message on LinkedIn.
Check out these personal branding examples to see what that can look like if you’re just starting out!
It isn’t just about the raw number of followers you have on LinkedIn or Twitter. Gaining new followers should be one of your branding goals, but it’s more important to send the right messages about your character and your drive to the right people.
That’s why consultants cover your career trajectory and strategic messaging before doing anything else.
A wise man (and twice-CEO) once told me that every action we take adds or subtracts from our personal brands. That can apply to our job performance, true, but it applies just as much to our networking efforts.
People make first impressions quickly, and they’ll only truly begin to trust and respect you after witnessing your work ethic, your character, and your results.
All of that starts with meeting new people, and that happens when you network.
So how do consultants get you to network better?
- You’ll learn how to present yourself effectively, giving informal elevator pitches.
- They’ll teach you how to build rapport with others.
- Together you’ll figure out the best ways for you to add value to connections.
Being known as approachable, helpful, and valuable will take you far.
Common personal branding services
So what does that process look like? Personal branding consultants usually have a process that they’ll walk you through, step by step, to build the image that you need.
Every consultant has his or her own process, but they tend to include some of these steps:
- Personal brand audit.
- Developing a personal narrative.
- Figuring out your core professional message.
- Getting a sense of your audience (for leaders and entrepreneurs).
- Content creation lessons.
- Social media strategy.
- Insights on professional networking.
- Lessons on presenting yourself in meetings and interviews.
That’s what it’s like to work with a personal branding consultant. It’s as much about figuring out your own style as it is about marketing that style for everyone else to see, and it’ll serve you well in the long term.