Like it or not, every person who uses the internet has already established a personal brand. In the most basic terms, your personal brand is how others perceive you. We all make judgments based on perceptions, whether those perceptions are formed in person or digitally.

It is human nature to want to feel a connection to those who provide personal services. The yearning for that connection often begins even before an in-person meeting. Because of this desire for connection, potential customers, colleagues, and employers will search for you on Google. What will they find?

The first step to establishing your brand is to find out what’s already out there. The best way to do that is to do a Google search of your name. How comfortable are you with what is public? Would a customer bring their pet to you based on your social media posts? Would you want a potential employer to see everything you’ve posted on social media?

Once you’ve determined what’s out there, unless you’re 100% OK with it being public, make it private. Social media platforms have settings that restrict access to only those who have a truly personal connection. Using a first and middle name rather than first and last name can also be an effective method to restrict searchability. While making these changes won’t instantaneously erase that presence from the web, it will eventually fade away.

Remember that individuals are searching for you because they want to find a connection. For that reason, it’s incredibly important that your public brand feels personal. Think about this personal brand as the ideal you. Are you a researcher? A teacher? No-nonsense? Warm and fuzzy?

While you may not have a logo, you can brand yourself with images that represent you. Invest in a good headshot and use it on everything. How would you like to be seen? In a lab coat? In an office? Cuddling your pet? The same goes for collateral images. Active pets? Kittens? Puppies? How important is the human-animal bond to your brand?

And don’t forget the most obvious branding point of all: Who are you? Do you want to be Dr. Jane? Dr. Smith? Dr. Jane Smith? Choose your name and use it consistently.

It’s time to start building! Link and cross-reference each platform and remember to use your ideal name, headshot, voice, and images.

  • LinkedIn: Add value to the conversation by writing short articles, uploading videos, and joining groups.
  • Facebook: Create a public figure page, but make sure it feels personal.
  • Blog: Link your other social media platforms to your blog, including those you made private, because those connections will drive traffic.
  • Other social media platforms: Be you! Utilize other platforms you enjoy, like Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube.

Remember to always be “you” so your brand and connections feel authentic. We all have a digital presence, so take control and make it work for you.

Elyse Phillips is the director of account management for Beyond Indigo Pets.

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