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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

This Is How to Know if Your Personal Brand Is in Good Shape

person checking their personal brand
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OK, so you know by now that building your personal brand can help you have a thriving career, right? Yet, it’s so easy to put it on the backburner like scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

(I mean, who gets excited about anything that includes the words “checkup” or “exam”?)

I get it. But you can’t deny the benefits: Nurturing it puts you on the path to your dream career, and neglecting it keeps you stagnant, or worse, stuck in a toxic environment.

So, let me ask you a question. Do you know if your personal brand is healthy or if it needs some work?

Here’s how to put your brand to the test (and check out our quick quiz below to see where you stand!).

You Need a Tune-up If: Your Social Media Is Solely Personal

If you mostly share updates about hanging out with your friends, the delicious meal and drinks you had for brunch, or daily rants, you’re missing the opportunity to build your personal brand.

Sure, you may use social media to decompress and forget about things like work, but you never know if a recruiter or colleague is checking out your profile (plus, what if your posts are TMI and hurt your reputation?).

Try mixing in interesting articles related to your field, and hide anything that could put you in a bad place professionally. This way, your social media activity includes a variety of topics and only compliments your personal brand.

Read More: Your Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram for Personal Branding (Without Feeling Fake)

You’re in Good Shape If: Your Social Media Is a Mix of Your Personal and Professional Life

On the other hand, if you manage your online reputation by using it as an opportunity to share your personal interests and support your career goals—say, trading off Twitter posts about your productivity habits and your latest vacation—that’s a good balance.

The key is to use social media to show you’re an expert in your industry and back up the strengths you highlight on your LinkedIn profile and at work. You always want to be consistent and walk the walk, even if it’s on casual platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Note: You don’t have to use every platform for your professional life. It’s OK if you want to keep some things private and for friends only. Just be sure you have at least one that’s public and professional, whether it’s a personal website or a separate Twitter account just for work stuff.

You Need a Tune-up If: You’re Missing an Online Bio

If your online bio consist of your job title, current employer, and years of experience and that’s it, it’s not doing your personal brand any justice (and you don’t make it clear what makes you different from the next person).

You’re more than a role and cliché words like “proven leader,” “enthusiastic,” and “team player.” Think about how you’re different from professionals with similar experience and focus on those traits, so there’s no confusion about the value you add.

Read More: 4 Times You’ll Have to Write Your Own Professional Bio—and How to Do it Right

You’re in Good Shape If: It’s Clear What Makes You Different

A strong, robust online bio attracts new opportunities with little effort because your unique value is front and center. However, don’t forget to revisit it and make tweaks as needed so that you keep it fresh and compelling.

You Need a Tune-up If: You Don’t Have a Professional Profile Picture

You have seven seconds to make a great first impression. If your photo is unprofessional (a.k.a., a selfie, blurry, or includes other people or pets), it can hurt your personal brand.

Working with a professional photographer helps take your profile up a notch. But don’t worry if a professional headshot isn’t in the budget right now. Another option is to wear your best work outfit (at least from the top up!) and have someone you trust take a picture of you in front a simple background with good lighting.

Read More: Why Everyone Should Have a Professional Headshot Handy

You’re in Good Shape If: Your Photo’s Professional and Has Personality

If you’re all about showing your personality with a profile picture that’s appropriate, welcoming, and well-shot, you’re doing just fine. Just make sure you also keep it fresh and updated like your bio (every year or so should do the trick).

You Need a Tune-up If: You Don’t Have a Strong Point of View

Now don’t get me wrong, building your personal brand doesn’t mean being the loudest and most opinionated person in the room—that’s just obnoxious and we’re so not going for that.

But if you’re always staying quiet or don’t add your voice to the conversation, you might as well be invisible. People take notice when you genuinely engage with others and share your beliefs, so make sure your words count. This also means actually being active on your social media—don’t let your last post be from 2014.

Don’t talk about being passionate, show it.

Read More: The Perfect Template for Writing a LinkedIn Article That Makes You Sound Smart

You’re in Good Shape If: You Talk About What Makes You Passionate

Remember I talked about walking the walk? If you have a strong point of view when it comes to what drives your career and how your skills help organizations succeed, you are showing your passion.

Since your words reflect your personal brand, always ensure they add value and strategically align with the unique character traits you want to highlight (and aren’t offensive to others or unprofessional).

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to keep your brand healthy (whether you’re experienced or just getting started). Now that you know where you stand, you have the prescription needed to ensure your personal brand is in tip-top shape and gets a passing grade.

personal brand quiz
Infographic courtesy of Mary Schafrath.

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