By Wendy Marx, President, Marx Communications and Thriving at 50 Plus
When laying out your strategy, you probably never thought you’d be creating your personal brand during COVID-19, a global health crisis that caught everybody off guard. But here we are.
So what now? Do you continue with your personal branding strategy or do you hit the pause button? If you do continue, what is different? We’ve got answers for you!
First off, let’s clarify what we mean by a personal brand. Just like Apple and Coke have brands, individuals do to. It’s your reputation and how you’re perceived. Unfortunately, some people don’t give it a moment’s thought and let others define them. By acknowledging and building your personal brand, you’re taking control over it.
Whether we’re talking about personal branding for baby boomers or a younger generation looking for a career transition, COVID-19 has definitely put a bump in the road. How you deal with that bump on your personal branding journey can make the difference between success and failure.
The fact is that COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. So you can’t put off your personal branding strategy forever. Life goes on, even during this pandemic. And the same is true for your personal brand.
That being said, your strategy needs to adapt. This is not business as usual.
So how can you change your strategy to meet the challenges in the current climate? Let’s look at 8 key ways to create a successful personal brand during COVID-19.
How to Create Your Personal Brand During COVID-19
1. Be Adaptable
The reality is that times are changing, so you need to change with it. Currently many industries have gone virtual, focusing on online events and meetings to get things done. We don’t if or when things are going to change back to normal, so it’s important to learn how to adapt to the current client.
2. Take Advantage of Social Media
The advantage of social media is that no matter where people are — even if they’re at home — they are connected via social media. That connection is a lifeline for your personal brand during and beyond COVID-19.
Take the time now to work on your thought leadership strategy. Create content that bolsters your reputation and is easily accessible through social media. Beef up your social media profiles to reflect your personal brand.
You might also take the time to look into new content formats. Write blogs on LinkedIn. Create Live videos on Facebook. Create a YouTube channel. You might even start your own podcast. Even with the pandemic, there’s still many ways to expand your personal brand.
3. Leverage Video
While we touched on this in the last point, I want to go a little deeper into video content. Video has long been a fan favorite of audiences across several industries.
Plus, video allows your audience to engage with you in a way that’s impossible with written content. In a video, your audience can see your facial expression, read your body language, and react to your tone of voice. All of this combines to deliver a truly compelling message.
But is this possible while stuck at home? Absolutely! Take it from a number of late-show hosts and others who have made the transition. Set up a spot in your home where you’re comfortable and start filming. You don’t need expensive equipment — most smart phones are well equipped for the job! And whether your platform is YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook, your audience will love it!
4. Participate in Virtual Events
In-person events are impossible in the current climate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be a part of industry events. Many events have gone virtual, setting up webinars or streaming events on social media. And these events still need speakers and participants. Why not offer your industry expertise and public speaking ability?
If you’re not yet comfortable with virtual public speaking, take the time to practice. Granted, sitting in front of a computer screen sounds easier than standing in front of a crowd. But you’ll find that more is involved in order to keep the attention of a virtual audience. Take the time to work on your delivery and subject matter to deliver an attention-grabbing speech.
5. Expand Your Knowledge
At the moment, everything we do is online — from Zoom conference meetings, to engaging with clients, and even more so our marketing ventures. If you’re not 100% comfortable with the digital world, now’s the time to change that.
Invest in yourself and the future of your personal brand with some digital certification courses that will make you into a digital expert. There are a number of free courses and programs includng Hubpsot Academy, Twitter Flight School, and Facebook Blueprint. Why not take the time to see what skills could benefit you and your personal brand?
6. Maintain Professionalism
It’s easy to let things slack when you’re working from home with dirty laundry in the next room. Things just don’t feel the same. But when you let your professionalism slip, it could leave a lasting impression on your brand.
A key domain for maintaining your professionalism is your tone of voice. Whether it’s over a Zoom call or when writing an email, you want to make sure that you keep a professional tone.
Another important area is the way you dress. It seemed like a no-brainer when you went into the office that you’d dress professionally. After a few months of social distancing, however, a lot of people are slacking their professional standards of dress. Keep in mind, though, that the way you dress for business can impact your personal brand. You don’t have to dress up if you’re working at home but maintaining some standards impacts your mental health. You feel better.
7. Use Consistent Branding
Your personal brand should permeate your communications. Whether it’s a post on social media or an email, you want to consistently represent your brand.
If your brand has a logo, make sure that’s it’s on all of your personal branding materials, including blog posts, social media, and other digital material. This helps to keep you top of mind throughout the pandemic.
Another key way to use your brand during this time is to set up your email signature line to represent your personal brand. This includes you logo, your name and title and links to past articles you’ve written. That signature line is prime real estate that will be seen hundreds or thousands of time, especially during quarantine when email is the means of communication du jour. And if you don’t have a logo do something in your email signature to get people to take notice. In mine, for example, I mention my new book Thriving at 50+.
8. Continue to Network
Just because you’re not in a physical office does not mean that you can’t network. Networking is done in a number of ways.
The number one way to network digitally is through LinkedIn and other social networks. For example, on LinkedIn you can connect with others in your industry, read their posts and comment on them. You can also join industry groups on LinkedIn, follow the conversation, join in when you have something valuable to add, and even share your thought leadership content on there.
Outside of social media, you should maintain professional relationships throughout the pandemic. From dropping an email to your colleagues, to looking for ways to collaborate on projects, there are a number of ways that you can continue to develop your professional network.
Working on a personal brand during COVID-19 might at first sound like an uphill battle. But with the right mindset and skills, you’ll find that successful personal branding is still possible during this pandemic.
Let me know in the comments below how you’re adapting your personal branding strategy during the pandemic.
Note: This post previously appeared in a slightly different form on MarxCommunications.com