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    download (12)How much attention do you put on developing your personal brand in your career planning? In our digital world, it has become a key component in successfully crafting your career path and has more influence than you think in landing your next move. It’s time to give your own profile attention and here is how.

    Whether you realise it or not, you already have a personal brand. Put simply, it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

    In a highly competitive and inter-connected world like sport, where making contacts and nurturing relationships is so important, your reputation and credibility are everything. How you’re perceived – by those inside your network and by those you’ve yet to meet – forms the bedrock of your success or failure.

    The good news is, your personal brand is entirely within your control. Building and managing it is about how you conduct and present yourself; it’s the impression people are left with after meeting you, or after typing your name into a search engine. Positive personal branding gives you a huge competitive advantage.

    What are the first steps to building my brand?

    The first step is to do something, not just hope it will take care of itself. As Kira Makagon, Executive Vice President of Innovation at business communications firm RingCentral says: “Don’t let your brand come about passively. Give some active thought to what you want to create and foster as a way for people to connect with you. This is much more likely to yield results that will help you to build a fulfilling career reflective of your values.”

    So firstly decide what you want your brand to look like. What are your strengths? What aspects of your knowledge and skillset differentiate you from your competitors? What is your specialism or niche in sport that makes you useful to potential contacts or employers?

    To answer these questions, you could even take it one step further back and ask others how they perceive you, which is a strategy favoured by Leonard Kim, co-founder of Influence Tree.

    “Before you can go out there and build your brand, you first have to discover who you are,” he states. The first stage of his personal branding training is to ask his client’s colleagues to write an honest, anonymous one-word description of them on Post-It notes. Their answers give his clients heightened self-awareness, which forms to basis for the ensuing brand building process.

    “It’s about knowing who you are – your true authentic self,” says Kathryn Foot, Operations Director at award-winning learning platform Careercake. “You must understand your passions, strengths and values and have the ability to communicate this consistently across all channels of communication, online and offline.”

    Where do I enhance my personal brand?

    Social media is the obvious place to start. When asked in a survey whether they used social media as part of the hiring process, only 4% of recruiters replied ‘no’. Linkedin (87%) and Facebook (55%) were the most common destinations. YouTube, Instagram and even Snapchat were also mentioned. This shows the whole gamut of platforms must be controlled.

    As it’s almost guaranteed that prospective employers will google your name, you need to ask yourself; what will they find? If it’s nothing, that’s bad. If it’s some dodgy stag do Facebook photos or profane tweets, it’s worse. If they find relevant blogs, a strong Linkedin profile and a list of achievements consistent with your application, you’ve given the hiring manager a straight-forward choice.

    “This is why a personal brand is so important,” explains Careercake CEO and founder Aimee Bateman. “It differentiates you from the other candidates with similar skills, experiences and qualifications.”

    What content works best to augment my brand?

    Anything that clearly and articulately demonstrates your expertise, skill and influence in your chosen sphere. Being inquisitive, a keen learner, an early adopter, a reader and thinker in your specialist area will help, as long as you reflect this online with blogs, vlogs, and posts on LinkedIn and other social media. Commenting on others’ content and engaging in dialogue definitely helps, too.

    Another good tip is to buy the website domain of your own name (if possible), and curate all your content in one SEO-friendly space.

    Sport is a field saturated by online content, but the good news is there’s a huge audience too. Your trick is to find your industry niche and establish yourself as a specialist within it through a consistent and engaging voice.

    The marketplace is noisy; understanding and cultivating your brand is the key to rising above the din.

    Find more great articles to prepare for your new role in sport on our Prepare: Knowledge Hub

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