Ask any millennial about their career path, and chances are they won't recount a straight shot to the top. Instead, most dabble in different fields, strike out on a few solo ventures, and pray the old "fake it 'til you make it" adage pans out. And If there's one thing that you hear constantly as a young professional, it's this: "You need to build your brand." The thing is that most of us have no idea what that means.
Ahead are insights on branding, authenticity, boundaries, and more. And while we may not have have thousands of Instagram followers or a side hustle that rakes in millions (just yet) this is a starting point for building your own personal brand. With some totally unexpected secrets to success, including the perks of a well seasoned mentor and the simple power of taking yourself seriously, there is no way you can't fake it til you make it!
You already have a brand — regardless of whether it’s conscious or subconscious — because you’re already engaging on a number of platforms. Yes, your brand probably lacks cohesion and a strategy, but you're not starting from scratch. People are already following you, and they're receiving the messages you put out to the world — on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and personal blogs. So the smartest thing to do is to build on what you have. Finding and understanding your niche is the very first step to successfully crafting your brand. After you know who your audience is, you can begin to become an influencer and thought leader in the places where they already seek information.
The person you are on a coffee date should be the person a follower sees on your social media channels. Just remember that part of being your authentic self means avoiding over-curating your online presence. Of course you can add filters, and use special lighting, but at the end of the day, that branded person online still needs to be you.
The Line Between Personal & Professional
It's possible to be professional, share a few personal things, and maintain your privacy all at once. You can make your lifestyle public, and keep your life private by being mindful of what you share.
So maybe you share the pancake photo because it shows what you do, but think twice about the little cousin image from Christmas. When you cross boundaries it can affect your work negatively. Who cares about authenticity when something is negatively affecting your life? So, you have to draw a line. You're the only one who can determine these boundaries, though. Drawing boundaries will help you yield better quality work, making your brand smarter and stronger.