It's one thing to be good at your job, but something different entirely to be a well-known, respected figure in your profession. To become that one person -- a leader in the field that others look to -- you need to build a personal brand.
That might sound daunting, but it's really just about making an effort to become a public figure. Of course, you also have to be good at your job -- but building a personal brand requires that you take specific steps to make your expertise known.
These steps aren't in any specific order, and you may not need to do all of them. Consider this a basic set of ways to build your personal brand that you can pick and choose from as appropriate for your industry.
Have dedicated work social media
One easy way to connect with others in your field is through social media. Doing that means you should have separate accounts for your work and personal lives. Use your work accounts to connect with people at all levels of your profession.
Share relevant thoughts, articles, and news about your field. Invite discussion and participate in debate.
Many industries have dedicated trade magazines covering them. Contributing to those publications -- either as an author or a source for a story -- establishes you as an expert. In addition, many fields are of interest to the general media. Put yourself out there as a writer or as an expert to be interviewed for stories.
One way to establish your personal brand is to help the next generation of workers coming up in your field. Be generous with your time in mentoring young colleagues or even students looking to someday work in the field. Many colleges have speaking opportunities and events where mentors and industry leaders are welcomed.
Have a personal website
While social media has made having a personal website less important, it's still a good idea. Use your personal website to lay out your qualifications. Consider it a sort of resume that strangers who might seek you out for opportunities will see.
It's a good idea to have a blog where you write about the issues facing your industry. Just remember to work with an editor and keep everything professional-looking. (Editor's note: Flattering your editor is always appreciated.)
Most industries have trade shows that are looking for speakers. These can be local, regional, or even national opportunities. Many have calls for speakers that go out anywhere from six months to a year before a show.
In some cases, you simply have to make a case for yourself as a relevant expert. At other times, you have to create and pitch a panel or discussion. This can be a lot of work, but there's nothing that builds your personal brand faster than being introduced as an expert in front of others in your industry.
It's about publicity
Building a personal brand requires that other people see you and get to know who you are. At the core of all of these tips is the idea that you have to increase your public profile. Grab every opportunity to share your hard-earned expertise, and be generous with your time. If people see you presented as an expert, you will be accepted as one.