How to Brand Yourself Without Spending A Dime, Part 1
Career Growth

How to Brand Yourself Without Spending A Dime, Part 1

by Samantha Tollin
January 13, 2016

This week, we dive into the basics of personal branding and ways you can revamp your image without spending your hard-earned dough. Read Part 2 right here.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BILLBOARD AS YOU'RE CRUISING ALONG AND THOUGHT, "WOW, THAT LOOKS PRETTY COOL" OR EVEN "WHY WOULD I EVER SPEND MONEY ON THAT?"

When it comes down to it, billboards get one split-second shot to catch a potential customer’s attention. The same logic applies to developing your own personal brand—so plan yours wisely.

If the idea of personal branding makes your head hurt, we understand. By definition, your personal branding is, well, up for definition. It’s pretty much anything you want it to be. And that’s both liberating and daunting.

Many people think it takes lots of money in order to get noticed in the professional world. And while there are personal branding techniques that do require money, there are plenty of ways to get your name out there without spending a dime.

As career women, often trying to land our first big professional break, we all know that avoiding additional expenses can make all the difference. That’s why we’ve got a breakdown of money-saving ways you can put your best (professional) foot forward:

CONDUCT A SWOT ANALYSIS

Before you start promoting your brand, you’ve got to know what it is. One way for you to get a better idea of how you want to build your personal pitch is by conducting a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This process allows you to identify how you can correlate strengths with opportunities, and how you can defeat any threats or weaknesses. Basically, by writing this down, you’ll be able to fully analyze your best personal strategy. (Hint: we recommend trying it on color-coded Post-It notes.)

Once you’ve successfully started brainstorming, try filling out Career Contessa’s personal pitch worksheet, which will help you unify your messaging regardless of whether you’re on the hunt for a new job, considering asking your company for a raise, or just trying to get your goals in order for 2016.

REFRESH THAT LINKEDIN PROFILE

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account already, create one. LinkedIn makes it super easy to develop your own professional billboard to show off your best personal attributes.

If you already have an account, when’s the last time you updated it? If it’s been more than six months, give it a refresh—even if you don’t think it needs one. Take 10 minutes to review your professional summary, make any necessary updates, or upload any recent work you’ve done to showcase your accomplishments. It’s worth it.

START A BLOG

Blogging is an extremely powerful branding tool. It allows you to find your voice and demonstrate your knowledge on any topic that interests you professionally or creatively.

Let’s say you’re really interested in the interior design industry. You can start a blog about home decor inspiration, influential interior designs that peak your interest, color palettes, whatever strikes you. You’ll build a comprehensive package that demonstrates your aesthetic and approach to interior design.

Blogging is an extremely powerful branding tool. It allows you to find your voice and demonstrate your knowledge on any topic that interests you professionally or creatively.

The key is consistency. When you continually post to your blog, you increase your chances of developing an audience (an amazing perk), but you’ll also become an expert on your chosen subject matter. Depending on the job, it’s a great link to include on your resume to demonstrate your passion and dedication to your field, even after work hours. You can even house your blog on your digital portfolio for a holistic approach to your brand. Speaking of which...

CREATE A DIGITAL PORTFOLIO

A digital portfolio is similar to LinkedIn in that it’s a place where you can house all the evidence of your personal brand, but it also offers flexibility that you won’t find on a LinkedIn profile. With a portfolio, you have the option of customizing how you show off your work and experience.

The best part? You don’t have to be a web design genius to create one. Platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, and Cargo Collective make it easy to create your own portfolio site for free. For a small annual fee, you can set a site up on a custom url.

We all get tired of reading about networking, but there’s a reason why it’s cliché: it works. 

ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS OR INDUSTRY WORKSHOPS AND GATHERINGS

We all get tired of reading about networking, but there’s a reason why it’s cliché: it works. While networking may seem scary at first (it definitely was for me), the more you do it, the more confident you will feel. There are various ways to find out about local networking events in your city that are tailored to your specific interests. A great place to start? Google. Simply searching “networking events in (insert your city here)” will give you lots of options.

If you’re looking for a very specific type of networking event, Meetup.com is another great resource. Or try asking colleagues. If you’re in a metropolitan area, check out upcoming events at General Assembly or Creative Mornings (founded by one of our favorite girlbosses, Tina Roth Eisenberg).

ENGAGE IN SOCIAL MEDIA

Get social—and, believe us, there are so many social media platforms out there to choose from. They can all be used for a different component of your personal brand. For example, Twitter can be used as your place to publicly share your professional knowledge and interact with influencers in your field. LinkedIn is your hub to display your work, Facebook is your “homebase” to connect with friends and family, and the list goes on. We’ve broken down all the ways you can use social media to promote your personal brand here. Get tweeting.

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What is the most important element to creating/ maintaining a personal brand? Answer in the comments below.