build your brandIt’s wild to think that an entirely new economy has grown from the Internet in the form of digital, web-based businesses and enterprises.

An entire system of companies and people with careers that didn’t even exist 25, 15, or even 5 years ago is thriving thanks to our global interconnectivity online.

But as more and more people turn to digital-based products and services, the web becomes an incredibly noisy place.

We have to find ways to make our voices heard and to make sure the information that’s floating around about us is accurate and representative of our best selves.

This is why building a personal brand is critical – so that we have an online presence that is uniquely ours, easily recognized in the crowd, and not tied down to a specific job title that may undergo dramatic changes in the next few years (or cease to exist at all).

Let’s look at specific, actionable steps you can take today to establish your own personal brand.

Google Yourself

The first step is to determine what you’re working with. Google your name and evaluate the information that comes up.

Did the search engine return a wealth of photos from college that recall drunken escapades and a few bad decisions? Time to clean up that web presence and present a more collected, thoughtful, and wiser face to the digital world.

Was Google unable to find you at all? Keeping personal information secure and private is smart, but you need to be established online in some capacity. Start by building a professional LinkedIn profile or joining Google+.

Start Branding with Your Logo

Wait, you’re a person – people don’t have logos! In reality, we do. They’re our photos, the ones we choose to use in profile pictures and avatars.

You want your photo to represent who you are (but do keep it fairly professional, even if you’re a creative). Make sure you choose a picture that is of good quality, that clearly shows your face and great smile. You want to exude friendliness and approachability to encourage potential connections to reach out and get in touch if necessary.

Be sure that you use this “logo” across all the platforms you use online. Consistency will help boost personal brand recognition.

Take Credit Where Credit Is Due

Do you have published materials online? Make sure they include a byline with your name and, preferably, professional headshot. Cultivate your online work into a single portfolio that you run. A website with a domain like yourname.com is a great place to start.

Create a Place for Your Voice

In addition to establishing a personal website that shares professional details and samples of work, consider adding in a blog. This space can be used to create valuable content that you can then share across your network or industry to further promote your brand (as well as put your knowledge and expertise on display).

If blogging is just a little much for you, at least be active on social media channels and engage with others – you can always share the content of other people, which clues people in to what you find noteworthy and important.