In today’s world, digitalization has the power to make everything that you do transparent. This means that your ‘personal brand’ – what you stand for, your defining actions, and what sets you apart – is tied to your professional image, whether you realize it or not. When it comes to running a business, having a powerful, unique personal brand can help level up your company and elevate you as a specialist in your field. As a result, managing your personal brand is critical.

Importantly, by establishing a strong personal brand, you can demonstrate that you help others in the most authentic way possible. We live in an attention economy, and people are constantly looking for trusted experts. By positioning yourself with a strong, reputable personal brand, you’re signaling that you can be trusted to offer the help and guidance your audience wants.

Here’s why your personal brand is pivotal to success

Everyone who wants to have a trustworthy, respectful reputation online and offline must spend time cultivating a personal brand. For high-profile executives, this is particularly important. A recent survey found that 21% of consumers pay as much attention to the C-suite as the product itself. Additionally, it found that 65% expect CEOs to voice opinions on issues of public interest, and 60% want leaders to stand up for causes they believe in.

We’ve reached a point in society where a personal brand is more important than your career (just look at Gary Vaynerchuck and Tim Ferriss!). To be successful, you need to have a simple, unified personal brand statement that immediately identifies what you’re about.

Unfortunately, some common pitfalls exist for those new to building a personal brand. The good news is that most of these missteps aren’t fatal, and many are easy to avoid if you know what to look for. Here’s how to manage your personal brand.

5 Tips to boost your personal brand

1. Make sure you regularly contribute to your digital presence.

Organized, consistent content posting is the only way to firmly establish your digital presence. It’s easy to “get in a groove” and post a lot for a few weeks or months, only to fall off the map afterward, which sets you back to square one.

Think about building your online presence in the same way you build cardio endurance: through a slow, steady, methodical practice over time. Set a comfortable schedule for posting and participating in public forums, and stick to it.

If you’re unsure where to start, here’s a general guide: aim to write one published column for a visible industry outlet once per quarter, and plan to publish in another outlet every month (e.g., Medium, professional blog). Post to your Instagram and LinkedIn feeds 3-4 times per week, and make daily Instagram stories. Be sure to utilize all of the tools and formats of both platforms (photos, reels, reshares, etc.) to maximize engagement.

2. Avoid abrupt changes.

People like consistency. Once they view you as an expert in one thing, they want to know that they can keep relying on you for that expertise. If you become known as a cybersecurity expert, your followers will likely be confused and upset if you suddenly pivot to baking and decorating cakes.

It’s okay to have many interests; people like to see your human side. However, in the context of your brand, be sure your content is geared toward your expertise. If you plan to shift, understand that your area of expertise shouldn’t change more than once every 3-4 years.

3. Minimize public scandals.

Everyone gets into trouble now and then. None of us are perfect, and even the most polished professional can make a blunder or say something they wish they hadn’t. This doesn’t automatically tank your personal brand! The trouble starts when you’re regularly involved in public spats or strange interactions. People will think you can’t communicate effectively or resolve problems in an effective way, so learn how to manage your brand by taking care with your public interactions.

4. Allow time for results to show.

Again, you can’t go straight from one day of cardio training to running a marathon. Establishing a personal brand requires a consistent build over time. Put in your reps (aka, do the work according to your schedule) and let the small gains build over the months ahead. It can take 4-5 months of continuous effort to see measurable results.

5. Make your brand part of your personality.

Your brand should be an inherent part of you, not a façade you try to place over your real self. Whether you’ve built it for business purposes or not, your habits and actions all play a much bigger role in your public perception than you realize. Even on vacation, you should remember that anything you do publicly speaks to your personal brand, so act accordingly.

We all have a personal brand; it’s up to you to take control of it

Personal branding is more important than ever, and anyone can have a great personal brand, even without professional personal online brand reputation management.

All you need is honesty, transparency, consistency and – the most important part – your authentic self. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be sure to make one that will set you apart, build trust and reflect who you are.