Building your brand is a never ending process.

It starts in our youth, evolves as we progress through middle school, high school, and college. It is part of us when we express words of encouragement or empathy towards colleagues. Our brand is evident in how we carry ourselves in and out of the workplace. Our brands are always with us.

So wouldn’t it make sense to use your brand as a tool in your toolkit as you prepare for your next carer move?

Career paths are never as linear as we had hoped. Upwards of 70% of people work in a field that is not directly related to their Bachelors degree. What matters most is that our careers paths are always moving us forward. Sometimes we need support and a strategy to thrive in our current or next career.

Whether you’re looking to change industries, functions, or advance in your current role, branding makes a difference. Here are 4 practical steps you can take to build your brand…

Step 1: Your LinkedIn Headline is Precious Real Estate!

Your header appears directly below your name on your profile. Use it to position yourself by communicating who you are in less than 120 characters. Position yourself towards the audience that you want to be a part of. Use words that describe what you want to be associated with. Get specific. List qualifications, skills, passions, and strengths. This is critical since recruiters search for keywords and phrases to find you. Here are other ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Pro Tip: Keywords in your headline can include educational achievements (CPA, MBA, PhD) and certifications. Convey your credibility. That way it isn’t glossed over if a recruiter doesn’t scroll down to your education or certification section.

Step 2: Build your digital presence

As you build your brand, you also want to build your thought leadership. How can you do this? We’ve identified 4 steps you can take to develop your thought leadership, specifically. One of the most important ones is sharing content on your social channels.

Our recommendation is to start simple. Follow companies that are in your industry of interest. Then, re-share or retweet their content! For example, if you’re transitioning into BioTech, you can share content from Gilead, Merck, or Pfizer to convey to your network the industry you’re interested in and that you’re following their presence in the news. So, what’s the next step? Start following influencers and leaders who are from those companies. Share their content and engage in their online conversations.

Pro Tip: Create original, engaging content!
Create engaging original content

Step 3: Participate in communities

You need to solicit the help of your network. Facebook and LinkedIn Groups can help. Both social sites offer professional groups for digital marketers, entrepreneurs, startups, and much more! We previously wrote about the benefits of communities where you can interact with professionals who are in the industry, career, or role that you’re interested in. Observe the trends they are following and the resources that they share. Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary they are use.

Pro Tip: Give more than you take! Make sure you read posts and offer support and solutions where you can.

Step 4: Invest in Professional Organization Memberships

While professional organizations require an upfront investment in the form of a membership fee, you gain so much! The benefits pay themselves multiple times over through networking opportunities — in person or virtual. Take advantage of local chapter meetings or monthly networking events. Many organizations offer webinars, mentoring, and coaching too. Joining a professional organization is starting place to build your brand. You can also add this affiliation to your resume and LinkedIn.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support from members. That can come in many forms. One way is you could seek out a mentor. Another way is to ask members if they know anyone in their network who currently work in the field you are interested in. Approach it as you aren’t asking for a job, but you are asking for an informational interview. Be willing to share your experience and open up your network too.