Businesses spend years coming up with a brand that they can promote to their target market. With the right branding, consumers will experience a company and know exactly what it does and what its overall mission is.

The same type of branding can be applied on an individual basis. Personal branding is the message you send to others about your own background and area of expertise. Whether you’re actively looking for a job or not, you should work hard to make sure everyone you encounter in the business world gets the right impression of you from the start.

Personal Branding for Social Media

Nothing exemplifies personal branding like an individual’s social media feed. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or a similar platform, you can often get a feel for someone’s personal brand by looking at the overall tone of the posts. If you’re hoping to get ahead in your career, that general impression should match your professional reputation. Sure, you may want a place to share weekender photos and gush about your love for Game of Thrones trivia, but set that social media profile to private and make sure only your friends and relatives can see it.

Your In-Person Brand

The internet isn’t the only place for personal branding. You make a similar impression in your daily interactions. Whether you’re seated at your desk or interacting with clients in a meeting, the way you speak, dress and carry yourself makes up your overall image. Even in written materials such as your business cards, resume, and email signature line, you convey a personal brand that ensures people remember you long after you’ve met. If your business has a required email signature, you may still be able to add in a personal motto or sign off on each of your emails with a closing line that communicates your personal style.

As you work to define and communicate your personal brand, make sure you remain consistent. If you’re constantly switching or you send mixed messages, you may find that others think you lack direction. Provided the personal brand you’ve chosen matches your own core values, it should follow you throughout your career, over many decades, job changes, and promotions.