For years, marketers have worked with companies to build their brand. Cementing a brand message into a consumer’s mind makes sure you’ll get a shot at their business when they need your service.  Imagine your air conditioner stops working and it’s 95 degrees outside.  You’ll head to your computer and do a search for a repair company.  You’ll likely click on the first company you see that has a name or brand you already know.

It’s not just unknown companies that need to sell their brand.  Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s oldest companies and the world’s largest advertiser.  Who doesn’t know Coca-Cola?  Coke is spending a reported $4 billion dollars in advertising its brand.

Google is the 2nd most valuable brand in the world, and so popular it runs the risk of becoming a generic word for search.  Still, it spent millions to sponsor this year’s World Series on television.

Your personal brand is just as important.  It can help define who you are and help in all sorts of ways.  From recruiting for your business, starting up a side business, or trying to line up financing.  You can bet potential partners will search your name on-line.  What will they find?

I know you’re busy.  You’re working a lot of hours and that to-do list is long.  However, making time to update and manage your personal brand can literally be the difference in getting a deal done.  So, let’s get started!  Here are 8 things to do as you get ready to take on the world in 2018:

First, Find Yourself

Type your name into Google with quotes around it.  See what pops up.  You need to understand what others see when they check you out.

Find Your Thing

The first thing you’ve got to do is have a serious discussion with yourself.  What is your area of expertise?  What is the one thing you want people searching for you to know about you?  You’ll want to make sure you are specific in what you choose.  Business Executive is too board.  Think more along the lines of “Deal Maker” or “New Business Development Specialist.”

Whatever you do, be authentic.  Don’t exaggerate or puff yourself up.

Take Advantage of Social Media

You’ll need to make sure you have a presence on major social media platforms.  Start with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  Make sure your profile is complete.  It needs to be more than just resume material.  You should highlight accomplishments and what you want to be known for.

LinkedIn is often the first stop for professionals, so make sure you keep material on LinkedIn focused on your professional side.  It’s OK for your family to show up in your Facebook feed, but you may want to consider a Facebook fan page to showcase your professional side.

Pay attention to headers and profile pictures.  Make sure your “head shot” is professional in nature and, if possible, show off your expertise in your header.

Post regularly, but make sure everything you post aligns with your personal brand.

Post and Share

Look for news articles related to your field.  Sharing these can be a resource to your colleagues.  Consider providing your analysis or asking for theirs.  If you get media coverage for something you’re involved in, that’s great too.  Share it online and expand its reach.

Congratulate your colleagues on accomplishments and celebrate milestone in your business.

Maintain a Professional Presence

A great way to boost your personal brand is by attending conferences and events in your niche.  Not only does it provide networking opportunities, but it’s a great way to be seen.   If you can get yourself added to a speaker’s list, even better.  Try to buddy up with someone and have them take pictures of you at the event, or speaking, and use them to enhance your reputation on social media.

Passing on your Knowledge

You’ve been in business long enough to have learned all sorts of things.  What can you pass on to others to help them, and enhance your expert status?  Can you write a short synopsis of what you saw at that convention and post it to LinkedIn (along with a picture)?

You may want to consider a personal website, branded with your specialty or name.  It can sound daunting, but it’s easy to get started.  There are plenty of free or low-cost tools available.  A great way to establish your credentials as a leader in your industry is to write articles on topics of importance and share them.  Start by posting to your blog or website, and then sharing the link.

If you don’t have time to do all that, there’s an easier way as well.  Look for news items and social media posts related to your business.  Click on the comments button and add your two-cents.  It’s quick and easy.

Don’t Forget Email

I’m sure your email is professional – no more of those “partyboy2017” email addresses – but you can also use your email to advance your professional brand.  Update your email signature by adding a picture or business logo, along with links to your personal website, or professional social media accounts.

Consider dropping an email to colleagues or industry leaders.  You might be amazed by what happens when you either ask for advice or share an idea. – even with someone you don’t know.

Invest in Yourself

An investment in your personal brand is really an investment in you.  It sends a message to others who you are and what you believe in.   More importantly, it signals what you want them to know about you.

Whether it’s for the business where you work, or the business you own, your personal brand is tied more closely to your business than you know.  In an era where companies are being trusted less, the person behind the company is often more important than the business itself.