Summer is the time to have fun in the sun, but it can also be a time to refine your personal brand to ensure that you end the year on a professional high note.  Here are a few tips to polish your professional brand before you say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.

  1. Get professional headshots done.  Take advantage of the summer vacation lull to get professional headshots done.  Summer is the perfect time of year to take advantage of extra daylight hours to take beautiful headshots.  If you know a photographer, crowdsource your network on social media for suggestions.  If you’re lucky enough to already have a photographer you can use, be sure to pay them for their service or offer an exchange in services that is equal to the value of the headshots.
  2. Clean up your Linkedin page.  There are countless articles on how to improve your Linkedin page, so there’s no need to rehash them here.  But be sure to take the time to create a well-edited professional bio, complete your professional resume details, and make sure your tagline aligns with your experience and goals.  You want to make your Linkedin page to look as attractive as possible to members of your professional network, prospective employers, prospective clients, and recruiters.  Be sure to use your fresh professional headshots in your profile.
  3. Practice your “elevator pitch” with a friend.  Follow the often used mantra: “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”  If you keep your brief “elevator pitch” ready for when you meet prospective networking contacts, employers, and leaders, you can lessen anxiety and nerves which will set you apart from others in your field.  Once you have a handle on your awesome skills and immediate professional goals, work with a trusted friend or advisor to refine your elevator pitch for different networking settings.  Physical distance is not a hindrance to getting this task done with tools like Google Hangout or Skype.
  4. Attend a networking event. Though many people are on hiatus for summer vacation, professional networking events for a variety of fields are still happening during the late summer season.  Check out local professional organizations related to your field, your local chamber of commerce, your college alumni network, Linkedin groups, Twitter lists, and sites like Meetup to find networking events to attend for the remainder of the summer.  You will get a lot of use out your elevator pitch and possibly make valuable professional and personal connections along the way.
  5. Get business cards made, or replenish existing ones.  Though we use more web-based technology in professional settings, having a nicely designed business card as a part of your professional brand is a plus.  If you don’t have graphic design skills, websites like Moo and Vista Print have a wide array of templates you can choose from to create a minimal, stylish business card with your current contact information and professional social media links.
  6. Create or update your blog, business website, or professional website.  In this fast-moving digital age, there is no excuse for not having a repository for your thoughts, a digital portfolio, or a site for your business.  You don’t need coding skills to develop a polished blog or website if you use platforms like WordPress, TypePad, Squarespace, or Blogger.  All you need to get started on your blog or website today are a minimal theme or template, your professional headshots and a few photos or stock images.  Have a grammar-loving friend or mentor review your site copy for editing purposes before sharing it widely.
  7. Create a personal social media strategy.  Whatever your professional goals are, having a flourishing professional social media presence can only help you in your efforts to meet your goals.  Figure out what social media channels work best for your goals and your brand and polish up your social media imagery. Then take the time to map out a brief strategy that aligns with your goals (like finding a new job or attracting new clients).  Create an editorial calendar for yourself and spend an hour our two each weekend populating and scheduling interesting articles and insights you’d like to share with your network for the week with a tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer.

How do you plan to refine your professional brand this summer?