In a world where so much of our lives are shared online, one of the most effective ways to boost your career is by nurturing your virtual presence with exceptional personal branding.

Whether you’re an executive with a wealth of knowledge spanning decades or a fresh-faced entrepreneur just starting out, ignoring social media entirely will ultimately kill your career.

But those willing to embrace the virtual world will thrive with new opportunities – as long as they make the effort to stand out with strong personal branding.

For the last 20 years, Powerful Steps Founder Tory Archbold has worked with leading companies across the globe including Zara, Sephora, Nespresso and Seafolly – making her an expert at building brands.

Now the public relations’ maven is sharing her personal branding wisdom with leading executives wanting to take their success to new heights.What is personal branding?

No matter your professional status, personal branding allows you to differentiate yourself by elevating your overall online image. Through understanding your audience, highlighting your core abilities and establishing your voice, you will ultimately advance your career to great heights.

“People on LinkedIn often have the same profile for 10 years, but we all know that in 10 years you could have grey hair and wrinkles, and have put on a few kilos,” Tory says. “It’s not just about having one head shot and forgetting about it. You have to see yourself as a brand.”

Armed with an award-winning copywriter, professional photographer and renowned styling team, Tory completely overhauls professionals’ LinkedIn profiles and coaches them to reach new levels of their careers.

Through her Empowering You course (which is run alongside her Business Attraction Program), business leaders are able to step online with a strong, polished presence – their revamped personal brand.

“We’re running a campaign but for a personal brand,” Tory explains. “My role has always been to make sure the talent actually steps into the inner power they have.

“If you’re the voice of a brand or a spokesperson of your own business, how you look at the camera and what your energy looks like is going to be the difference between someone saying they want to connect with you or not.

Amplifying skills and tapping into one’s power allows for each business leader to put their best foot forward, opening themselves up for inspiring business connections they’d once only dreamed of.

“A lot of director-level women who lead teams come to me and we clean up their profile and they vibrate at a much higher level,” she says. “My clients have invested in learning something about themselves, but also by stepping into their power zone, they walk away feeling really confident and they actually want to show their talents to the world.”Discovering your brand

Lauded as the secret to personal branding photo-shoot success, it’s the global experts who really elevate the experience beyond any ordinary shoot.

Personal styling by Mars; hair and make-up by the world-renowned Michael Brown – whose clients include Gisele Bundchen, Miranda Kerr and Hailey Bieber; photography by Waded plus Tory’s keen eye for detail and honesty are the dream team for powerful imagery.

Experiencing the day firsthand, I was able to jump in front of the lens while Waded worked her magic. While I was riddled with nerves, Tory did what she has done with talent for decades – offer calming techniques.

“Your energy shows through the page, so if your energy is not right and you feel nervous, it’s going to show,” Tory explains. “My role is to make everyone feel like themselves and get the best out of them.”

Three outfit changes later and a quick hair touch-up, Waded had an array of photographs capturing my true essence.

Limited to just four people per session, it was Rachel White, Director Asia–Pacific and Japan, Expert Services, Customer Outcomes, who saw the greatest transformation.

Fresh from taking three months off at the end of 2020, Rachel was inspired to step into her own power – a courageous move she often encourages others to do.

“I didn’t want to return to work with the old stresses and everything the pandemic brought. I wanted to shake it off and do something new and out of my comfort zone,” she shared with The CEO Magazine. “I put my best foot forward and physically shook off 2020.”

Working in digital transformation, Rachel notes that successful businesses have been those with a clear purpose that put customers front and centre – much like the core of the personal branding shoots.

“It was great being surrounded by talented, vibrant and strong women. Towards the end of the session, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of support, from pretty much strangers, and that felt amazing to me,” Rachel says. “It was like being wrapped it a warm hug.”Benefits of personal branding

Producing sharp, powerful images is fundamental to being visible in a virtual world.

Not just any photographer or expert team can capture the true magic and emotion of the talent in front of the camera.

“It takes a very skilled person to capture the energy of clients,” Tory explains. “It’s the difference between someone wanting to connect with you or someone else. The energy is a magnet for attraction, so you’ve got to get it right.”

And the results are attracting lengthy waitlists.

Those who have overhauled their personal brand through Empowering You have seen an increase of three times more opportunities opening up each week.

“When people start investing in themselves and their business, they’re no longer the wallflower – they actually become the butterfly,” Tory says. “They become more confident in the way they speak, the way they communicate and the way they position themselves.

“All of a sudden they want to share it with the world and the opportunities start flowing in because they’re more active on social media, they’re building connections and networking with different people.”

Personal branding isn’t something you just need to establish, you also need to nurture and continually build to ensure you keep jumping to your next career level.

“It’s not just about having one head shot and forgetting about it. You have to see yourself as a brand.” – Tory Archbold

Having worked with 585 businesses as well as owning 12 small businesses, Erica King has well and truly made it to great heights.

During retirement, the highly regarded business development mentor launched another business – Life Lessons with Erica King – seeing her leap back into full-time work and a life she’s passionate about.

The serial entrepreneur has been to countless photo shoots, but none quite like Powerful Step’s personal branding course.

“When you meet a photographer for the first time, they’re brilliant at what they do but they haven’t got that understanding of what my brand needs and Tory’s attention and doggedness to get the right shot is really appreciated – and that’s unique,” Erica says.

Coaching hundreds of CEOs and C-suite leaders, Erica understands how important a fresh perspective is to business success.

“It doesn’t matter who you are – if you’re in a corporate role or you own a business, we get in a group and we don’t really know what we don’t know,” she explains. “From that point of view, the shoot is really helpful.

“Plus, I don’t think we get smarter listening to ourselves.”Six secrets to personal brandingInvest in yourself

“It’s not about looking for a new job,” Tory says. “What you’re doing is raising your vibration to connect with like-minded people. A lot of corporates will invest the funds themselves because they know for their career and positioning it will elevate them.”Captivating copy

“When people Google your name, the number one thing that comes up is your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn bio has to show people what your superpower is. The first three sentences are on Google – what’s it going to say about you?”Finding your brand

“Who are you? What do you stand for? What’s your intent? What’s your purpose? Most importantly, what do you deliver in a professional capacity? That needs to match what your image is and that’s what attracts people.”Share the true you

“Understand the value of human connection. Don’t be afraid to look polished, but also don’t be afraid to be yourself – that’s what people need to do now. You need to be approachable.”Harnessing opportunities

“People go through this transformational phase where they have more confidence and they begin to believe in themselves. As soon as you have the energy shift and people know you’re available and you’re open to opportunities, you naturally start attracting opportunities.”Constantly update

“People are updating social media all the time. You should be constantly updating LinkedIn content every 6–12 months – I recommend every six months.”Starting fresh in 2021

After the COVID-19 challenges that disrupted the economy for much of 2020, this year holds new hope for business leaders wanting to hit the refresh button.

While many companies are finding their pre-COVID momentum, a number of ideas have been transformed into startups including Amped Up Marketing & Communications.

Natalie Coulson founded the public relations and marketing company mid-2020 after 15 years in the magazine publishing industry.

Having spent much of her time focusing on clients and their branding, Natalie wanted to shift gears and focus on personal branding for herself.

“I wanted to start showing up in a bigger way this year,” she says. “I wanted to bust out, wear some great clothes, have fun and improve my digital identity – connection is a core value of mine.

“I understand the huge benefit of connecting well with an audience and building a community. This is so important for all brands now.”

The hunger for a fresh start and optimistic outlook is being felt by many business leaders, especially in Australia where the pandemic isn’t as prevalent as it is in the UK or the US.

Typically hosting one photo shoot a month, Tory had to double the number of shoots in February to meet high demand.

“Investing in your image is the best investment in a professional capacity,” she explains. “Everyone’s stepping into their power.”

Feature image: Waded