Friday, January 04, 2013
Defining Your Online Brand
Everyone knows what a brand is… most people associate it with a product or a company like Cheetos® or Nike®. We have been talking about Corporate Brand in the recruiting industry for quite awhile and now Personal Brand has become just as popular. You hear it on everything from the Wall Street Journal to America’s Next Top Model. What exactly does Personal Brand mean and do you really need one?
I teach a workshop on personal branding so I read a lot of articles on this subject. Today I read an article by Jasmine Sandler about How to Create a Visible and Engaging LinkedIn Profile that also explains personal branding extremely well. I would like to take it outside of LinkedIn and apply it to your career goals and personal life.
What is it? Your Personal Brand is basically what people think about you. How they see you at work, in real life and more and more importantly these days, online. Going one step further, what they will say about you to their friends, associates and colleagues.
Why do you need one? Even if you don’t think you need one, you have one. It might not be what you would expect. People are forming opinions about you based on their interactions with you, word of mouth (what they see and hear about you) and how you present yourself. You need to take control of how people view you and show yourself in the best light. Good lighting is crucial for a great picture and you are creating a picture of yourself for the world to see. If you are a job-seeker you need a strong, positive personal brand to attract prospective employers, present who you are and get interviews. As an employee you need a good brand at work to make the best possible impression, define how you can contribute to the organization and advance your career.
How do you do it right? You should start by knowing yourself, your capabilities, and the direction you want to go and then start building your brand. A key place to start is building a powerful online brand. This will be the cornerstone of your personal brand. The article I reference earlier is a great example of building out your LinkedIn profile which is the most important professional social network at this time. You should also create profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and maybe even Pinterest to share your perspective and establish credibility. Show your personality and let people see your thinking, world view and sense of humor. (Remember to constantly manage and adjust privacy settings to only show professional pictures and interactions.)
Start Building Credibility… when you develop your online profile, make sure people can find you when searching by using key words that are the most relevant and make sure your profile reflects those key words. Be sure and publish your recommendations and accomplishments. Highlight your successes… share the conferences you are attending, articles you have published and accolades received. Stay informed… subscribe to publications like Forbes, Bloomberg, Tech Crunch and follow your favorite companies and people. Join groups related to your industry and comment on the articles that interest you or that especially touched or informed you. Engage in conversations, share your expertise! Be consistent, select a unified theme for all social media so people will easily recognize you everywhere.
Become a Subject Matter Expert… decide what you want to be known for and make sure people know you for that. Share your opinions, educate and inform others. You can start by creating a blog. It doesn't have to be super high tech, many sites like Blogger are very easy to use and set up. Create engaging content about whatever you are passionate about and share your passion with the world. Finally network and make connections… you never know where that next speaking engagement invitation or job offer will come from.
Remember the three fundamentals… Be Seen, Be Heard and Be Respected. See you online!