When we hear the term brand what usually comes to mind is McDonald’s, Apple, Target – big name companies but in today’s online world, investing in one’s own personal brand is becoming more and more popular and important.
You might recognize some personal brands like TRUMP, Disney and Ford. However, what is new is how everyday people, like you and me, have become brands.
So, what is personal branding? It is the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organization. If you have your own website, use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, you are branding yourself. You have created an online identity.
Why is this so important? Why can’t I just have fun with social media? Well you can, but if you don’t take control of your personal brand, then you’re letting others control your narrative AND you’ll be missing out on opportunities.
To be sure you have created the right brand, ask yourself the following questions: Do you know your audience? What story do you want to tell? What makes you stand out from the rest? What emotion do you want to leave your audience with? These are similar questions we ask our own clients at Oster and Associates, and our business has revolved around supporting brands for over 32 years, so we know or a thing or two about branding.
No matter what your age or where you’re at in your career, someone is checking you out online and what they find could affect your personal and professional well-being. For example, if you’re looking for a job, the first thing employers will do is do a Google search of your name. According to CareerBuilder, “More than half of employers won’t hire potential candidates without some sort of online presence today.”
The most popular professional network is LinkedIn. It’s a great branding tool. Here you can tell your professional story. It’s like an online resume that contains your work history and accomplishments. It’s an additional channel for growing your own successes.
Twitter can also be used professionally, as a messaging tool.
As for Facebook and Instagram, these are used more as lifestyle tools to highlight your personality.
Whatever social media channel you’re using or want to use, be sure you stay away from the following no-no’s:
- Unprofessional behavior (again, you never know who may be screening you)
- Unprofessional communication style (reread what you’ve written before you hit send and look for typos)
- Criminal behavior (drug use or anything illegal)
- Polarizing views (what you normally stay away from at dinner parties – politics, religion, race, gender)
- Unsavory images (would mom approve?)
- Profanity, explicit content
- Violence or bullying
- Bigoted behavior
Once you have a clear outline of your personal brand, jot down your short and long-term personal branding goals. Highlight your unique qualities, talents, area of expertise and don’t forget to include your accomplishments. Include photos and videos where appropriate, as long as you keep the no-nos in mind. Again, if it helps to tell your story, use those assets. With these steps, you will be on your way to building an online presence that leaves folks with a great first impression of you.