Personal Branding – Part 1
You may think personal branding is for Influencers, Podcasters, Vloggers, and Politicians.
You’d be wrong. If you have a single social media account, you have a personal brand.
Your brand can either work for you or work against you.
Since you are here at CareerNet Nation, and you are searching for that great career, we’d suggest you think about your personal brand as a starting point to your social media clean-up. Personal brand building is something we can all do with a little time spent every day.
When you finish reading this article you will be able to begin building a personal brand today.
What is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding is the process of creating an identity for yourself as an individual for business. This involves developing a well-defined and consistent appearance, message, and presence online and offline.
Since you have made the decision to focus on you and your career, we’d recommend you spend some time thinking about and then launching your personal career brand.
CareerNet Nation’s View on Personal Branding
We cannot say it enough. Your Personal Brand is what the World sees when they search for you on the internet. It includes a selection of your positive results and your failures. Your schools, your activities, your history. Of course, your social media profiles are part of your personal brand. Yes, even the silly posts and pictures from that crazy 6th grade sleep over and summer camp pie eating contest.
Goal: Create a Personal Brand Strategy to match your Career
Short Term Goal: Get your Personal Brand under control.
Real Life Example
Let’s look at a brief case study to give you an idea.
James, 22, loved music and parties in high school and college. Who doesn’t love music and parties? But he also was a popular local DJ under the name JPop. He worked 4-6 parties or events monthly and made extra money to help pay for his expenses. Seems like a great plan. Right?
However, when he began applying for jobs in the health care industry in which he earned a degree, many questions arose in interviews concerning the pictures that existed of DJ JPop. These pictures were neither authorized by James nor were they flattering in many cases. He was just tagged by others. Easily associated with his Instagram and Facebook accounts which he used for marketing.
Understandably, James felt the questions were unfair. But his online brand was set. James wondered how many applications were dismissed without contacting him based upon a simple google search by a Human Resources pro. He also wondered how he might fix the problem and reset his personal brand.
4 Steps to Thinking about a Personal Brand properly.
Here, our recommendations to James and everyone with a social media presence that needs a Personal Brand update to match their future careers. Think of it as a personal brand guide for your career.
The great thing about building your personal brand is you control it and it evolves with your career.
- Fair or not fair. We are speaking to you members of CareerNet Nation, the concept of what is fair or not fair needs to be left for your journal entries.
The truth is employers are searching for people they see as a fit for their business. This means many things. What skills do you bring? How do you interact with people? What is your style? How will you be received by co-workers and customers? What in your past may be an issue for discussions and rumors?
Companies hire people, or at least they should. They do not hire resumes alone. These social media issues are important to people making hiring decisions. This may not seem fair, but it is a fact. Make use of this knowledge when you address your personal brand.
2. Be Consistent, Stay on Point. It’s a marathon. If you are a social media user, you have likely behaved in ways that you feel attract the most people to your profiles. After all social media is often about getting attention from friends, communities, interest groups. But the Career Brand is something very different. It is about establishing you as an interested, involved member of an industry or a profession.
Examples of Strong Personal Brands
Think about Elon Musk – His professional brand has evolved from venture capitalist to entrepreneur to industrial leader and global influencer. As his brand evolved his reputation and personality grew. Richard Branson is earlier example, although his personal brand was defined before the advent of social media.
In either case, anyone following these business leaders on social media knows who they are and, by extension, knows their personal brand. They achieved this by being direct, sincere, and honest about their thinking and opinions on subjects. EVEN WHEN THEIR ACTIONS AND OPINIONS WERE NOT POPULAR. Above all they are dedicated to their professions and consistent in their approach to maintaining their personal brands.
Remember, Career Branding isn’t a popularity contest. It is about managing and building your brand for doing business.
- Always be your real self. People innately know when you are being honest or if you are not being honest. You can’t fake it in the professional world for very long, even online. That means sharing your professional experiences honestly. For a great example of this look at the Facebook posts from its COO, Sheryl Sandberg. They are a blend of her experiences from work and social trends as they relate to her and to her work life. Sure, she is the target of online complaints and anger. People question here fairly or unfairly. When she feels obligated to respond, she does so professionally, whether it’s good news, bad news or personal attacks (which we haven’t seen any responses too). That’s her brand. At times, when her highly recognized professional profile has limited her privacy, she addressed it honestly and openly and her reputation grew. Full disclosure, we are big fans of COO Sandberg. Her brand is a great lesson in managing your own personal brand. You can’t make everyone happy, so just do the thing that is right to you and definitely think about it before you post it.
You have likely heard this, but being your real self over an extended period of time attracts similar people to your profile. You may never go viral, but the connections you make professionally will bring you far more value than likes and follows.
- Build a Narrative. What’s your story? Your story is unique – but keep it simple and bite sized. Mix video with some writing and always add pictures to your writing. Think about it this way, your personal narrative is an ongoing pathway highlighting your career experiences and pursuits. So, your posts will naturally tell a story. The trick is to not appear to be bragging or boasting AND to always see the personal problem or hurdle you encounter and post as an opportunity to face a weakness in your business strategy or your path. Be genuine and calm in your review (See 3. above). And limit it to digestible bits – 1 minute or less for videos, 2 minutes or less to read.
Ask for feedback / help from your readers. You may not always receive valuable content back, but in the least you will have a sense for how you are being received by your community.
We like both Instagram and Linkedin for personal narratives. Some people prefer Twitter – that’s ok too.
If you are a Career minded person, we have found these are excellent steps you can take to begin thinking about how to develop your brand.
Thinking about who you are and what you want to be is invaluable, and with the advent of social media as your personal tool you are published immediately and can take control of your Personal Brand.
Whant to learn more about how to build a personal brand? We speak more about Personal Brands in Part 2 of this series.