Branding. It’s not just important for companies, it’s also very important for people, especially if you have a career, are a public speaker, attend conferences, etc. Let me take a moment to talk to you about personal branding and some of the ways I choose to create my personal brand.
1. Create an avatar and use it consistently. Make sure the photo you choose is of you and professional looking. Sorry no night club selfies. Use this image in all your social networking platforms. I tend to sway from this for my facebook because I keep my facebook at a very personal level. I only add people who really know me. But I use the same image consistently for all my professional, public facing platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. This is so important, especially if you network outside your circle. It gives people an easy way to identify that it is you. People who may not see you every day, will easily be able to recognize that it is you because they will identify with the consistent brand being presented. You can easily recognize the big player companies by their logos. So should your following easily be able to recognize you by your avatar.
I would like to add to this with something I recently told a friend who needs to brand herself, as well as, her company. Her company, given the product she sells, needs a face to associate with the company. So in her case, I told her to make sure her personal avatar could also relate back to her company and her product, as well, while still having her personal persona show through. People will identify her by her avatar while also being able to tie it back to her company. It’s like that “one rock, two birds” saying, which is actually a pretty horrific analogy.
2. This one should seem obvious, but create those social networking platforms, and yes, even Google+. It gives people more ways to find you. Everyone has their personal preference for which social networking site they want to use the most, so be sure to hit all the avenues, so that all your hard networking skills aren’t put to waste when the people you networked with can’t find you.
Let me also expand on that by saying, keep your handles/usernames consistent, as much as possible. I try to keep my email, social networking sites, blogs/forums, even my Github account, all the same. This allows people to easily find me and contact me. In Personal Branding, we can’t be associated with a company name, but we can be identified by our handles. Also, you don’t need to be super creative with your handles, using the name you were given at birth is perfectly sufficient. It’s actually better than sufficient, it makes sense. No longer do people have to forget your name and only identify you as ‘LadiesMan217’. They can remember your name, simply by remembering your handle. And yes, I did just make a Transformers reference there.
3. Make your bios and taglines showcase everything that makes you, you. And in case you haven’t caught on to the theme, keep them consistent. Let everyone equally be able to see just how awesome you are. Try to include something relating to your career, your hobbies, and your personal life. Don’t let your career define who you are. More companies looking to hire employees want to hire real live people, and they want to know what those people do in their spare time. All your professional experiences can carry just as much weight as your personal interests. Companies are looking more at fit than just at how much you know, and personal interests can give employers a lot more to go on with fit. Also, companies are looking for creative individuals who can think outside the box, and showcasing your personal interests can give you that edge.
4. Make a contribution. Give back to the community. You have a great ideas, personal opinions, works of art, share them with the world. Leave your digital footprint in the world. Everyone has an opinion about something, everyone has something to say, why shouldn’t you be included in that. Write a blog, join forums, answer questions, start a github or some other way of sharing your work. Put yourself out there. The only way someone is going to know what you are all about is if you tell them. Most importantly this will give you a web presence. I know, sometimes you just don’t want to be found, but in the case of employers or your following, you want them to be able to find you and show them that you are contributing to the world around you.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your digital footprint in the world.
Credits: I would like to thank JLS Creative Solutions, an advertising company, I worked at that started me on the path of branding. I would, also, like to thank the amazing, innovative team I work with currently for sharing with me the concept of personal branding and the support to come out of my comfort zone.