Let me start with the Google story.
It was a usual day at Stanford, except that Mr.K Ram Shriram, an angel investor, had paid a visit to the institute on some business. As he was entering the lift two young minds, Sergey Brin and Lary Page, Ph.D. students at the university, rushed to him with their idea of the search engine that we today know as Google. Their university brand and all other credentials were not enough were not enough for Shriram to give them an appointment. Neither was he interested in some idea that he frequently came across.
Uninterested as he was, he gave them time until he reached the ground floor to explain their idea. As the lift stopped at the ground floor and the passengers moved out, Mr. Shriram handed them his business card and asked them to meet him in his office.
It was just a matter of around 30-40 seconds. What did they say? How did they impress him? The answer: they sold themselves, their enthusiasm and their vision. In short, they Branded Themselves!!!
Yes, this is what is called Personal Branding – people marketing themselves as brands. The concept of personal-branding suggests that success comes from self-packaging. This is important in every walk of our life. We brand ourselves when we meet new people and we remember them by the brand they create of themselves.
Branding doesn’t just happen live and in person, but exists everywhere. With the digital age taking front-seat, we also need to pay attention to our persona and brand on the digital and social platforms. These platforms impacts not only our personal life but also our professional life.
How you show up, share and engage online builds your reputation and personal brand with audiences who may know you or want to know you. On the professional front, recruiters have moved from just looking into the resume of candidates to looking into their social profiles and understanding their persona. This helps them understand the candidate as a whole and their culture fit. It also provides an idea of the other skills not mentioned on the CV.
So how do you build your online brand to impact your career? There are a lot of things one can do which range from blogging, being active on Facebook & Twitter, sharing your thoughts and articles on LinkedIn etc.
Below are a few things you can start with.
- Understand what you want from social media: Figure out what you want to be known for, your passions, views etc. Know how each platform can help you and pick the platforms that fits in your requirements.
- Create your Identity: Set-up social account profiles on LinekedIn, Twitter etc if you already don’t have one and Connect with like-minded people on LinkedIn and follow on Twitter. These should reflect what you do to pursue your personal calling.
- Conversations: Be quick in responding to messages and comments on your blog to keep the conversation going and engage the audience. Using tools like Twitter and RSS feeds you may get important news pushed to you. But you also need to add value to the conversation by contributing your thoughts in replies and commenting on blogs in similar industry/field.
- Share: Social media is a great place to showcase your knowledge, state your opinions and gain exposure. Creating interesting and original content that shows your passions and interests can help build credibility. Being consistent with the content helps build reputation. There are several free services such as Blogger or WordPress.com which can come handy in this.
- Be clear when writing blogs and titles. The language should be understandable by an average reader.
- Creating multimedia content such as infographics, videos and presentations is a good way to keep the audience interested. You can also share the links of your content across various platforms.
- Every platform has a different audience. So tweak your content for each platform.
- Make sure to share the right content with the right audience. Posting a long article on Facebook or a two-liner on a blog could cause your audience to lose interest.
- Network & Reputation: Having a good network can increase your reach, and in that having influential people in the network is a huge advantage. The number of likes, shares, followers, views, favourites, ratings etc. establishes an online reputation. Having good relationships (or networks) can help increase the count and build reputation.
- Online Communities: Participating on various online communities and discussion forums also counts. Join popular and influential communities. Contributing to the conversation through questions, answers and meaningful comments helps you get noticed among the group participants and increases your network.
It is also important to measure the results of your efforts. By regular monitoring of your online presence you can take required steps to move it in the direction you want it to.
- Ego-surfing: Google your-name. Check where you figure in the search list. Is someone else with same name in the top results? Is the search giving accurate and consistent results? If not, remove any unwanted content and modify it. This is also known as Defensive Googling.
- Google Alerts: This is a free service that alerts you on mail whenever people say something about you. You can also check when other words that interest you are published online. [For more: Personal Branding with Google Alerts & Using Google Alerts]
- Use analytics tools: Social platforms have analytics tools to help users understand their online standing. Facebook has analytics for page, LinkedIn has profile view analytics etc. Use these to track your performance on these platforms and change your approach accordingly.
Final Tip: Whatever the platform you use to build your brand, BE CREATIVE!! Your main objective is to differentiate yourself from the lot and show an original angle to your thoughts.
A powerful personal brand wields influence and with it you are likely to enjoy:
- A steady stream of ideal clients
- Rewarding Partnerships
- Leadership Opportunities
- Greater mindshare
- Association with a market niche
- Greater credibility
- Recognition and prestige
- Higher perceived value
Last but not the least…
Although it sounds like a marketing hype, Personal branding gives you an opportunity.
A few links for more information: