What is a personal brand? Your personal brand is not only who you are, it’s how others see you. Employers. Co-workers. Future employers. Clients.
A good way to think about this is to think about you as packaging on a shelf. I hate to take it to this level, but if you are looking for work, this is how employers think. They are looking for the “product” that best fits their need.
Now, if this sounds unappealing, think about this: Unlike the product on the shelf, you have a choice as to who’s shopping cart you go for a ride in! So while you build and develop a brand, remember your brand always has the ability to ask whether you are a fit with the organization looking to hire you. That is one of the cards you hold.
Examples of a personal brand could be:
Aspiring copywriter with a flair for humor
Account planner focused on brand strategy
Client services professional dedicated to great customer service
Things to remember and keep in mind when developing and refining your brand.
- Be consistent
- Define who you are/what you want. Unless you have no definition. That’s a brand too. But don’t expect someone else to figure you out.
- If you don’t know what you want, focus on who you are. Try to have one of these set especially if you are looking for work.
- View yourself as others will and build how you want them to see you.
- Know yourself.
- Be confident in your abilities.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses.
You have something to offer. It’s your job to effectively communicate what that is. There are people/employers out there that will figure it out themselves but you can’t rely on that.
What if you are still trying to figure out your next steps or what your brand is? That’s OK too, but be aware of the messages and content you are “putting out there”. Every message has the potential to influence your brand.
Social media is now where our personal brands often live.
Linkedin is your brand at work.
Facebook is your brand at play.
Twitter is your brand speaking.
If you are looking for a job, you send your resume to a company – What is the first thing an employer does when they get your resume and are potentially interested in your background? They immediately go to your Linkedin page to see what you look like. But, they are also digging deeper into your background and experience and looking for consistencies or inconsistencies in your background. If your Linkedin profile does not match or support your resume, it sends a bad signal to the employer. They are left to question why there are inconsistencies. People are busy. They may not take the time to try to figure out why you have an inconsistent message.
Your Linkedin profile is your chance to really impress, expand upon and support what is listed in your resume.
The use of Linkedin has exploded in the last 12-24 months. It’s hiring voyeurism.
Linkedin is your on-line resume and a very powerful job search tool.
- Put a picture up. You can make this invisible to people you aren’t connected with. Why would you do this? In case you do not want people either making judgments based on how you look, privacy.
- Write a compelling summary. Keep it short but sweet. It can grow as your career grows.
- Write a summary/bio that tells people who you are, what you are, and some of your accomplishments. Summarize your “brand”
- Constantly develop your network/add connections.
- Get recommended. And recommend people back.
- Join Groups related to your career interests.
- Complete your profile – add details and accomplishments to your work history.
- Be careful in selecting a title – make it mean something.
- Put in too much personal information
- Look nude in your photo
- Use abbreviations – spell things out
- Use Linkedin too aggressively when looking for a job – example – you send your resume to HR at a company, and then find the HR person at that company and send them a note through Linkedin. Too forward.
Your resume supports your brand. It needs to be consistent with Linkedin. This helps support and furthers your brand.
Don’t believe what they all say about employers and Facebook – yes, employers will try to look at your profile and make judgments on what you are doing. There have been many articles scaring people into believing that HR will disqualify people based on their FB activity. There has also been just as many articles that indicate employers want to see you out socializing. This indicates that you have a healthy social life and can potentially be a good teammate and connect well with clients and vendors.
Twitter is your brand speaking. Be cognizant of what you post. Try to either strike a balance between your personal and professional or consider separate accounts. If you are branding yourself an expert or have passion in a particular area, support this through your Tweets.
All this activity that you do and all this content that you are putting out there, supports what you are saying when you are in interview situations.
For example, you go into an interview as the “aspiring copywriter with the flair for humor” and the writing on your Linkedin has no humor or no flair, your brand is not consistent. If you, however, have some compelling writing, are connected with Linkedin groups that are industry specific, and have Twitter feeds and posts based on writing, industry news, ad campaigns you find are well done, etc., you begin to form a more consistent brand.
Communication and appearance are also big aspects to your brand. This can be the “experience” of your brand. The employer has taken the package off the shelf and may be interacting with the product. What is the experience they have when interacting with your brand?
If you are super casual and want to work in a place that is super casual, that kind of appearance may become part of your brand. But be aware that I may not fit everyplace. Be keenly aware of your brand perception.
In summary – your brand is your package. It’s the look and feel. It’s the wording. It’s the product itself. The benefits of using the product. How you feel when interacting with the product.
The product on the shelf. You.