The idea of having a professional image is not a new one – uniforms have been standard for many occupations for centuries. The difference with personal branding is that the concept is not to make you look like one of the crowd, but rather to make you stand out from it.
When considering your personal brand you should look at many factors: the way you speak, the way you look, the car your drive, your education, and your character, but the single most important aspect to consider when building your brand is that it has to be real. It has to reflect the real you. A personal brand that portrays a false image will be apparent to everyone you come into contact with and will do more harm than good.
Identify the unique aspects of your personality, skills and experience and use those to make â€œyouâ€ stand out from the crowd. By building on a personal brand that it true to you, your efforts will be more rewarded and your image will be more realistic and authentic.
Using social media is an ideal way to build your personal brand, to expand and reinforce your network, but there are risks that you should be aware of.
Tips For Building Your Personal Brand Online
Here are some tips that will help you take advantage of social media to build your brand safely:
1. When networking on Facebook or other social forums always use the privacy controls to limit access to your information (usually you can find these by clicking on â€œaccountâ€).
2. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks to make people aware of what you do or want to do. Highlight your unique experiences in these forums
3. Google yourself or use Pipl to see whats being said about you and do the Granny test on the results – if Granny wouldnt approve then perhaps the content isnt appropriate to enhance your business profile.
4. Use your profiles in these forums to present an appropriate professional image. Include a good headshot that is authentic and dont post any photos, videos or images that compromise your image.
5. Portray yourself professionally (as appropriate to your industry) in all forums.
6. Be true to who you are: transparency leads to trust – if you have a good reputation people are more likely to do business with you.
7. Remember that you have a valid and unique opinion. Dont be afraid to voice it.
8. Always be respectful of others. It is okay to disagree but be polite about it.
9. If you are young and looking for a job be aware that a party boy or girl image may seem cool to your peers but it wont help you get a job or grow your professional network.
10. Online networking is a vital tool for anyone trying to build a career but dont get sidetracked or sucked in. Avoid this by scheduling time for online networking and sticking to it.
11. Dont make friends with everyone and anyone. Be selective. It will help you manage the volume of information and will also expose you to less risk.
Personal branding is being used more and more to help people highlight their professional attributes and experience, grow and enhance their networks, build business and to find new careers. In our next post on this subject we will look more closely at which social media tools to use and how to use them to do this effectively.