16 Sep Personal Branding – More Important Than Ever
We live in a world where everyone has an opinion, and everyone has a forum in which to share it. You cannot access any part of social media without being smothered by someone’s opinion or advice. The world is saturated with “experts” that are reacting to the environment around them and contribute to the “noise” online.
I’m sure that you can think of at least five people that you follow who fit in that category.
Would you appear on someone else’s list? Are you generating noise, or are you creating something new, unique, or useful?
If you’re the latter, then you are building a personal brand.
Personal branding is about storytelling. It is about showing your audience (friends, coworkers, employer, etc.) what type of person you are and what you can bring to your relationship to make it thrive. Companies develop brands through visuals, content, and design. Individuals can build their brands through similar methods – physical appearance, resumes, and social media.
Building a personal brand can be tricky. There are some people that shamelessly promote themselves using personal branding as their vehicle. Others are masters at the craft and have cultivated their brand while establishing themselves as true experts.
If your livelihood depends on how you are perceived, personal branding is more important than ever. On September 22nd, Mary Lou Coyle of Coyle Studios, Jeff Davis of J. Davis Public Relations, and MaryBeth Hyland of SparkVision spoke at an AMA Baltimore panel on “Building Your Personal Brand.” In preparation for the event, we asked Mary Lou to give a few of her thoughts about personal branding.
Understand that people judge with their eyes first, brains second.
It’s very shallow, but it is true. If you show up to an interview in yoga pants and dirty hair, it is safe to say that you will not be hired. It will be hard for people to take you seriously if your LinkedIn photo is a selfie, a photo of you at a wedding, or a cropped photo from a party. You may think you look amazing (in fact, you probably do), but it doesn’t look professional. Think about how you want to be perceived and find a professional to capture it.
Photos should tell the end of the story.
Forget potential. You want people to see you as you are – not what you could be. Show your audience who you are and what you can do through your images. Post photos of your volunteer work, a recent trip you took, or that really nerdy thing that you love. Getting personal gives people insight into your character.
Develop your own personal brand guidelines.
If you’re in marketing, then you’re familiar with the concept of brand guidelines. Companies use guidelines to keep their marketing consistent. Individuals already do this on an innate level. Think about your closet and what you wear to work. Most people have a signature style. Take this a step further and evaluate your social media output. Create a loose guideline about what you think is appropriate to post and how it aligns with your brand.
Create a strategy.
Once you evaluate your social media output, create a strategy. Professionals in technical fields aren’t the only ones that need to worry about “publish or perish.” Publishing – blog posts, social media posts, freelance articles – are essential to displaying your knowledge.
When in doubt, follow the proper rules of engagement.
There are people who have lost job opportunities because they do not meet the code of ethics or align with company brand guidelines. We’ve all heard about the big brand marketing professionals who have been fired for posting inappropriate comments on personal Twitter accounts. Employees are an extension of the company and CEO. Employers want to make sure they have someone that will improve the business and give a good impression. If you have any doubt over whether something is appropriate to post, don’t share it.