This is a guest post from Henry Fitzgerald, a Seattle-based social media and technology adviser.
Your boss does it – at work and most likely at home. The owner of the restaurant down the street does it. The owner of your favorite shoe company does it. But, more importantly, are you doing it?
Branding. Your company stresses corporate culture and branding, from every email marketing template to Web design to in-house companywide correspondence. Having a brand maintains consistency, sets others’ expectations and showcases the realm of capabilities of your organization. Although you may be aware of the importance of corporate branding, what you may not know about is the importance of personal branding.
Personal branding can not only make you memorable and build your reputation both online and offline, but it also can help you find and network with those who share your interests, professional or personal. By creating a personal brand, you build a presence that is uniquely you and provides you with a coherent voice online. Offline, you can use the connections you’ve created to learn, grow personally and professionally and become more involved in or better at things you love!
Social media is the natural outlet for branding yourself, however daunting it may seem. Facebook has more than 500 million active users. LinkedIn boasts more than 100 million users. There are more than 11.5 million Twitter accounts registered. With numbers such as these, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. So, how do you stand out from the masses while making valuable social connections? Below are a few tips for creating a memorable and reputable personal brand:
- Discover yourself. Sit down, take out a sheet of paper and a pen and think about what truly matters to you. What are your goals in life? What do you like to do with your free time? What do you want to learn about or become better at? What are your passions? Write all of these down. Then pare your list down to the 10 things that truly matter. Then, trim it down even further to the top three to five ideas or terms that truly sum up what you are about. This may seem difficult, but by finding out what you are truly passionate about, you are able to decide which conversations and communities you truly will not only have success in participating in, but also where you will be most qualified and consistent in contributing to for the long term. How you describe yourself is the first impression people will have of you, so you want to make sure that you are honest, clear and concise.
- Get out there. If you haven’t already, join various social networks. If you already have, redesign them with your personal brand in mind. Choose photos for your profile carefully. Make your profiles unique; do not use the basic provided design templates. Be sure to put a few of your passions in your biography. However, be careful not to label yourself as an ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ in any area. Leave the descriptive words up to others who will respect your authority when you participate. You do not need to label yourself in these ways if you truly are an expert; others will soon discover that for themselves, either from you or your network. Keep your updates professional, but also do not leave out your personality! Put your various social media handles on your business cards and on your resume so that others can see another facet of you beyond your job title. Take part in conversations, make sure your contributions are well thought out and do not be afraid to meet social networking contacts in real life to discuss your industry or common interests. These relationships may not have existed without social media, but they have immeasurable benefits for both you and your company offline.
- Maintain consistency. Keep your target audiences in mind. Do not lose focus of what you are about. Although your interests may change if you change careers, relocate or discover new pastimes, your goals and passions will not. It is perfectly acceptable not to tweet about the same topics all of the time, but be uniform in your tone and presence. Remember that both online and offline, exchange is key. Partake in conversations online regarding topics that are important to you, and always be responsive to those who initiate dialogue with you.
What tips would you add for creating a strong personal brand?
Henry Fitzgerald innovates and advises in social media and technology in Seattle. In his free time, he co-manages the blog http://www.technected.com/, cheers on his home team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and enjoys sailing.