Let’s steer clear of resume chat for this round of conversation. Nearly ever time the topic of personal branding comes up it is normally from a place of positioning to move out of one place and into another. While those hiring are drowning in resumes, having a strong brand is important to stand out. However, personal branding is much more than just serenading new paychecks.
While it may sound awkward, I want you to Google yourself. Add ego-surfing to your buzzword flashcards. What do you find? Oh! Don’t forget to look and see what comes up for images too. You may or may not be surprised what you find.
Tackling Personal Branding
Step one: don’t panic.
Step two: Personal Branding is for You. Whether you are happy at your current job or not, flush the myth that personal branding is only for job seekers and politicians.You can build a brand anywhere and anytime. I know some amazing engineers that have a legendary personal brands beyond their 9-5 job.
“Gone are the days where you’re either an employee or an entrepreneur. We now have a culture that supports being a mixture of both” – Christina Smith, Your Membership.com
Step 3: No excuses. I get it, it’s easy to ignore home improvement projects. Heck, I am still working on cleaning up from last winter’s savage rampage on my trees. If you have let your personal brand get a little dusty and rusty it is worth the effort to shape it up.
“If we don’t carve the time to learn about the things we want to learn, we will never do them.” – Frances Advincula, Femgineer.com
Step 4: Choose You. This may just be one your most challenging efforts thus far – pick out your photo. If it’s been 5+ years since your last “me” photo, it’s time to update it. Skip the professional headshot taken at work, the glamour shot you did with your buddies and any photos you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of the newspaper. Go for natural, smiling and personality filled photos.
“Realtors are notorious for using crummy, outdated photos. I rejected a realtor once because her photo was so… fake. She had done some good branding work, but when I met her in person I was literally taken aback. She was at least 25 years older than she appeared in her photo. I didn’t discriminate because she’s old, I rejected her because she wasn’t honest with me. She purposely — knowingly — misrepresented herself. And for me, that’s a deal breaker.” – John Furgurson, Brandinsightblog.com
Step 5: Sales is not a dirty word. I have come to understand that sales is a very broad term that for many years left a icky taste in my mouth. Today, it describes the process in which someone goes from a place of unknown or little information to a place of “OK, I can work with this.” The idea “I’m sold” can apply to you too. Sell yourself how you want your story told or someone else will.
“From landing a promotion at work to convincing your Wife to go see the new action film in theaters, we’re always trying to convince other people that we’re capable, smart or any other number of factors. Personal branding is just an extension of this basic concept – it’s how we market our skills to others.” – Bill Faeth, Inboundmarketingagents.com
- Personal branding is for everyone, not just for job seekers.
- Sell who you are.
- Personal branding is an on going effort, don’t let old stale photos or information represent you.
To Make it Easy: Your Mini Personal Branding Checklist
1) Facebook: Whether your Facebook profile is public or locked with with privacy settings, Facebook has made it fairly easy to see what non-friends can see. Are you projecting the kind of persona you want? Go to Facebook > Account Settings (upper right hand corner dropdown) > Subscribers > Click the link “Want to know what subscribers can see? View your public timeline.”
2) Linkedin: Don’t judge this site on its resume cover feel. Linkedin has a lot of value to offer, it’s worth taking a look at. If you haven’t already, create an account and review your information at least every three months.
3) Personalized domain: If you are still trying to rock the AOL.com email address, consider this your intervention. At the VERY least get a Gmail account. If you are feeling fancy, pick out a web address and setup your own custom email address like mine: [email protected]
4) Personal and/or business cards: While the digital age is pretty fancy, getting a tangible card is still the way to go. You can get slick cards from places like Moo.com, Overnightprints and even free cards from Vistaprint.
5) Shake hands: In Seattle you could easily go to two networking events a day. I recommend at least two a month. Check out sites like Meetup, Eventbrite and Plancast to find events in your area. Shake hands, pass out your cards and share a few dozen conversations. Steer clear of the liquid courage and save those drinks for other events with less prime photo opportunities. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet.