Jan ’17

Positive branding is an important part of the modern day business. Companies want their brand to be associated with great value and quality, and the companies that go out of the way to brand themselves successfully tend to be more successful in both the short and long term.

But branding isn’t limited to companies. Personal branding is a new way that individuals market themselves online, and those that engage in personal branding successfully tend to have an easier time finding employment, managing business relationships, and grow within their industry.

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the marketing of yourself as a business professional. Most personal branding takes place online, where an individual manages an online presence (usually on social media) that creates a positive impression on anyone that comes across their name.

This personal brand is created through what you post and everything linked to your name. For example:

  • Interesting tweets.
  • Presence on industry related social media.
  • Blog posts or comments in your name, etc.

There are many different ways to create an online presence, and that online presence will help make up your personal brand. The more you tailor the information you have available in a way that attracts employers, the more hiring managers will jump at hiring you.

Why a Personal Brand is So Important

Your own personal brand is not unlike a corporate brand. When someone wants to buy a product or use a service, they search for information. Before you use a pest control company, for example, you may check out reviews on Angie’s list or Yelp. Or if you come across a great shirt you like from a brand on Instagram, you may be more likely to go to the store because you like their styles. The internet changes how people see most companies.

It does the same thing for people. Employers are now more likely to search for applicants online to see what they share and who they are as a person. Industry leaders are more likely to come across your posts and your information than ever before. Your online presence – and thus your personal brand – now has the potential to impact a wide range of people, helping you with:

  • Getting Interviews – If a hiring manager searches for you and sees your professional social media and interesting posts, they’re going to be impressed by your knowledge and commitment and be more likely to call you in for an interview.
  • Establishing Rapport – Someone that is able to show that they genuinely know the industry and that they are able to contribute to its knowledge is going to establish a great deal of rapport (and a great first impression) with the hiring manager.
  • Moving Your Career Forward – It doesn’t end with employment either. Individuals that maintain a great personal brand are going to be desirable even after employment. They may even be more likely to grow within their own company, when the company knows that they are a person that they cannot afford to lose.

Indeed, growing your personal brand can even help you in your private life as well, because the information you control online will make great impressions with everyone that comes across it, personal or professional. Like branding, even those that have come across your posts by accident and don’t remember them will also get positive feelings when they see your name on paper, improving your employment chances.

How to Create a Great Personal Brand

Of course, creating a personal brand is not as simple as just throwing a few professional posts online right before an interview. Personal branding is something you develop and maintain. You do this by:

  • Being Authentic – No matter what, you still have to be you. You should be representing yourself and your professional beliefs, and showcasing your unique personality. The more “real” you are (provided it is professional, of course) the more you’ll impress employers in person because they’ll start to see you in context, and be impressed by who you are.
  • Being Professional – Of course, you’ll also want to be professional. You’ll want to post professional information on LinkedIn, clean up your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and keep things industry specific. Basically you will want to think like an employer, and see what they would be happy to read.
  • Being Consistent – You’ll also want to be consistent, both across profiles and with what the social media profiles represent. LinkedIn should always be 100% professional. Facebook can be more personal (although still professional). Twitter should have more thoughts and shares of interesting information. The more you manage a complete and consistent presence, the better your personal brand will be.

These are just a few of the steps that you’ll need to take in order to develop a personal brand that is really impactful, but if you take those steps you’ll create a digital footprint that will attract employers and maintain positive impressions.

Why Social Media is Great for Personal Branding

There are a lot of ways you can potentially brand yourself online, but social media is the best strategy for the modern day worker. Social media is:

  • Fast – It’s ready for you to use right now, and a great choice for those that want to immediately make an impact. Most social media sites you are likely using already, and even if you’re not it takes only a few moments to sign up and get started.
  • Free – With very few exceptions, social media is also free. Money can be tight, and a free methods of branding are always to your advantage.
  • Far Reaching – Social media is often the first place people will look when searching for your name, it shows up first in Google, and it is accessible by employers almost everywhere.

Social media also has its own brand: People expect social media accounts to be accurate reflections of an individual, and so employers will naturally trust great social media profiles in a way that will help you brand yourself in the eyes of the hiring managers.

Social media is also easier to manage than other forms of branding, and gives you more freedom to represent yourself with an authentic voice.

How to Personal Brand With Social Media

Getting started with personal branding on social media is easy. Here at the Social Index, we know that sometimes it can seem like transforming your online personality is difficult, but often that’s simply because of habit. There are always opportunities to grow yourself professionally online, and once you get started it’s often very easy to continue.

While there are a lot of tips and strategies for effective management, there are ways to get started right now and create a brand that will woo employers.

  • Step 1: Create Clean and Complete Profiles

The first step is to start creating these profiles and filling them out with relevant, professional information. If you already have active social media accounts, consider cleaning up the profiles, removing any information that you do not want employers to see, and add information that will make you a more desirable candidate.

You don’t necessarily need to delete everything or go into panic mode trying to hide all of your indiscretions. But a clean profile with the “bad” stuff removed and the “good” stuff highlighted will make your social media account pop.

  • Step 2: Creating An Action Plan

You’ll also want to make sure that you’re active on each and every one of these accounts. You don’t want to just create an account and let it sit there inactive, since to an employer that’s often the same as having no profile at all.

So create an action plan – think about what you’d want to see if you were a hiring manager, and how you’re going to keep posts active. Websites like www.hootsuite.com can help, since you can set up posts to run on their own over the course of the day, but you’ll also want to schedule time in to check them, make sure you have access to them at multiple times of day (don’t forget you can download smartphone apps) and plan ideas for yourself on what you can post about and what you’re going to add.

  • Step 3: Keeping it Going

Once you get started, you’ll want to keep it going. Even after you’ve found a job, keeping these active can help you with employment opportunities in the future. Consider your social media account a part of your work life. As long as you keep it active, the more likely you will be to remain successful and to continue to carry that success for years to come.

Remember that your social media presence is you. That’s one of the reasons it needs to be authentic. You’re not being asked to be someone you’re not, and of course it would be very hard for you to keep up a charade if you were acting like someone different. All you need to do is look at your posts and information from the eyes of an employer.

Would an employer want to see you complaining about work? Probably not. Would an employer want to see a post about how much you hate your job? Probably not. But would an employer care if you posted a photo of yourself after a long hike that you’re proud enough to show your friends? Sure! Provided it is on Facebook, and not a professional network like LinkedIn, of course.

The goal isn’t to be someone else. The goal is to simply keep your professional growth in mind, because when you actively and successfully manage your social media, you create an online presence that will give you a great personal brand.

Making Your Online Life Work For You

You already spend a lot of time online. By creating and managing a personal brand, you make that time you spend online more advantageous. Great online presences can help you both professionally and personally.

It is simply a matter of personal branding. When you bring value to the internet, in the form of a great social media presence, that value is then associated with your name. People will see you with that brand. Hiring managers will be more likely to hire you, employers will be more hesitant to let you go, and even those you meet in life will find information about you that will help them develop a positive relationship with you and your name.

Your personal branding efforts will never go unrewarded, and the more dedication you give to your personal brand, the more your long term job prospects will improve. If you’re interested in learning more about personal branding and a positive online presence, access your reports from The Social Index today.