Personal branding isn’t just for Instagram celebs and LinkedIn thought leaders. Whether you’re searching for leads or looking for a new job, having a strong personal brand can be instrumental in helping you to achieve your goals.
Think about it: everything now exists online. Every image you post, status you share and comment you make is broadcast to the whole world. Every online activity, no matter how small, slowly builds up a picture of who you are as a person. This ‘identity’ of sorts extends much further than making friends; often, our online persona is the first version of us that our potential clients, co-workers and employers meet, and so we’d better make a good impression.
Sure, you may have changed your settings to private, stripped your Facebook of drunken photos and ensured that your Instagram is PG-13, but that’s not enough. Personal branding goes deeper than deleting embarrassing tweets and tweaking your LinkedIn profile. It requires strategy, intention and a clear idea of who you want to portray.
Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should make personal branding your personal mission in 2018.
Let’s do a quick experiment: Google yourself right now. What shows up? For instance, when you Google me, a variety of mug shots, personal profiles and expertly-written content (if I do say so myself) appears. What pops up for you? Is it intelligent, engaging articles, or is it a picture of you aged 16 in a local newspaper? Or, more likely, are you lost in a sea of faces and profiles, confined to the seventh page of search results?
So, how much does the whole not-appearing-online actually matter? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot – a recent study by Kredible found that 52% of vendors had lost business because of information customers found, or didn’t find, online. The latter part of that statistic should alarm you, because only in the internet age is no news bad news. Being absent is just as bad as showing up and doing badly, which is all the more reason to take control over what gets published.
Job-seekers and employers also face the same conundrum. Most people, whichever side of the interview table they’re sitting on, will Google the other prior to meeting (or applying). According to one Jobvite survey of recruiters, 95% said they saw an effective personal brand as an “essential differentiator” when it comes to attracting the best talent. For job-seekers, it’s a similar story; SHRM found that 84% of hiring managers use social media in the recruitment process.
Control your own narrative
As the aforementioned statistics suggest, it’s best to get ahead and have some say about what content people come across first. Sure, your Pinterest mood board of cats in human clothing may be your favourite out-of-work activity, but is it the first thing you want people to see of you?
For a real-world example of narrative control, we turn to the godmother of media manipulation: Kris Jenner. Now, love them or loathe them, the Kardashians are experts at knowing exactly when and how to release a story to generate global hysteria. We don’t know anything about them that they wouldn’t want us to know and every story is kept under wraps until it can be revealed on their TV show.
Now, most of us don’t have millions of dollars at our disposal, but we do have the power to put our own content out there and to tell our own stories. Plus, by publishing thought-provoking pieces, you demonstrate your value, expertise and credibility.
Open up to new opportunities
We’ve been floating around in space for long enough to realise that it’s who you know and not what you know, so you better be known for what you do. When your personal brand is on point, you can attract clients, customers and even prospective job roles with little more than your online activity. By becoming synonymous with quality content, you can turn yourself into an industry leader. From here, people will turn to you with their problems and present you with new opportunities – what’s not to love?
Capture corporate culture
According to the same SHRM study as before, 96% of hiring managers use LinkedIn, 53% use Twitter and 66% use Facebook to scope out new recruits. The fact they look at Facebook is particularly telling; these recruiters aren’t just being nosey, they’re trying to gain authentic insight into who you are as a person and not just the way you appear on your resume.
Prospective employees also look at a company’s online presence to determine whether they’d fit into its culture. This is why it’s imperative to have an outwards identity that matches your company; so be proud of who you are and be honest in conveying it, as this will save you time and money in the long run.
Whether you’re looking to expand your business, find a new role or cement yourself in your clients’ minds, perfecting personal branding is essential. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.Ben Hollom
January 15, 2018