Whether we like it or not, social media has become one of the world’s most powerful tools in business and career settings. Because we all have a profile, we have all become brands – and this means that what we say and do on social media gives the world a strong impression of who we are, what we are capable of, what we do, and how we think, work, and act.
The Power of Personal Branding
Social media presence can be considered the 21st century version of nonverbal communication. Whereas before social media, potential employers, partners, clients, or colleagues noticed what kind of stationery you used for your CV and cover letter or what kind of shoes you wore to an interview, today, these same people use everything you like, share, post, comment on, pin, tweet, or re-tweet to get a handle on who you are as a person and as a professional. There’s no doubt about it – the ubiquity and power of social media can be both a blessing and a curse. If you want to establish yourself as a professional and/or a credible resource in a particular industry, you need to know how to use it, and how NOT to use it. It is critical to remember that every action you take online and in public helps build your personal brand. Here are a few tips on how to build your personal brand by creating and managing your online reputation.
Online Branding Tools and How to Use Them
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Skype, photo sharing sites, YouTube, and other technologies allow us to communicate with others in ways previously unimaginable. And with the ease and availability of mobile devices, we can broadcast when something occurs. Thus, the great benefit of today’s Internet is that anyone can publish information online, anytime, anywhere. By the same token, the great danger of today’s Internet is that anyone can publish information online, anytime, anywhere. So be positive, useful, and worthwhile, make sure that anything you publish could not possibly be considered offensive, unprofessional, distasteful, or illegal! This sounds simple, but it is remarkable how often people get into hot water by sharing, doing, showing, posting or saying something that fits into one of the previous categories. If you have even the slightest doubt about whether what you’re about to post is professional — DON’T POST IT. If you wonder if your grandmother would approve — DON’T POST IT. If you wonder if it could possibly offend a potential employer — DON’T POST IT. In short – don’t take chances. It’s not worth the damage that can be done to your reputation, your career, and your life.
Using Facebook and Twitter for Personal and Professional Goals
Most people know about Facebook. Yet with all the talk about its advantages and disadvantages, there is little talk of how to simply use this remarkable tool in a professional way. One can very effectively use Facebook to establish oneself as a professional, and even an authority in a particular industry. How? Firstly, by acting like a pro. This means publishing useful content in a conversational and professional tone. By being approachable and conversational, yet always remaining professional, you establish yourself as a pro that can be taken seriously. Of course, keep in mind that not all of your Facebook friends will be interested in your professional side, so try not to flood the feed only with professional info. Yet it’s best to play it safe – if you have professional acquaintances on there, stay professional, and if you have personal acquaintances on there too, then limit your personal posts to non-offensive, non-scandalous material. Remember that anyone on there could be a potential client or boss. You may want to consider finding or opening a Facebook Group where like-minded people can come together and trade industry tips. Mixing up these approaches will allow you to build industry credibility and not annoy your friends at the same time. Naturally, it is also a great idea to start a blog for a specific industry interest, and you can update your Facebook and other social media profiles about new additions to the blog. Twitter is also a great way to build one’s personal brand. The fast-paced dynamic of the social channel makes it great for sharing blogs, thoughts, and funny tidbits, while interacting with other users. It is also advisable to create a list of power users that you admire and pay attention to what kind of content they share. Read the news in your field and re-tweet industry articles along with a comment or two of your own insights in order to make it personal. Also, be sure that use appropriate hashtags so that your tweet will be findable for those who are doing Twitter searches. Twitter also has a function called Tweet Chats, in which you can participate with other users. Often they coincide with webinars. Tweet Chats provide a platform to connect with like-minded users around a particular topic. Thus, the more you participate, the more you can earn credibility, particularly on a certain topic or in a given industry.
Using LinkedIn for Professional Networking and Advancement
LinkedIn is, without question, the major tool for personal brand building – in any industry. In addition to the first step, which is creating an updated, positive, and complete personal history page, it is useful to post relevant industry articles, participate in discussions and leave your thoughts on other people’s posts. One highly useful feature is the endorsement and recommendation function. Having recommendations for your previous work and endorsements for specific skills can help those who view your profile understand your talents, experience, and skill set. While it isn’t as fun or visual as the other social media channels, it is a huge resource professionally, so use it to the maximum.
Follow the Golden Rule and Watch Your Online Reputation Flourish
Regardless of which online tools you use to build your online reputation, remember one key point: to be successful, you have to be likeable. No one follows obnoxious people – and if they do, they de-friend them, remove them from their feed, and sometimes even tell others how obnoxious the offenders are. Before you share anything, consider the golden rule of online sharing: “Would I respect someone who does this?” Ensuring that you only share and do what you would want others to share or do means building a positive online reputation.