Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Influencing Your Personal and Professional Brand

Last Friday, I attended BlogPotomac, an 'unconference' in Falls Church, VA attended mostly by PR and Marketing professionals, and which featured a number of expert speakers on the topic of social media, including Shel Holtz and Shashi Bellamokonda among several others. One of the agenda items was a panel discussion regarding Personal Branding. The panel members, Aaron (his post on personal branding) and Amber presented the case that too strong of a personal brand can be counter-productive, and that ultimately you do not define your brand, consumers and community members do.

Although I agreed with Aaron and Amber regarding being confident (not cocky) when it comes to how you present yourself, and in the fact that a personal brand should not overshadow the brand of an institution you represent, I had to disagree with them when it came to the concept of defining your online personal and professional brand.

I believe that you actually have a tremendous amount of influence over your online brand. One way to think about your 'brand' is to Google your name. If you have a LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace or Twitter profile, or maybe your own blog, you will typically find those profiles showing very high on the first page of the search results. Yes, consumers and community members can help to define your brand, but you have a tremendous amount of control over how people find and learn about you online.

Recruiters are increasingly using search engines to find new talent or to learn more about the talent they have found. By ensuring that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and complete, that your Facebook profile is relevant and professional with the appropriate privacy controls applied, by using other social networking tools like Twitter, Plaxo, etc., and even having a Google Profile, you can have a tremendous amount of influence over how your 'brand' is presented online for potential employers to see.

Don't just take my word for it though. Dan Schawbel's Personal Branding Blog is an excellent resource to help you understand how to make social networking and media sites work for you when it comes to influencing your brand and enhancing your job search efforts. A post last week titled Be Your Own Brand Manager addresses this particular issue head on.

Ultimately though, I had to agree with Aaron and Amber that creating your own social networking profiles isn't enough. You need to back these profiles up with substance too. The substance of your reputation, your performance, and your knowledge in particular. So use LinkedIn to solicit recommendations, and to ask & answer questions. Use Twitter to comment and direct traffic to relevant blogs and articles. Write a blog where you can demonstrate your expertise and opinions on a particular subject. Using these sites and tools is a great way to enhance your reputation and others opinions about you. Social media is a contact sport. It's a means to an end. Ultimately, if done well, it can help you define your online 'brand' and enhance your career.

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