You are a brand. What you put out as your persona creates perception from others of what you are to them, or, in other words your "perceived value". We choose friends that way, but more importantly for job seekers, companies seek the best employees by assessing your brand.
There is a real opportunity for us as ‘brands' to create disproportionate value against our competition. If you are young and just starting to realize who you are, here is what it takes to prevail in these finicky times where social networking can be your biggest blessing or your biggest curse.
Much like an organization is judged by its logo, its offices, and other physical manifestations, you are judged by your looks; just as an organization lives by a credo, or a mission you live by your morals and values; and just as an organization strategizes about the company they keep so too must you with the people you surround yourself with, or your "partners."
We may not like the idea that people "judge a book by its cover", but we all do this all the time. And, it is more simple today with social media. If you are out on a weekday wearing a Nike shirt and windbreaker pants it's safe to say what you represent. The sunglasses you're wearing will tell passerby's a lot about what you stand for, just as the watch on your wrist explains your taste. But in today's world, where we spend more time online creating pieces of information about what drives us, people are just as quick to judge you about your words than your appearance.
You are searchable. Yes on Google, but there are other tools that are much more personal these days. Of course owning domains that carry your name is a first step. From your blog, to your Google profile all the way to your Facebook page, consistency is a key to delineating yourself from any other John Smith out there. But it goes way beyond this. Education is the key to knowing what to publish and what not to publish. Today's younger generations are not yet aware this.
Mobile connectivity makes it hard for us not to post anything and everything online. As I've said before the Internet is an egomaniacal place, and we eat it up. "I'm frustrated with this", or "screw that" can help start a social movement. Or depending on how it's framed, it can make you look like an arrogant, pompous asshole. Remember that racial rant you had when you were a teenager on Facebook? It's still there. Remember when you wrote a blog about how awful your former girlfriend was and why females are less superior to men? Yup, still there.
My father, who beyond founding B&R is Clinical Professor & Executive Director for Corporate Reputation Management at Drexel University. In one of his courses he asks his students to analyze themselves as a brand and present themselves to the class, telling the class why they are different and more relevant to employers than others. Students find this very hard. but also really worthwhile. By seeing yourself as a brand, you are being realistic and also setting yourself up for success.
So, given the heavy use of social media by those under 35-years of age, here are 10 questions to think about when branding yourself online:
- If I publish something who will see it, not now, but later?
- Am I going to feel the same way about this in one year's time?
- Have I done a good enough job promoting my expertise, and not just showcasing opinion?
- Do I want to promote myself as much as I think I should or should I pump the breaks?
- Am I consistent with my messaging?
- Have I done a sufficient job searching myself online to know what's being said about me, or what I've said in the past?
- Do I have real value to add to a subject?
- Have I done my research on the topics I discuss?
- What types of photos are public and are they offensive?
- Have I quadruple checked my grammar?
There may be other questions and suggestions others have, and we'd love to hear them. What are some suggestions you have for people who are becoming aware of their personal brand?