Establishing the Brand of YOU

ConvoNation
Adam Schreiber CEO & Managing Partner at ConvoNation, Senior Consultant & Partner at B&R, ConvoNation.com

Posted on October 30th 2011

Establishing the Brand of YOU

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:

  1. If I publish something who will see it, not now, but later?
  2. Am I going to feel the same way about this in one year's time?
  3. Have I done a good enough job promoting my expertise, and not just showcasing opinion?
  4. Do I want to promote myself as much as I think I should or should I pump the breaks?
  5. Am I consistent with my messaging?
  6. 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?
  7. Do I have real value to add to a subject?
  8. Have I done my research on the topics I discuss?
  9. What types of photos are public and are they offensive? 
  10. 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?

ConvoNation

Adam Schreiber

CEO & Managing Partner at ConvoNation, Senior Consultant & Partner at B&R, ConvoNation.com

Adam is the CEO & Managing Partner of ConvoNation.com, and a Senior Consultant & Partner at Brand and Reputation Management. He has extensive experience in digital strategy, reputation management, and communication planning. Adam has previously worked in global communications in both digital technology and healthcare at Hill & Knowlton and Euro RSCG, serving such clients as Hewlett-Packard, Amgen, Deloitte, Yahoo!, and JNJ among others. He is a sought after speaker on topics surrounding reputation implications in social media.
See Full Profile >

Comments

Its also wise to think about the audience - for example connecting your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts might not be appropriate if the kinds of things you post on Twitter are not of interest to (for example) prospective employers or professional contacts. Also, people who have ALL their foursquare checkins posting to social media should think again - occassionally now and then is fine or when you are visiting somewhere interesting, but every single one can be a bit much if you are a regular user!

I could not agree more, Simone. Find your audience and give them what's appropriate to them, not you. 

Yap, social media is not just about telling what you're putting on your sandwich anymore, it's a great opportunity for selling youself as a product. Here's another great article n the subject: http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/build-your-personal-brand/ (No, I did'nt write this, @lisabarone did)

Best

Peter Westlund (@bastlund)

Thanks, Peter. Glad you agree. I'm checking out the article now by Lisa Barone. Seems pretty great! 

Great post Adam. This is a timely topic for today's world. Last year, when I was working with Lethia Owens, Personal Branding & Social Media Strategist, she always uses this quote to sum up the importance of branding ourselves.

"It not enough to be the best at what you do, you must be perceived as the only one who does what you do." ~ Jerry Garcia

I've never forgotten this quote and refer to it often. I believe that in order to create a Personal Brand that will stand out from the rest requires one to peel back the outer layers, strip away the titles, strip away OPO's (Other People's Opinions), and get to the core of WHO they really are. The discovery process is a journey and not one to be rushed. What one find's during this process is the unique person they were designed to be, and being able to package and promote that unique individual, well you will deifnitely stand out from the pack and be perceived as "the only one who does what you do"!

That quote is pheonominal, Christine! I live by a rule, that although it sounds rough is spot on. It's call differentiate or die. We all think we have unique properties that add value to who we are, but unless we convey that in an approriate manner it falls on def ears. I love that you say stip away titles because to me that is one of the biggest issues plaguing people. They think that because they hold a rank they are invincible - that is obviously not true. Thanks so much for sharing this. Awesome insight!

Really good post Adam. I like the 10 questions at the end. These question really help with indentifying what we want to do with our brand and how to start building it.

I am just starting to get into personal branding to leverage it for personal success and this post is excellent in helping me understand and accomplish my goals.

A tool that might help is http://evaluat3.me . It will let you publish how good your peers think you are. It helps validate your personal brand in a nice looking way. A possible detriment though is, your co workers will have to have liked your work!  (but that shouldn't be a detriment right?)

It may be a good tool, but my gut is that you don't need a tool to tell you what your evalutaion is. If you are a commen sense individual you know what should be said and what should not be said. Making people "Like" your posts is like having a brand on Facebook only allow you to interact with them if you "Like" them, when in fact you may only be wanting to tell them that you hate them. My advice is clean yourself up to the best of you ability and then trust the third party tools. 

Really, very much appreciate the kind words. I'm happy I was able to help. If you're getting into this field now you may want to subscribe to our corporate blog http://brandandreputation.com/blog. I think you'll find it really informative. 

This is a  great post. In the world of Internet it is much easier to make a personal or whatever brand. In this case social media helps a lot. I have seen many page owners in facebook gets popularity over night. Google also helping people to create a smart brand by its services.

Absolutely true, and thanks for the kind words! An issue that arises a lot is that people start to attract attention to themselves in a good way. Whether it be from speaking to clients or being at a business networking event. But once they start to make connections outside of their established circle they only then realize the information that could be taken negatively. Awareness needs to start a lot sooner that your first bad exeperience. 

I love this post, I couldn't agree more with you said Adam. A lot of people nowadays do not consider their brands or what they represent. Albeit, if you are in your early twenties, I can see why you could slip up with a few unnecessary posts. However once you cross a certain line, particularly when you are a working professional, you need to pay close attention to how you represent yourself. Its absolutely crucial to know how you can sustain a certain image and avoid negative connotations. Social media, is in my opinion, a sword with two edges, and it must be used wisely...

Absolutely, Omar. I found while planning the blog that most people discuss people who have already crossed the line and have established some sort of reptuation, either online or in the work place. I found little, if any that were help to those on the job search fresh out of college. 

Thanks for the comment!

Hi Adam,

Congrats on a nicely written post on Personal Branding. 

I think you've uncovered a trend that's bound to scale by leaps and bounds.

My only suggestion to people becoming aware of/ wishing to develop their personal brand is actually a question:

Q: Where's the first place a recruiter looks to check out a potential candidate?

A- LinkedIN. 

Invest more time in LinkedIn. Use your Li profile smartly. It has immense potential to build your personal brand.

Very well written post Adam.

You might also enjoy reading my artilce on the subject published in iMedia Connection which outlines the steps one must take to develop a personal brand:

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/29635.asp

Keep up the great work!

Kent

Adam,

Your eloguent brand lesson ala a conversation was perfect to share with my 17 year old son and his buddies. Success! You hit home with them. which spurred discussion on positive and negative impacts of how they currently socially present themselves in-person and online.

Another discussion from your thoughtful questions was on assuming that if it's published it's correct or an even-handed perspective. Teen's are apt to believe any information if it is on a credible site... defining what makes a credible site was another whole exchange.

Probably, most impactful was the hope you've given me that my 17 year old may actually look back reflecting upon insights we his parents have bestowed upon him, as you've cited your father here and just maybe he'll reconsider that we weren't totally clueless afterall. ;) This mom will cling to that hope... Many thanks to you and the other responders for sharing. Cheers, Victoria