Branding is everywhere. Marketers have invaded every aspect of our lives, from the news we read to the social networks we use every day. And for some time now, we’ve been expected to brand ourselves, representing our professional identities in a way that is both polished and marketable.
If all this makes you want to relocate to a desert island, you’re not alone. Facebook, Twitter et al might be used by nearly all of us, but many of us still prefer to keep our work and personal lives separate – a recent report found that only 25% of job seekers are using social media to find jobs, with the majority of us preferring the anonymity of job boards.
The problem is that there is simply no alternative to personal branding today – social media searches are now made by 60% of employers. By ignoring these platforms as a potential career tool, you’ll be missing out on countless opportunities to network and unlock new opportunities.
Fortunately, there are many ways of building a personal brand online. And despite what many career bloggers will tell you, it’s possible to do this without sounding like a puffed-up Apprentice candidate.
Authenticity is fundamental to branding. Being authentic is often far from straightforward. Revealing your every thought online might have worked for Donald Trump, but isn’t recommended for the average employee when it might put off potential contacts or even discredit their company.
Presenting too much of a polished persona online is equally likely to cause problems. Creating a brand/profile which you don’t believe in isn’t just a waste of time, but a major cause of anxiety online.
Balance is clearly key. Not sharing everything is totally fine as long as you are discussing the topics that you are passionate about – this is what engages people, not what you had for dinner!
MAKE LIGHT OF IT
One of the great things about social media is that it has changed the codes of conduct in business in a very short space of time. We are no longer expected to communicate exclusively in formal language. So if you are struggling to find a way to present yourself online, use some (inoffensive) humour in your posts. If that doesn’t come naturally, try make light of an aspect of yourself which other people might find funny – like the vertically-challenged US governor who named his book I’ll Be Short.
An easier example than writing a book: Twitter bios. Look at these examples.
Going in front of a camera might be a bridge too far for most people. But video is emerging as the killer of text-based content online, and a sure-fire way to build a loyal audience.
The good news is that there are no hard-and-fast rules on how this content should be produced. Brief Instagram-ready clips can be produced by anyone with a smartphone and achieve just as much success as a meticulously edited advert. Whether you choose to create a 2-minute video resume or a longer piece on your specialist subject, you will engage far more people than you could through an email or LinkedIn message.