Personal Branding in the Age of the Internet
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things different.” – Warren Buffet
The internet has made the social and business world grow larger than ever. Information can reach hundreds of thousands of ears in seconds rather than a few hundred ears over a few days. This is both a positively powerful but scary concept for businesses and individuals looking to manage their reputation.
An online personal brand is a way to manage one’s reputation. Forming a personal brand can be approached in various ways, and it takes plenty of work to maintain. But, there are things you can do quickly to get an idea of where to start. Take a look at some actions you can take now, tomorrow and in the future to form and maintain your personal brand.
Google yourself: Many employers Google job applicants to get an idea of what lies beyond their CV. This is also true of any potential client searching for a service you offer. People want to know you’ll be the ambassador of their brand and this is best demonstrated when you are the ambassador of your own.
Talk with your friends and family: For those of us in the marketing industry, it is likely that a personal Google search is something we do on regular basis. The problem isn’t always what we post; it is sometimes what other people post. Sit down with your friends and family and request that they ask your permission before posting pictures or content that includes you. This preventative measure may save the headache of reputation damage.
Purge your social media: If your Google search led to some unfavorable results, a good place to start is by purging your social media. After a number of years on social media this can be a long process. You may consider a change in privacy settings or deleting the accounts completely but absence may make it appear as though you are hiding. A lack of social media is ignoring a huge avenue that can be leveraged to shape your personal brand.
STOP. Before you post that status update on Facebook or Twitter. Would you want your mother or boss to see that post? Data breaches and hacks, a prevalent phenomenon in the last couple of years, have made it clear that what seems private isn’t always. Anything uploaded online remains there for long time, waiting to be accessed by anyone motivated to look hard enough.
WAIT. In the age of the internet, the above rule doesn’t just apply to your public posts online. Almost everyday you can find examples in the media about pictures, messages and posts that have gone viral. Assume every email or “private” message you are sending could be released publically. If the contents can damage your credibility or reputation it doesn’t belong in someone else’s inbox.
THINK about who you are and who you want to be. Your online personal brand should reflect this. LinkedIn is a great way to build your personal brand. A snappy headline that highlights your skills paired with a professional head shot provides creates a persona that makes an inpactful first impression.
For the Future
Buy your domain name: A personal website is a great way to control the results of a Google search of your name. From design to content a personal website can capture who you are professionally and personally.
Connect with others online: Endorsements and recommendations from friends and colleagues through social media add credibility to your personal brand. The added bonus is the gift of adding credibility to theirs.
Be yourself consistently: The internet is a part of one’s personal brand. Present an honest version of yourself online that you can always deliver in person.
If you have a common name and there are multiple people that come up in the search results, consider using your middle name or middle initial to help differentiate yourself.
If you are unlucky enough to have a person with the same last name as yourself and the internet serves up what looks like unwanted results, the best defense is a strong offense. Create a blog (like this one), create content, pictures, sketches and this will push old content downwards and make the fresh and new content rise to the top.
If this seems confusing, and is a lot of work and you need help, please reach out. We would be glad to help you on personal branding on the internet.
Jim Beretta, spelled just like the gun.
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Key words for this post:
Personal Branding, Personal Branding on Google, Personal Branding on the web