Your personal brand and social media

In today’s society everyone has to rely on their personal reputation for career advancement and success, whether you work for yourself or for others.  It’s a competitive marketplace and you need to use every advantage you can get.

Your personal brand encompasses your reputation, your knowledge and your associations; and it’s what most people will judge you by.  In the past it would be only your closest friends and family members who knew your personal story; but the information highway has given the world access to information on anyone, from what you buy at Safeway to where you checked in on Facebook last night.

If you’ve ever hired someone or a business, chances are pretty good that you’ve probably googled them before offering them the position.  I know I have.  And if you’re in the market for a new job, chances are someone is googling you right now.  Do you know what’s online about you?

Investigate

Google yourself and see what’s been written about you online and what information is available.  It could be something as innocent as your account on ancestry.com or your fantasy hockey pool.  Or it could be something that could hinder or harm your personal brand, resulting in loss of personal or professional success.  If so, it’s time to take action and rectify the situation.

  1. Control Google.  That might sound a lot more daunting than it really is.  Google is the search engine of choice for people searching for information and it’s also the most finicky about what it reports.  If you can control what shows up in Google’s search results, Yahoo and Bing will fall in line.  The best way to influence these results is to get active on social media.  The search engines eat up the fresh content that’s posted on blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. **LinkedIn profiles generally rank in the top 5 Google results
  2. Control the camera.   Make sure to use a recent and professional photo of yourself across all your social platforms so there’s a consistency.  Also, ensure that you remove any ‘risqué’ photos from your college days that may be floating around and file those away for personal viewing.
  3. Consistent story.  Make sure that your social media biographies are consistent and professional across all your social platforms.  Nothing raises more flags or looks more unprofessional than a Twitter profile that says you like to race cars and your LinkedIn profile that describes you as a studious professor.
  4. Focus on quality.  There are literally thousands of social media platforms online and you could spend days setting up profiles on all of them.  Determine where your target audience is likely to frequent and focus your efforts there.  Quality over quantity.
  5. Network.  Social media makes it easier than ever to approach everyone in your company and industry regardless of rank.  For example, you can start following someone on their blog and post a few short comments.  After a few exchanges, you can advance things along by connecting on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  6. Keep tabs on yourself.  Anyone who uses social media on a regular basis will create a system to monitor the internet for any mentions of their name, industry and company.  You can utilize Google alerts and any good social media management tool to set up lists and listen to see what people are saying about you.  The more you know, the further you’ll go.
  7. Quality content.  Large companies put a lot of time and effort into the content they publish online and you should too.  Ensure that whatever you post is relevant, professional and has your take on things.  Even if you’re re-posting content, ensure to add something to it so that people know you’re actually reading it and not just hitting a button.
  8. Time’s up!  Remember the first few years of the internet when you’d be online till 3 am?  It’s just as easy to get carried away with social media and spend an entire evening following a hashtag.  Set time limits for yourself to ensure that you don’t get burned out and can still maintain your offline life.

After you get your online reputation under control, keep on top of it by checking it frequently.  By posting positive content regularly to blogs and social media, and disassociating yourself from negative entities, the online representation of your personal brand will serve you well.

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