Investing time in building a ‘Personal Brand’ online can seem intimidating but it can lead to some incredible opportunities. Just take a look at Anthony De Rosa or Piper Weiss. De Rosa was a relentless social media news machine through his Twitter feed and Tumblr, in addition to his regular day job as Product Manager and Technologist for Reuters. And when Reuters went looking for a new Social Media Editor, De Rosa became a natural choice from the large followings he’d built up on his personal online profiles. But you don’t have to want a career in social media to realize the payoffs. Piper Weiss took an album of old photos of her mother and turned it into the popular blog: My Mom, the Style Icon, and later into a column for Lucky magazine and a popular gift book. But these are just two of MANY real life stories of how people used the power of the Internet to garner success in their careers.
Every day our recruiters use social networks to search for, connect with and recruit top talent.
If you’re not sure how to build your online brand, we’ll run you through the basics.
BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Creating a personal brand for yourself online should be an extension of who you are in person. It should highlight your personal expertise in your field, as well as make your more visible and accessible to those in your industry and beyond. There are three basic steps to building your personal brand: Find Your Niche, Connect and Share.
Find Your Niche
First to build your brand, you’re going to have to decide what you want it to be. Remember, this is a professional brand so your online presence shouldn’t be dominated by your love of cats. Identify what expertise you have to share about your field and what professional passions you have. Your brand and online voice should be a healthy blend of professional/industry insight and humanized passion. For example, Sheryl Sandberg is both known as the COO of Facebook and as a passionate advocate for women in business. She speaks both about running and monetizing Facebook and social media, as well as encouraging women to ‘Lean In’ and take on the C-Suite.
Digital audiences want to feel that they are connecting with a real person, so sharing the odd personal tweet, Instagram shot or pinning your favourite recipe doesn’t go astray. This shouldn’t be the bulk of your online presence however, consider the 80/20 rule of professional/personal.
Now that you’ve decided what niche area you want to work within, it’s time to connect to the other players in that field! You’ll need to decide what platforms you want to use, whether it be through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, YouTube, and the list goes on..
Whatever tools you decide to leverage, the strategy is pretty much the same as in real-life networking. Identify the key people or groups of people you’d like to be involved with, begin connecting, engaging and sharing with them. Find Twitter thought leaders to follow, Facebook and LinkedIn groups to join, and bloggers who also write about your fields of interest.
Now share! Social media is about joining a conversation, not tooting your own horn. This means, commenting on blogs, discussing topics on twitter feeds, status updates, and sharing any interesting, relevant content. Engage people in conversation, share stories, facts, thoughts, videos, breaking news etc. Consider having your own personal website and blog as another avenue for sharing. A personal site/blog also creates a centralized hub for your brand. For example, Summer Tomato is a wonderful health and nutrition resource created by neuroscience Ph.D Darya Rose.
Building a brand definitely abides by the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” adage. Branding takes time and gaining online traction, especially through blogging and tweeting can take years to achieve sometimes. But persistence and continuing to positively engage in the social community will gradually build your personal professional brand online.
A note on LinkedIn
If all of this still seems intimidating, we urge everyone to at least build a professional LinkedIn page. At the very least, LinkedIn should be like having your professional resume on display. At it’s best it’s an incredible networking tool that can help you connect with a wide selection of professionals in your industry and help you manage your own network. Most HR professionals will look up candidates on LinkedIn, so it really is worth having a profile and connecting every now and again.