Personal Branding On Social Media – The Challenge Of Positioning Yourself

Personal brand and network
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It wasn’t that long ago you could say ‘social media isn’t my thing’ and get away with not having a professional profile online. However, in these contemporary times, (and certainly more so for certain professions) it is expected that you have an engaging professional presence online as an individual.

Recently I happened to be dining with friends, several of whom are passively job hunting. The topic of your professional brand came up; each one of them agreed that it’s relatively easy to find help and advice on setting up and optimising your social profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry related communities. However, the consensus was that they found themselves at a standstill when it came to working out how to pitch themselves without sounding generic, using clichés or sounding like a sales pitch for where they work.

For those of you who have always been active on your professional social media networks this of course isn’t a problem or hard to do, but for most people and particularly those who are not millennials, it can be quite daunting. Most of us struggle with this because there really isn’t one clear approach for developing and curating your personal brand online.

Essentially, you need to find an approach that resonates with you. So as a starting point consider these three areas to focus on when building your personal brand online: positioning, authenticity and engagement.

Positioning

It’s important to think about where and how you are going to position yourself. When you put all your ducks in a row, how do you want to be viewed? What kind of personality do you want to project? If you’re still not sure, think about how your values relate to the professional you. How can you position yourself with those values in mind

Why authenticity?

In my view, authenticity is critical when building your personal brand strategy as authenticity goes hand in hand with trust. If you can build trust with your peers, colleagues and community, you will have a much stronger brand than those who haven’t.

  • Be 100% genuine and truthful about everything that you say, the detail in your profile to the interactions you have with people. If you tweak the truth or aren’t your true self-online, your network and community will soon find out.
  • Be real – you don’t want to come across as a robot by simply posting and never interacting or commenting. Find your own style and tone of voice that is similar to how you would normally speak and hold a conversation. Put yourself out there and show some emotion and opinion in your writing.
  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then don’t post it. No one likes people who hide behind their online profile, so be true to yourself.
  • Once you’re comfortable with writing and posting online, consider sharing some of your personal experiences, even those slip-ups or mistakes as these can be very powerful showing how you’ve dealt with situations, how others can learn from your experiences and how resilient you can be.

Engage with others

This may be an obvious one but in addition to starting discussions, you need to proactively engage with your networks content, posts, and shares. It may take a bit of time and you may need to schedule time into your calendar to do this but it is necessary as simply put, no one likes a one-sided relationship. Seek out those in your professional networks who you resonate with and share their content, give your two cents and praise where deserved. Also remember to have fun – not everything has to be serious, everyone loves a bit of good-natured humour.

You want to make sure people see you as a real person, that the image you put across focuses on what makes you unique and represents your worth, passion and ambitions. By being authentic, engaging with your community and by having the right positioning, your personal online brand will flourish. You will start increasing your networks, receiving recognition for your contributions, expand your knowledge in more areas and be able to showcase your skills to those who matter.

Finally, however you decide to look at it, the digital world and social media is here to stay. So it’s worth putting some time and thought into how you would like to represent yourself in the social sphere. Go on… give it a go!


 

This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.

Have you found Twitter and LinkedIn useful for business?

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I’m intrigued to know how many individuals have found Twitter and LinkedIn useful for business. I asked this question a few months ago on a LinkedIn group that I am a member of. It was interesting to see what responses people had. I asked the question as I wanted to hear more about other people’s personal experiences, so when I help people set up their own accounts I have other examples apart from my own experiences.

From asking the question and looking through similar questions on other LinkedIn groups many people indicated that simply having a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, and engaging in the social communities resulted in enquiries.  I have found the same results personally and professionally.

When I worked for a membership association I was often personally contacted on LinkedIn for more information about the association. In that position I implemented a twitter account which also resulted in people contacting us. Being a membership association, businesses would often seek us out and contact us, but we also found by engaging and interacting in different forums we helped to put our name out there, gain more credibility and show what we were all about.

Recently I found Twitter personally helpful as I was looking for a designer to create me some personal business cards. Being relatively new in London I hadn’t yet met anyone who was quite right or knew enough people to be able to recommend someone, so I turned to Twitter for help. My tweet was quickly followed up by a person who suggested I try @Jilly_Pepper. Interestingly as soon as one person recommended her I realised that we had several Twitter friends in common and ones that I trusted and had engaged with on twitter who could back up the tweet recommendation. The designs she created were great and I am excited to receive my business cards in the next couple of days.

I am still interested to hear about other people’s experiences as it is interesting to see what has worked for different people and businesses – so please do share.

Is it possible to separate your personal life and work life on social networks like LinkedIn?

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Many individuals join professional social networks like LinkedIn for their own professional development rather than as brand ambassadors for their work.

Over the last year I have engaged with many people on social media platforms and have found it hard to separate the two on some networks such as LinkedIn. In my last position for a membership organisation, I often was personally contacted on LinkedIn and Twitter about the organisation. This led me to think about how, if I should or if I even could separate work from play.

Like many people I know I initially joined LinkedIn for my professional development and to keep in touch with contacts who I have met through networking, events and work. At first I wasn’t too sure what I thought of people contacting me directly about my work seeking more information. But it made sense as people like dealing with people who they can put a face and name to. Inevitably if you work in marketing and are doing your job properly you will probably end up becoming a brand ambassador whether you like it or not. If you do not want to be a brand ambassador for your company then perhaps you should rethink what and who you should work for.

With the explosion of social media not only the marketing team and stakeholders need to be brand advocates – all employees need to be as well. Employers also have to take care in making sure all staff will represent their brand in the right light or at the least don’t do the opposite. This does not mean that every employee has to be out there promoting the brand and company through their social networks, but that they should at least know how to respond and act. For example, if an individual asks for information about their workplace via LinkedIn employees should know how to respond and direct them to the right person who can help in their organisation.

Ultimately, my active use of social media over the years for work and play has highlighted how important it is to become a brand ambassador for my work. To me, this can only be done if I am passionate and believe in the organisation I work for. This is now a key factor in my job hunt for my next London marketing role!

I am interested to hear whether you have had the same experience and/or whether you have chosen to keep the two separate?