With social media having such an influence now on how both recruiters and companies look for candidates, you really do need to develop your own online ‘brand’ to make a real impact.
Still not convinced? With 91% of recruiters* now using social media to source candidates, you should be revising your own online presence, or for some, actually developing one! And don’t think you only have to consider the more business focussed social media, such as LinkedIn. Most people would expect the majority of recruiters and direct employers to focus on this but the fact is that 76% screen using Facebook, 53% Twitter and only 48% focus on LinkedIn*.
Personal branding is so important, whether you then use this to encourage interest from recruiters and potential employers, consult, freelance or build robust business networks, it's vitally important to both establish and maintain your online brand to stay competitive.
Just having a static presence on the most suitable social media platforms is not going to deliver. An effective online brand is about building your reputation and positively showing what you do and how you do it.
So it’s time to develop or improve ‘brand you’. This should showcase your unique combination of strengths, skills, attributes and goals, and is dependent on creating an engaging ‘story’. If you have multiple areas of specialism, then a well-developed story becomes even more crucial. Here are some vital elements to ensure you make the right impact:
1. What do you want ‘brand you’ to represent?
What do you want your name to be associated with? Is there a certain discipline in which you want to show expertise or general qualities you want linked with you? Try to focus on a very specific niche – definitely don’t try to be all things to all people. This way you'll have more opportunity to demonstrate your experience and knowledge. Also, while your potential audience might be slightly smaller, they will also be much more relevant. Once you decide on how you want to present yourself, you can start to be much more strategic.
2. Review your current online brand
Set-up alerts for your name HOW? – not everyone will know, so you can see your current ‘brand’ exposure and also how it develops over time. If you have a fairly common name then it might be worth considering the use of your middle initial or full middle name to differentiate. Ensure your social media profiles are as robust and complete as possible. Post and share updates regularly (daily, not weekly – this will be an investment in time) and don't be afraid to revamp and re-post your older content to engage with new contacts. Cultivating a strong personal brand is also about being responsive. Lastly, find ways to add value by sharing content that is relevant to ‘brand you’ – every share, like and comment should all be with the aim of promoting you in a positive way.
You could mention in here about the negative impact a bad personal brand can have on your chances of successfully obtaining your next role. TBH a lot of employers are looking for reasons NOT to hire you when searching your profile on social media – don’t let old photos and unsuitable language affect your chances of successfully moving upward in your career.
3. Write and publish your own content
Once you’ve decided on your niche, it's time to start building your reputation for expertise within that. Content marketing is the easiest way as, when people look for information, they tend to rely on trusted sources that were helpful to them before. Your aim is to become one of those sources of information and over time you'll become collectively known as an expert!
4. Associate ‘brand you’ with other relevant brands
Your personal brand can really be strengthened by your connection to others, so find and leverage those which will do just that. Start with companies, colleges and colleagues, for example, which college or university did you attend - are there groups you can join or an alumni newsletter you can contribute to? Also look at other digital assets you can connect and communicate with, such as industry related discussion groups.
5. Be in networking mode 24/7
Always be ready to engage with others, anybody who could be valuable in helping you spread the word about your expertise. Be a regular in community/group discussions whenever you can.
Building ‘brand you’ is not a one off project, it requires regular nurturing. H