The use of the word “branding” has grown and evolved over the years. One of the key ways is in regard to personal branding — the practice of marketing ourselves and our careers as a brand. This may seem extreme, but in this world of connectedness we have access to more information about each other than ever. It’s important to BUILD your brand in a way that reflects who you are and what you want others to know about you and then to MONITOR and PROTECT it.
In this post, I am going to cover the best ways to build your personal brand online and then next week I will cover how to monitor and protect it.
DO THE RESEARCH
The first thing I recommend is doing a Google Search for your own name. This may seem like putting the cart before the horse since we haven’t discussed building your online brand, but it’s very likely there is already information out there about you. Understanding what currently exists will help you to determine where you need to start.
Go to www.google.com and enter your name in the search box. I recommend using quotes — ie. “Becky Pearce” — to help filter out results that aren’t relevant. If you have a formal name — ie. “Rebecca Pearce” — search for it as well. Create a spreadsheet and drop in the following information for each of the results:
- What is the URL for the site?
- Is it controlled by you or someone else?
- Is the content positive or negative?
- It is the image you want to portray?
- If it is negative, what is your plan for addressing it? You won’t always be able to change or remove negative content, but it’s always worth a try.
ESTABLISH THE BUILDING BLOCKS
Now that you have an idea of what already exists, start creating a profile of what you WANT people to see and know about you. To get started, create a document and answer the following questions:
- What is your area of expertise? Keep this as simple as possible.
- What descriptive words would you like people to associate with you and the work you do?
- What makes you stand out from others in your field/industry?
- What are your key career accomplishments?
Now use this information to create two documents that will serve as the building blocks for your online brand:
- YOUR RESUME: Your resume should always be kept up to date — whether you’re looking for work or not. You need to be sure it reflects your latest work and accomplishments and portrays the brand you outlined in the previous step.
- YOUR PERSONAL BRANDING STATEMENT: This is a short and sweet, hit-em-hard snapshot of who you are and what you stand for beyond just your work history. Use your answers to the questions above to determine what this should say. It should summarize what you are the best at, who you serve and how you do it uniquely. Keep in mind, this should be a statement of who you ARE, and not who you WANT to be.
These two documents should drive any content you put online about yourself and, as a result, should be updated at least every 3 months.
BUILD YOUR ONLINE BRAND
Now go back to the list of sites you created earlier in the process and update the sites that you control so they match your resume and personal branding statement. This should include social media sites you use (especially LinkedIn), your website, job search websites you have your resume listed on, etc. Also be sure you send your updated resume to any recruiters you’ve interacted with in the past. Most recruiters keep a database of potential candidates and their resumes, so if there have been any major changes, you’ll want to make sure they have the latest and greatest information.
For the sites you don’t control, determine what needs to be done to update that content so it matches as well. It may not be an easy process, but it’s always worth trying to ensure brand consistency.
Questions about any of this? Please leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and come back to visit next week to find out how to continuously monitor and keep your online brand up-to-date.
Becky Pearce is a member of the JohnGSelf + Partners transition coaching team. Ms Pearce specializes in social media consulting. She also leads her own Firm, Pearce Social.