Personal Branding For the Lazy
Do you have a personal brand? If you are not in a flashy field like marketing or sales you’re probably thinking “No, and I’m sick of hashtags!” Fair. But if you’re a regular human with an internet connection and a smart phone, chances are you actually do have a personal brand, whether you like it or not. What’s more, that personal brand is already being used to judge you — I know, life’s crazy that way.
If you’re applying for jobs or even if you’re just trying to get promoted in your current position, everything that you do online matters and can be seen. So, what now? Do you have to get a social media manager to run your campaigns and keep you looking good?
Nah, you just need to do some basic maintenance that will keep that personal brand working for you in the background.
1. Review Everything
Did you like that hotel where you stayed for your business trip? Was that new Thai place as good as you’d hoped? How was that book Bill Gates recommended? You have opinions, I know you do — share them! You don’t need to be a master wordsmith, just be succinct and honest. You probably already have accounts with Yelp, Goodreads, Amazon etc., but maybe you’ve just used them to source ratings instead of sharing your own. Well, here’s your chance to throw your hat in the ring and get heard.
Why? First of all, the more posts that have your name attached, the more likely it is that you’ll get bumped to the top of Google searches and don’t you want to be the first you that pops up when someone Googles your name? What’s more, if you’re at the top of the list when a potential employer is searching, you control the narrative — not some doppelganger you didn’t know you had in Minnesota (true story, I have one).
Besides building up your word presence, reviews can be used as writing samples and fill in the blanks that your resume may be leaving. Employers are searching for more than just experience these days, they want to make sure you’ll fit in with their company culture, that you can think and analyze, that you have a personality — all of which you can easily show just by writing a few sentences about whatever it is you did recently.
2. Use Your Social Media Wisely
If you’re like me, you use your social media for sharing pictures of animals and showing people how good your food looks. That’s totally awesome, keep going. But every once in a while, throw in something impressive in there. If you’ve contributed a blog post somewhere or put together a cool slide deck or even if you’ve just read something extremely interesting and relevant to your industry — share that stuff too! Sure, LinkedIn is a good place to start, but Twitter, Facebook, pretty much anything you use regularly can also work.
A few years ago, I was interviewing for a job when my interviewer asked to add me on Facebook. I was perplexed, because I rarely think of Facebook as a place to get professional, but there you have it! I didn’t end up getting that job and a significant reason might have been that there was basically nothing of substance on my Facebook profile.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to get obsessive and overdo it — everyone can tell when you’re faking. Just be aware and when there is something that you’re proud of, hell even if it’s one of those reviews you’re now cranking out all over the place, post it and get noticed!
3. Rethink Networking
Networking has gotten a bad rep and for a good reason. In this age of authenticity, the idea of sidling up to a higher up and very obviously asking for their business card just makes everyone want to cringe. But, I’m here to tell you, networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word or a dirty deed. In fact, that’s just the wrong kind of networking that you’ve been hearing about.
Here’s an example of actual networking: a few years back, my office got a new employee. In theory, I would have had very little to do with her and in fact, for a few months that was the case. Then one day, she asked our team for help with a random project that was out of scope for me, but I was interested in what she was doing so I volunteered to help. She was grateful and invited me to have lunch. We found out that we had various interests in common and over the course of a year she became something of a mentor — giving me opportunities to flex my newly developing marketing skills and sharing great advice on how to build myself up in that area. We developed a strong professional relationship built on idea exchanges and mutual admiration and support. That relationship directly helped me get my current job (which I love!), propelling me forward in my career!
Nowhere in this example was there forced niceties or affectation — our interest in each other was entirely genuine, as was the desire to help. When you think of networking in this way — a way to connect with others who share the same interests or goals — it becomes authentic and could actually turn out to be enjoyable. This means that “networking” is not going to be something that you pencil into your calendar, it will be spontaneous and real. Depending on your level of extroversion, you may not do this often, but if you do it at all you will definitely feel the benefit.
There you have it, three low-maintenance tips to get your personal brand in gear. I know you’re busy with real life things and personal branding may not always be high on your list of priorities, but you should still keep it running in the background, warmed up and ready to go when you need it.