Personal Branding: On LinkedIn, Googling others, and why Facebook may cost you a job.

Key takeaways from Howard Kingston’s workshop on personal branding.

I’ve never been much of a workshops type of girl.

All that nonsense about life coaches and master classes by marketing gurus doesn’t really do it for me (I think it’s a waste of money and time — you never know if the speaker is as good as they promise), but today’s workshop on personal branding that ICMA’s Women Network and the EBRD hosted was probably the best workshop I’ve ever attended.

I’m not really sure if workshop is the right word, actually… It was more of an… experience? Interactive lecture? A two-way dialogue? In just over an hour Howard Kingston managed to captivate the audience and spell out the do’s and don’ts of personal branding — and social media use in general — and why it matters in our changing landscape (Even if you are content with your current state of life, mind and career).

And needless to say, Howard Kingston does live up to the hype. His charisma and efforts to not just talk at an audience, but actively engage them in the conversation did not go unnoticed, and I think everyone in the audience went home with a better understanding of what a brand actually is, and what we need to do to better “market” ourselves and portray an image we want to portray.

So without further ado, here are some key takeaways you should probably know about:

1. Everyone googles everyone. Your boss, your colleagues, your interviewers, and even your potential spouse. “You know nothing John Snow” does not apply in real life. No one goes into a meeting without at least an ounce of knowledge about the person they are meeting. 
(And there’s even an app for that, called Charlie. Creepy much..?)

2. Know your strengths. If you don’t know them, ask. Your friends and colleagues will probably be a better judge than your critical self. And after you ask — play on them. A personal brand is nothing more than a careful manipulation of those strengths… and a few masterfully selected keywords for LinkedIn.

Pro tip — read Strength finder 2.0! by Tom Rath.

3. LinkedIn is the ultimate search engine. A search engine for talent. If you look at it from that perspective, you’ll realize why a personal brand is important, and why a headline, summary and an APPROPRIATE photo is crucial if you want to climb the corporate ladder.

4. Content is still king. If you want to be a thought leader, keeping mum is not going to get you far. Repurpose, recycle, reuse. Wrote a boring, albeit important report? Make it interesting by simplifying the language. Add some cool visualizations, graphs, selfies if you must. No one likes academic writing (my thoughts, not Howard’s, but I’m pretty sure you would agree, no?).

And remember — Big Brother sees all. So there’s a 90% chance that your dream job will fall through because of that not-so-sober picture you took at Octoberfest three years ago. Do yourself a favor, take it down.

...Better safe than sorry, as they say.