Personal Branding & Oversharing

It’s not just what you share, but what you don’t

Matt Klein
May 31, 2017 · 4 min read

Personal branding remains an elusive practice with many still atheists of the concept. However, its importance increases every day as we live even more of our lives online.

Personal branding is the act of identifying, positioning and promoting yourself. So, in short, why you? Why should someone pick you for the job based upon what they learn about you online? What’s your unique selling point? Simply, why you over someone else?

Today, personal branding is affecting everything from school acceptances and insurance rates, to dating opportunities and new employment opportunities. With 67% of universities and 69% of employers using Google to screen candidates, and 86% of universities and 70% of employers using social media, your online identity is saying more about you than you think.

There are many misconceptions surrounding personal branding though, one of which is how one actively brands themselves. Many believe it’s all about what you share online. Do you have a complete LinkedIn account? Do you have a personal website? Do you have a professional personal email? Etc.

However, it’s not just about what we share online, but also what we don’t share.

Privacy, security and anonymity are equally critical in this conversation surrounding personal branding.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we live in an over-sharing culture. At mass scale, we let others know what we’re eating, where we’re going out to and when we’re even on the toilet.

We’ve become accustomed to showcasing countless aspects of our lives, whether via photos, thoughts or videos for thousands to inspect. This mindset though has long-term detrimental consequences.

It’s only when we become most comfortable with sharing that we let our guard down and let something slip, ruining prospects.

For example, during this past US presidential race, countless jobs were lost due to employees’ thoughtless explicit oversharing. One CEO even went as far as posting a death threat on Facebook, ultimately forcing himself to step down. Imagine those conversations in the office the next day?

In a similar vein, more people than you think are still being fired after sharing negative work experiences and thoughts about particular coworkers. If you think no one is going to see it online, be mistaken.

And these are just the basics.

We’re now reaching the point where accounts and media we once thought were completely secure are no longer the case.

Just look at the hack of the extramarital affair site, Ashley Madison, which unveiled 25gb worth of user details. Or how about the mass celebrity nude photo scandal? There’s also the stolen financial data of Target and Home Depot customers, and the stolen medical data of Anthem Premera Blue Cross and CareFirst members.

Things we once thought were private and intimate are undeniably now potentially public.

Just because something is apparently hidden behind a password, doesn’t mean it’s not accessible in some form. Nothing is completely secure today.

More so, rarely do we consider how interconnected everything is via our email address. Our banking account is connected to our dating profile, which is connected to our LinkedIn account, which is connected to our food delivery service. When one domino is tipped or compromised, a disastrous picture is painted.

Protecting our online identity is just as important as developing it.

With our current behavior of oversharing layered on top of our current landscape of hacks, breaches and scams, we’re regrettably ill-positioned considering how dependent we are upon our online accounts.

Are you prepared if you email account is breached? Are you aware of what you’re sharing on Facebook outside of your accepted friends? Do you know what five year old Tweet exists which is still tied to your name? Do you have different passwords for each of your accounts?

Let’s not even get into our webcams and who can be watching. In case you missed it, the FBI recommends you cover your camera…

Countless elements of our digital lives are at risk, which if accessed and leaked, can ruin a personal brand in nanoseconds. Again, it’s not just what we put out there, but what we don’t.

Don’t get paranoid and put on the tinfoil hat yet just yet because it’s not too late.

Agencies like PRSNL Branding exist today for these very reasons. Providing creative digital strategy to enhance emerging professional online identities, not only does PRSNL Branding help one strategically present themselves online, but PRSNL also advises individuals on preventing over-sharing with guidance on social media privacy and security.

Emerging professionals have nothing to lose and everything to gain by sitting down to manage their personal brand. PRSNL Branding provides 1–1 Consultancy as well as a DIY Member Access which provides checklists, guides, tools, templates and everything else one needs to build their brand, and most importantly, keep it secure.

We don’t need to be overly suspicious, but we do need to be increasingly aware.

It’s a bit of work, but the outcomes are priceless compared to the potential fallout.

One can build the most impressive creative, professional and strategic persona, only for it to be accidentally ruined by a single Tweet or missent photo. Don’t be the next story whispered around the office. It’s not a good look.

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Matt Klein

Written by

Cultural Researcher & Business Consultant at Sparks & Honey. Fascinated with the relationships between psychology, technology and culture. []

On Advertising

We’re an open community of Executives, Strategists, Designers, Developers and Students alike, skeptically examining communication, technology and culture.

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