Your Online Presence: You as a Brand

Social MediaRecently I reread an article by Tom Peter that appeared in Fast Company magazine in 2007. The article’s title is “The Brand Called You”. You remember Tom Peters don’t you? He wrote the big business books of the 1980s and early 1990s. Books like “In Search of Excellence” (co-written with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.), “A Passion for Excellence”, “Thriving on Chaos”, and “Liberation Management”.

His article had me reflecting back more than a decade to online marketing guru Seth Godin and his associates at Fast Company magazine. They are the first persons who floated the notion of “the brand of you.” The real premise of “the brand of you” was a theory that to get ahead in the Internet era we should look at ourselves as “a brand.” And as “a brand” we need to market ourselves in a way that shows the image we want others to see. In today’s connected age with Internet social networking like Facebook, WordPress, Blogspot, Multiply, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others you should pay attention to what Godin was sharing.

Hopefully you realize your online identity is the first thing prospective employers see. Failure on your part to build your brand, massage the image you are crafting, and keep up your brand focus can do harm to our “brands” and lose us potential jobs or contracts.

For “the brand of you” you should behave consistently. What I mean here is everything from your voice mail message to your blog to your tweets must have a consistent tone. You can’t be wild and crazy in one place and dead serious in another. If you are doing a blog on political commentary from a liberal point of view you should stay on task. If you are doing a weblog on writing and publishing it should be limited to those themes. If you are doing a blog on military history books reviews you should not have commentary on your life or a review of your favorite restaurant show up in the blog. You get the idea.

Another problem is not keeping your blog or website current. It you commit to a blog, you need to have regular input and updates. The opposite is also true. Do not over do it. While regular entries are critical, too frequent entries cries out that you are spending too much time blogging.

Remember before you promote yourself as a brand online you need to answer three questions. In the immortal words of the rock band The Who has yourself, “who are you?” Next think about and answer the question “what is it you want?” The third question to answer is “what it is you have to sell?” Is it goods (a product) or services? Go through that exercise first.

Almost all major companies include an online search for your name as part of their hiring and screening process. Many companies also do online searches for your name when you are being considered for a promotion. Be careful who you allow to be your online friend. Some businesses have employees send friend requests where they can get access to you personal things like blogs and pictures. You think you are safe because you have limited access to contacts, but then you let a potential employer have access without even realizing what you have allowed. The “Seattle Post Intelligencer” ran an article warning about companies peeking into Facebook to screen potential employees way back in 2006. You can read it by clicking HERE.

Finally, I suggest you do a simple Google search of yourself and see what you find. Why not spend a few hours to clean up and enhance your online presence?

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