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Personal Branding – Why it Matters and How you Can Get There

Personal Branding – Why it Matters and How you Can Get There

Today, personal branding matters more than it ever did not only because of the significant market value it carries with it, but also because of the opportunities it offers. Personal branding done right can open more doors for you than you ever imagined.

The business dictionary defines branding as: “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.”

And for a long time, that’s exactly what branding entailed. However, with the advent of social media, branding has become everybody’s business. Today, we’re all acting as our own ambassadors. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an artist, a social worker, a writer, or even a job seeker, paying attention to and working on your own personal brand can be rewarding in multiple ways.

In the age of social media, it matters to be visible. Whether it is you, or your homegrown business, without visibility it is impossible to gain traction. Personal branding is a method of making yourself visible. Of putting out there your unique, authentic self through the work you do. It is true that the stiff competition might act as a deterrent, but your mode of personal branding should be aligned with your personality and belief – and that is how competition will not really matter in the long run.

Personal branding is nothing but using the forms of social media (which you already use) with the specific purpose of promoting your interests and outlook. If you are doing it for your homegrown business/ initiative you would have a very clear purpose. Similarly, in case you are doing it only for yourself and not a specific initiative, it would be more of your views and ideologies about things you believe in. For example, if your personal branding is for a small organic pickle business, your marketing strategies and ‘posts’ would have to include how and why you believe that these small businesses are important. You could speak about how this generates employment for women from several villages who would otherwise be unemployed. Or how it brings back the focus to local, hand-made produce. It could even be simply about the difference in the taste of something packaged with love rather than in a factory.

How would your personal branding strategy differ if you were doing it just for yourself? And not for any entrepreneurial purposes? Not very different. Except in this case, your personal branding is for “you”. Which means, in this case things like your ideologies, your views, what you associate yourself with, who you associate yourself with – all of this becomes central to your personal branding. In which case, LinkedIn is a great platform for you.

How are we able to distinguish between most famous personalities we may be aware of, without ever having met them? Because of their personal branding. Because we are constantly reading about them. Today though, one doesn’t need a PR person to fix this for them. All you need is a platform, and a voice – both of which you have free access to. Like all opportunities, this is one that gives you a lot of power, and along with it a lot of responsibility. How you choose to use it is up to your discretion.

The 5 Golden Rules for Personal Branding

1. Remember it is not about the product, it is about you

Or rather, not just  about the product. Above, we gave examples of two kinds of personal branding – one for specific initiatives and the second for yourself. However, even if it is the first kind of personal branding you are aiming for, remember what you are marketing should be seen as an extension of you. And that itself becomes the unique selling point (USP) for the service or product you are putting out. Your branding strategy should have a voice, which should be no one else’s but yours. It should speak about what you believe in, and what you don’t believe in. And how these ideologies connect with whatever you are trying to sell. Sounds like a challenge? Well, nothing comes easy!

2. Be responsible

Your constitution entitles you to a number of rights which includes freedom to speech. Being able to use your own, authentic voice which promotes the ideas and ideologies you harbor is a benefit of that right. Being responsible about what you speak and choose to put out is a ground rule for not just personal branding, but any form of social media interaction (and otherwise!). Remember that when you put out or say certain things on interactive platforms, people listen to it and engage with it in a conscious as well as subconscious manner. That is the power of personal branding and social media. In the recent times however, we know of way too many examples where these liberties have been abused. With power comes responsibility – it serves well to always remember this!

3. Social media is everything for you

Personal branding demands a judicious use of any and all resources that are available for free or minimum cost. The most powerful resource at your disposal is social media. Teach yourself as much as you can about all forms of social media, and mark the differences between each. How would your interaction/ voice vary on Facebook from LinkedIn? Understand the kind of audience that uses specific platforms, and mould your strategies accordingly. You can’t ever learn enough about the ever evolving forms of social media. Being in ‘sync’ and ‘updated’ (pun intended!) about how each form of social media works is a huge advantage for personal branding. Find out how stories make a difference to your brand on Instagram, how you can use Facebook live, and what’s new on Twitter. Learning and evolving with the market is a strategy that will always come in handy.

4. Network

Always a big bonus. Reach out and network with others who are doing personal branding. Take note of what works and doesn’t work with these brands. Learn from their mistakes and their success stories. Even short collaborations where there is a match of sensibilities is a fantastic way to go about personal branding. Networking allows you to step beyond narrow frameworks and visions and brings you a far greater reach and exposure. Being active on platforms such as LinkedIn, and creating valuable content is a great way to go about networking. Organizing, or being a part of meetups which discuss the concept and forms of personal branding is also a dependable way for meeting like minded people and making connections.

5. Invest

Wherever there is a need for growth, there needs to be investment. In the case of personal branding, even though you may have a very limited budget, make space for investments. Take up courses on specific marketing strategies that might add to your knowledge pool. Maybe one on understanding the forms and functions of social media better? Here is a great course on Coursera to help you get started with – “Introduction to Personal Branding”. If you have a small team, consider investing in sessions for them on how they can adopt and adapt to the vision for your brand better. Most importantly, invest “time”, into understanding how you envision your brand to grow, and what you see it standing for. Focusing on change helps you keep away the fear of being stagnant. And being stagnant in any business or career – big, or small,  is toxic.

Creating and nurturing a personal brand for yourself can be truly empowering. Besides all the factors we have mentioned above, consistency is also a keyword for personal brand. Your efforts and your vision need to be consistent, which in turn reflects in your strategies. One way of making sure of this is always reminding yourself to keep in mind who your audience is.

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. 

Tom Peters, Fast Company

Have a personal brand and want to share the ups and downs of working on it? We are all ears!

How to Improve your LinkedIn Profile and Impress the World

In the World of Work today, your LinkedIn profile is just as important as (and perhaps, even more than) your resume. Consider this – where else can you potentially reach out to more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories? Your LinkedIn profile is your online business card, your personal marketing pitch and your online record of your career story and achievements. Whether you are in business or are employed, the first and easiest way to create a powerful personal brand for yourself is to have an all-star LinkedIn profile. Do you need more reasons to improve your LinkedIn profile? No, right? So pay attention to these tips and get started on building a kickass LinkedIn profile!

Pay attention to the details

Spend time in crafting out your profile, and pay attention to the details. Add a catchy headline, add an industry name – that way you will show up in all the potential opportunity searches which may be of interest to you. Use active keywords in your summary to help yourself be found in searches. It is also preferable to speak in the first person, while writing about yourself. Spend time in choosing the perfect profile picture, and remember that this is not Facebook. “A photo can go a long way to convey passion, energy, charisma, empathy, and other soft skills that are hard to write about.” [The Muse]. And make sure you customize your default LinkedIn public profile URL to one that has your name i.e. “http://linkedin.com/in/yourfullname”.

Personalize your Profile

“How do you want the world to see you professionally? What kinds of work do you enjoy doing? Why are you on LinkedIn? Those are the questions you should think about when creating your LinkedIn profile, so it’s aligned with your personal brand. While marketing-speak like ‘personal brand’ feels fake to many of us, we’re really just talking about setting the right tone for your profile and positioning yourself for the kinds of opportunities you’re interested in.”  ― Melanie Pinola, Author – LinkedIn In 30 Minutes. LinkedIn features allow you to add rich media like photographs, presentations and videos to your profile. Use these visual tools to enhance your profile. Add photographs of you in action, add relevant presentations and videos. Use these features to your advantage, to create your own personal brand, which sells!

Request Recommendations

Aim for at least one recommendation in a month (depends completely on your work exposure). If you’ve done great work for someone and want to showcase it on your LinkedIn profile, don’t hesitate to reach out and request for a recommendation. While requesting for a recommendation, be specific on what you would like your recommender to focus on, it makes things easier for him/her as well. A specific recommendation is much more useful than a generic one. However, if the recommendation you receive, isn’t the kind you had in mind (if it is far too generic or poorly written, and you don’t think it will serve you any purpose), you can always “hide” it, select Profile > Edit Profile and go to the position with which the recommendation is associated. Click Manage. Uncheck the box next to the recommendation that you want to hide, and click Save Changes.”

Be Active and Stay Engaged

Your efforts shouldn’t end simply after creating a profile. You need to establish your own identity in a world of 400 million (and counting as you read this) users. Create your own microcosm by joining groups and being active in them. Update your status regularly, not about how crazy last night was, but about your work projects and professional ideas. Publish/share/repost your own articles and those of your connections. You should review and refresh your profile at least once a quarter. You are more likely to show up in the LinkedIn updates if you regularly update your status and general profile.

Be Human, Be Generous

This beautiful Zulu proverb says it all: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”- A human is only a human because of other humans. We’re all interconnected! Your Success on LinkedIn is assured and becomes more meaningful when you help others succeed. Don’t hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn – be of help and ASK for help. Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows. The more you give of yourself in anything, the more you get in return – especially when you give with no expectation of return. Too often, we build islands of ourselves cutting ourselves off from people who we can learn from, grow with and share life’s experiences. Do what you can for other people in your LinkedIn network – give recommendations and endorsements, hit like when you see someone post something you liked (it doesn’t cost you money), celebrate successes and milestones with your connections, encourage and go out of your way to help people looking for support. As Seth says – We long to connect, all of us. We long to be noticed, to be cared for, to matter. Generosity is the invisible salve on our wound of loneliness, one that benefits both sides, over and over again.

Note that if you are in the process of editing your profile, spare your connections every little detail of what you update. Turn off your activity broadcast temporarily, so that you can keep editing your profile silently. Once you are satisfied with your profile and will be editing it only occasionally in the future, you can turn on your activity broadcast, so that your connections are notified when there is a significant update on your profile.

In this highly competitive world that we live in, we have to ensure that we stay visible, leave a positive impression on as many people as we interact with and keep growing and improving the quality of our network. LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to do all this at one place but like anything else, LinkedIn is only as useful as you make it! So take the time to improve your LinkedIn profile every chance you get and impress the world!

Bonus Video: Check out these series of videos from Capella University on how to improve your LinkedIn profile in every section. There are some great tips, presented in a concise way, in here that you will thank us for.

Happy Viewing!

Beware: 5 Social Media Mistakes When Job Hunting

Beware: 5 Social Media Mistakes When Job Hunting

Did you know that 92% of recruiters and companies are using social media to search for or vet candidates for jobs? Social Media is a gold mine for recruiters. Online networks are chock-full of precious data, both personal and professional.  And recruiters are digging deep to uncover more about job hunting candidates. (Source: Jobvite 2015 recruiter nation Survey)

Social Media has truly become a powerful tool in the process of recruitment. If you are job hunting (and even if you are not), you should be very careful about what you put out there, because EVERYTHING you ‘update’, ‘post’, ‘tweet’ or ‘Instagram’, is likely to be held for or against you when you are job hunting. Do an online search on yourself first and see what comes up. Do you want potential employers to see this information about you? Is your online presence a credible and reassuring one? Here are the five social media mistakes when job hunting, you definitely should be wary of:

1. Inappropriate Photographs

Curate your online profiles carefully for any inappropriate photographs that would not leave a positive impression for your potential employer. For example, you don’t want overly explicit photographs of the crazy bachelor’s party your friend recently had! Be sure to check the tags as well – a lot of times, you may not have uploaded photographs, but if your friends have tagged you on them, they will still show up on your profile. Tone down on the selfies too.

2. Dissing your old employer or colleagues in public

A strict no-no, and is also extremely unprofessional. Remember that it is a small world and ending things on a bad note can have consequences you didn’t even think of then. Besides, ranting away to glory in a public forum (and God forbid, with spelling and grammatical mistakes galore) reflects very poorly upon you, and your future or potential employer would definitely take a judgement call based on this one factor.

3. Bragging about illegal activity

Remember that you are not in high school anymore, and it is no longer ‘wicked’ to do this stuff. Speaking of ‘stuff’, it is completely unacceptable to put up information regarding your personal habits which are also borderline or completely illegal. No employer would ever let such information pass unnoticed, and with that, you can kiss your dream job goodbye.

4. Very frequent/very few updates

A constant social media presence would definitely bring to your potential employer’s mind “He/she is 24*7 on Facebook, Twitter, even at 12.30 pm on a weekday. Is he/she easily distracted? Will he/she able to focus on his/her work?”, and there goes your chance. Similarly, in today’s world, being completely absent on social media reflects a general lack of interest in current affairs and networking. Strike a balance between too much and too little time and presence on social media.

5. Not controlling/limiting privacy

When the likes of Zuckerberg and Hoffman have created options where we can control what we want to show to the world, and who we want to show it to, why not use it? Since you can’t really filter everything, you may consider restricting your privacy options to only your friends or people you can trust. Here is a great post that tells you exactly how to clean up your online profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. But we would still ask you to cleanse whatever you can (and don’t forget to go back in time to delete/filter inappropriate postings – that trip to Goa/Las Vegas where your friends captured your “zombie” time? Hide for sure!). Because it does make an impression, and will probably have made the first impression before you even make it to the interview!

The presence and reach of social media in our lives – personal and professional, has  become quite overwhelming, and increasingly so in the world of work. Being aware and conscious of how much and what you put out there, and what counts as social media mistakes when job hunting, will always work in your favor, regardless of whether or not you are job hunting actively.

Bonus Infographic: In case you need more motivation to proactively manage your social media presence to succeed in your job hunt, we have the facts and figures here from Jobvite on why Social Media matters:


Five Paths to Personal Growth through Twitter

Five Paths to Personal Growth through Twitter

I don’t run a business. I am not a social media consultant. My day job has nothing to do with Twitter. Nor am I a very social person.

So, why then am I on Twitter?

Reason #1 : EXPLORATION : It all started with the thought that triggers any journey – to do something new, to  add to my experiences and charter a bit of the unknown. There is a veritable trove of treasures in Twitter – so many things to discover and so many people from different parts of the world to meet. Every day, I am amazed with the possibilities uncovered for me.

“Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be…Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.” ~ Erich Fromm

Reason #2 : PASSIONS : Our Passions are the winds that drive our ships forward in the journey – what is your passion ? Whatever it may be – Twitter can enrich you. Reading and leadership development are two of mine and Twitter fans the flames every day. I have found so many fellow readers that I can share and discuss books with, get the best book recommendations through #Fridayreads and connect with some of my favorite authors. You can get to meet the best thought leaders in the industry through Twitter too – participate in leadership discussions, links to the best blogs(I love Achieved Strategies Blog  by Shawn Murphy and the Catalyst blog by Ted Coine – they have now joined hands at Switch and Shift). Access to wisdom that fuels your passion – all in 140 chars.

Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.  ~Terri Guillemets

Reason #3 : INSPIRATION :  Twitter is a living source of wisdom, inspiration and motivation. There are many amazing people, quotes that touch you and thoughts that make you reflect. Just tap on to this huge energy and truly see your life and perspectives change. Through the #JustForToday initiative (started by Gary Loper), I have realized that a few words can give a zap to the day much better than caffeine – so much potential for eureka moments.

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizably wiser than oneself. ~ Marlene Dietrich

Reason #4 : LEARNING :  There is a world of possibilities out there to enrich yourself-perspectives, blogs and commentaries. So much intelligence and so many mentors to choose from – all the people who you would have loved to meet in your real life, you can through Twitter. Create lists and just latch on to the learning channels.

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” ~Doris Lessing

 Reason #5 : ENGAGEMENT : The conversations that you can have in Twitter through CHATS and replies are incredibly stimulating – exercise your brain cells everyday – and the people you meet can take you to places in your mind that you never dreamed of going.  #kaizenblog (now #KaizenBiz), #cxo, #spiritchat  are a few that I attend regularly to learn, engage and grow.

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” –Jimmy Carter

See what I mean ?

P.S : This is my first Blog post and being the emotional person that I am, I can’t end it without thanking Judy Gombita, Gary Loper, Andrew (Red Type) and Vicki Flaugher. They are my Twitter Fairies – If ever you need a warm helping hand to pull you towards your dreams, just tweet these wonderful people.

If you have just got started on Twitter or are looking to power up your Twitter experience, visit Redge’s  post (@Versalytics) for some awesome Twitter resources.