Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Tipping Point, while explaining how social epidemics happen says, “When people are overwhelmed with information and develop immunity to traditional forms of communication, they turn instead for advice and information to the people in their lives whom they respect, admire, and trust. The cure for immunity is finding Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen.”
If I were to interpret this to our modern day online community world, what a Maven, a Connector and Salesmen will have in common is a personal digital brand that defines them, their interests and their beliefs which will make others trust them, follow them or simply connect with them.
Your brand is all about you. It tells the world about your uniqueness and what makes you compelling. It’s beyond the company you work for and your role in it.
Most of us understand it well but still don’t put the effort to build it. I am not a marketer, why do I need to have an online brand? I am an entrepreneur and more than me, it’s my product that people need to know about. Or I am a marketer but I would rather promote my employer brand and my campaigns to get more awareness.
The above thinking is not completely wrong but if you want your work to stand out from the noise, if you want your stakeholders to believe in what you do and represent, they have to first believe in you and trust you. Think how many times you turn to people with a strong brand who have built up a trusted online community in an area that interests you. Once you trust the person’s brand, it’s easy to be influenced by what they are selling. This is the power of a personal digital brand that defines oneself and collectively grows a community that leads to innovation and success.
Among many, here are a few reasons that make having an online brand indispensable-
1. Career growth and opportunities – 92% companies use social media to recruit out of which 95% will recruit via LinkedIn. Everyone is embracing a digital work style and companies are looking for candidates with strong personal online brand equity and visibility. 3 of 4 recruiters and hiring managers check the candidates social profiles even if they are not provided by the candidate.As compared to another candidate who has equal credentials as you do, but one is active on social media platforms conveying his/her brand and the other is not, who do you think the employer will choose?
2. To learn, connect and share the same platform with leaders in your industry and drive your passion
3. To be a specialist or a thought leader in a given field.
4. To stay connected and build trust with your stakeholders. For salespeople, it might be simply their potential customers, for brand advocates it might be to influence purchasing decisions.
It appears to be a difficult one to crack but in reality it’s a gradual process because how tough can it be to paint a picture about yourself. Here are six simple tips to get you started –
1. Think about 3-4 words that describe you, your interests and what you want to be known for. It may change as you grow in your professional life, but at any given time, those words need to be consistent across all platforms. It will serve as your social media elevator pitch.
2. Choose your platforms qualitatively and quantitatively. There are innumerable platforms to build your brand on. Start with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. A recent study in Forbesshows that LinkedIn might be the only personal branding resource that you need. It’s more than an online resume which allows you to follow the latest industry developments, what the professionals and recruiters are saying and gives you the opportunity to engage with them instantly. Twitter is a classic example of digital agility and here’s where you can listen and engage with people who inspire you and align it with your interests.
I would also strongly recommend to look beyond social media channels and contribute to communities and specialist media. Example for developers – GitHub and for designers – Dribble is a good platform to be engaged on.
3. Don’t just open it, complete it as well. A lot of people have a tendency to open an account but they never invest the time to complete their profiles. 5% of LinkedIn users have an incomplete profile. And do you think that’s going to help in anyway? Be active on it.
4. The world wants to hear from you. Post content that is aligned to your brand on regular basis. If you blog and create your own content then have a good mix of shared and owned content. Always share content from credible sources and don’t just copy paste links but add your opinion as well! Your perspective matters and differentiates you.
5. Embrace the Sharing Economy. Social media is a two way street. Share content and posts by people you admire and follow. I picked up this habit from my mentor who has built up an engaging network of like-minded professionals who critic, feedback and spread her work. They also turn to her for advice and trust her opinion. This has helped to grow her brand as a Keynote speaker.
6. Be authentic. Digital is shrinking the world everyday where authentic and real thoughts are always appreciated. Let your passion speak. Be empathetic and a responsible social media user.
Give back to the community and learn from it by building a remarkable brand online. Remember it’s easy to be lost in the social media noise, but it will take your strong personal brand to be heard, followed and trusted.