What Does Your Brand Say About You?

Our reputation precedes us…offline and on. Your reputation is your brand. And, whether you want one or not, or realize it or not, you have a brand.

When we hear the names of companies, such as Apple, McDonald’s, Google, or Nike, an image comes to mind, there is an expectation when we purchase or use their product. They have a reputation. They’ve created a brand.

We can do the same for individuals…think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem….they have “branded” themselves. Words such as innovation, technology, power, feminism, come to mind when we hear their names.

You may not have a PR firm marketing you or be on a stage of the same size, but you still have a brand synonymous with your name. Don’t believe it? Take a minute to ask friends, family and colleagues to use one word to describe you.

It is cultivated by how you present yourself and in everything you do and say. In the intentional actions, and those when you think no one is watching. It includes your personal and professional life, and is crafted from your actions on and offline.

Your brand is impacted by, and can impact, who is in your network and what business opportunities you’re provided.

Is the perception others have of you, what you want to be projecting? Is it what you want your brand to be known for?

With the power of technology and social media, people and companies decide before meeting you if they want to work with you. In a survey conducted by Career Builder last year, 52 percent of employers used social media and/or a search engine to research a job candidate (over half looking for reasons to hire, and almost half finding reasons to not hire). For those who think having no online presence is the better option; that same survey showed 35 percent of employers were less likely to interview a candidate that they couldn’t find online. Meaning you start with a loss of 1 in 3 opportunities.

Companies are looking at how you conduct yourself physically in person – and virtually. Are you seen as a thought leader in your industry? Would they be proud to have you associated with THEIR brand?

So how do you go about building your brand online?

First, Google yourself to see what is out there already, and ask those you know and trust to share with you their perceptions of you. (It’s worth researching not only the information you share, but also character and image.)

Set up a Google alert to receive notification anytime your name is mentioned online.

Next, create a social profile (if you don’t have one already). Use a professional looking profile photo. And, be sure to maintain your account(s) on a regular basis. Keep in mind quality over quantity; better to have one well maintained account, than multiple outdated ones. Start with one site, and add others as your comfort level grows.

Post your thoughts, share your work, efforts and passions, promote the work of other’s, and engage in conversations. At a live event? Share resources and key takeaways from the event, presenters and attendees. Important to note: there is no such thing as private when posting online…even if your account is set to private. Post responsibly.

Join groups and conversations. LinkedIn and Facebook both have groups for almost everything you can imagine. Find Twitter chats discussing topics of interest to participate in. All three can be useful sources of information and provide opportunities to connect with others with same/similar interests, in addition to thought leaders.

Read blogs by those in your industry (individuals, companies, and publications)…and leave a comment.

Take it a step further and start blogging yourself. Share your expertise and thoughts (you do not need to be an expert on the topic…simply have a perspective). There are plenty of options out there for building your own blog for no cost…or you can post to sites such as Medium, or take advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing feature to post your blog post on their site.

Own your career. Be a resource and voice in your industry. Play an active role in creating your brand/how you are perceived by others.

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