First Impressions in the Internet Age: A Lesson in Branding Yourself
What do people find when they google your name? Branding yourself can help sway their first impression.
Face it: Potential employers, customers, and other associates have likely searched your name on the internet before they meet you in person. What do they see?
Your LinkedIn and Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts, personal blog, and even your pins on Pinterest are all subject to public scrutiny. The sum of those findings is your brand image, what you put forth to the world to define who you are and what you are about.
The reality is that when you walk into a job interview, client meeting, or other engagement, you are likely being evaluated against the first impression the person made prior to your arrival through an internet search. Shouldn’t you think carefully about your brand and how you want people to perceive you?
To be successful, you need to take steps to build and enhance your brand. Here are four steps to branding yourself.
1) Define your brand
A brand is a story. What is your story? Take the time to sit down and look at where you have been and where you are. Where you want to be? What is your skill set? What experiences do you have? How are you unique? Take all of this information and knowledge and define your brand — tell your story. Be clear, be concise, and be direct. If you can’t define your brand in a sentence or two, you have lost an opportunity.
2. Take stock
What information is “out there?” Start by making a list of all the social media accounts you have, even if you no longer actively use them. Next, Google yourself. What do you find? As G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”
3. Define a strategy
At this point you have a brand and you know what information about your brand is publicly available. Is the information enhancing or hurting your brand? What steps can you take to strengthen your brand? For example, should you adjust your privacy settings on some of your accounts so that personal information and exploits are not available for all to see? Does your LinkedIn page need to be updated? If you don’t take the time to define your strategy, you will not be able to execute it effectively.
4. Take action
Frank Cavallaro wrote, “Strategy is about making choices. Execution is about getting down and dirty so that those choices can produce results.” Don’t stop at creating the strategy — execute. And remember, the internet is not static. What information about you gets added over time? Furthermore, it is important to periodically look at your brand. Is it still representative of where are and where you want to be? If not, take the time to re-brand yourself.
When you take the time to brand yourself, you have the opportunity to define that first impression.
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