Most employees do not think much about building their online presence and their personal brand. That is understandable. Twenty years ago it did not matter that you rarely used the Internet, but it does now.
It is just as important today to build your online presence – your personal brand – whether you are employed or self-employed or growing your business, as it is to be well-informed about your areas of interest and expertise.
Your career as an employee used to advance offline. You applied for posts. You read the trade press. You networked. You called organisations and asked if they needed someone with … (Define your expertise.) All of these things still matter but your online presence is now an important part of your personal brand. There are almost limitless opportunities to building your personal brand online.
The sad thing is that most people, even if they recognise how important their online branding is, do not build their personal brand effectively or consistently. How can this make sense? That online presence they have created is visible 24/7 and worldwide.
Do You Think About Your Online/Personal Brand Regularly?
When you prepare something to be placed online, do you create content with a defined audience, other than yourself, in mind? – Do you build a platform (or a wall) well?
Most people have only vague and general ideas about their audience. They also change their audience regularly by promoting things that interest them at that time. They might be interested in social media today, but will have another interest tomorrow. That means what they write, and for whom they write, is confused and confusing.
When you think about your online presence and your online brand define your audience clearly.
“I want to get a job in the theatre.”
In which part of the theatre is this person looking for a job? Who does he or she want to impress online? Is this person a designer of clothes or of sets? Does this person want to play in the orchestra, work with the musicians, the actors or the people in the wardrobe department? Does the person want to perform on stage?
The answer makes a great deal of difference to the task of moving a career forward.
This person would need to be sure what he or she is seeking in terms of employment before re-writing a LinkedIn profile to emphasise the work the writer has done with theatre productions.
A career in the theatre could be tied to working with a particular director on many different projects or built on a series of engagements with different live theatre producers in the same theatre.
Be clear about the audience you wish to serve and in which niche you want to work.
Here is an example of what not to do.
“I want to work with older women.”
This example is true. Someone said the above to me in a seminar. She had no other information to offer. She believed she had given enough information to draw employers to her. Of course, she had not.
Do older women all congregate together online or offline? They do not.
Are older women all looking for employment is the same places? They are not.
Do all older women have the same level of education? They do not.
Are there enough jobs and job opportunities in this field? There could be.
What sort of older women is the person looking for? It would be far better to define the group with reference to interests or needs than just to think about women in a specific age group.
“I want to work with women who are looking to return to the workforce after bringing up children.”
“I want to work with women who like ballroom dancing.”
When you think of a group of people and consider in which type of organisation you would like to work, “slice” the market several times. You should end up with a better statement about your likely employer.
“I would like to work in a hospital that specialises in the care of people with heart problems. I had a job as a return-to-work co-ordinator in a small hospital a few years ago. I really enjoyed helping people who do not really know how best to find work again, after having a serious illness.”
The above statement makes a lot of sense. This person could start looking for a job right away.
A LinkedIn profile or a blog could be built around the interests, professional needs and ambitions of the group of women nominated above.
How To Make Progress
Ask yourself the following:
- In which field do I want to work?
- Do I know enough about this field to be ready to apply to work in it?
- Do I know the main problems facing people working in this field?
- Do I know something about the solutions to these problems?
- Do I know enough to be able to add value in the field in which I want to work?
- Do I write online (in journals etc) about solutions to the problems this group faces?
- Do I make informative and helpful videos about my interest in this area? (Easier for you if you do not like writing.)
In essence, what you are trying to do is to draw people with similar interests to your own to you. If they do not come, ask yourself if such a group exists? If it exists, is it sufficiently well organised for you to be making career decisions based on your beliefs?
Building your personal brand can begin in earnest only when you have a clear idea of what is important to you and what matters to the people you want to work with, or for.
You must become clear about how you want to use your skills from now on. Your branding statements should do the rest for you.
Part two of this series will show how one person built a strong personal brand using the online world to make the task much easier.