Your “brand” exists whether you manage it or not. As the cumulative footprint of all of your web activity, your reputation, and your professional history, your professional brand will live on into perpetuity, even if you do nothing to take control.
That means that you must manage it. Fail to do so, and your brand will manage itself! So, how do you want to be presented to the professional world?
First, Google yourself
Yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable. But in order to manage your professional image, you need to have a good overall picture of that image now. Google yourself, and check out the image, web, and social media results. What results pop up on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn? Are there details about your personal life that are better left to the imagination? Log in to each of those accounts and manage the results by hiding specific matters from the public. When in doubt, your default setting should be “private.”
Things to avoid: selfies and group photos at social outings that are alcohol-heavy, goofy insider-jokes, and vacation photos. A public photo or two of you with the family dog are fine – they humanize you and can show potential professional contacts that you’re a genuinely happy person! Just limit and monitor that exposure.
If you can, try to utilize the same or similar professional photos across various website and social media accounts. Make sure that outsiders associate one or two images with your professional persona. It’ll make you memorable and will keep your brand recognizable. Make sure that you also use your name in connection with those images. During a Google search, you want that information to be readily available. If you can, include your name in identifiable URLs on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Consider a logo
A logo – even a simple monogram – is customizable and adds recognition to your name. The human brain is much more inclined to remember symbols, so add a symbol to your brand and consider yourself memorable! Not a graphic designer? That’s okay. Plenty of services and tools are available online to help you out.
Build the brand
If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, it’s time. The site is free, easy to use, and a go-to option for employers and clients alike who are interested in digging a little deeper into your professional credentials.
Next, develop a few articles or blog posts to help demonstrate your expertise. Publishing those articles is as simple as clicking “share” on your LinkedIn profile, so there’s no need to develop a full blog or connect with a larger website presence.
Now it’s time to network. Start by selecting a few folks with web presence in your chosen field, and link up with them on social media platforms. These are the people who can help you to build your web network, so talk to them about your goals and your professional skillset. “Like” the things they share, and ask them to “endorse” you for specific skills. If they’re members of professional groups, join those groups. Remember –these people have similar goals, so your efforts won’t be perceived negatively.
Building a brand is a long-term project, so your work is never done! Make a point of checking in to investigate your web presence and make sure that you’re balancing deliberately published material with editing those published elements (on Facebook and otherwise) that have the potential to hurt you. Keep tabs on both and you’re well on your way to building a successful brand!