Are you just a name or are you a brand? Ask yourself this question and then apply it to your perceived value to a prospective opportunity. Does an employer, investor, client, colleague or any other constituent see you as a memorable piece of the puzzle? Do they want to see someone who is connected and relevant in this market rather than your standard pawn? The answer is yes, of course.
Marketers have understood the value of the brand for ages. Product marketers have successfully trained your mind to ask for a “BAND-AID” rather than an “adhesive bandage” when you scrape your knee. Corporate marketers have successfully trained your mind to “Google” an answer rather than to “search the Internet”. So why shouldn’t this same philosophy be applied to the personal marketer, otherwise known as the opportunity seeker?
Celebrities, moguls and icons have always benefited from their inherent personal branding but we live in a day and age where virtually anyone can. In a market where competition is fierce and experience alone does not catapult you into success, it’s imperative for the opportunity seeker in the digital age to perform a bit of personal PR. Of course you have to be smart, make good decisions and have the right reputation but you can help your credibility, increase your exposure and generally make yourself more competitive by taking some free and/or cheap proactive steps.
Back in the day, your digital personal identity was limited to a nebulous and crude identifier in the form of an email alias, user name, or whatever. Some took it upon themselves to be a bit more descriptive while others chose to remain vague. Some had creepy or shady intentions but this isn’t about them. For the real opportunity seeker, it was difficult to take “clipster714” very seriously and even more difficult to figure out what he/she was about. These days, we have the ability to acquire personal domain names, make our email addresses intuitive, create professional, social or personal web profiles and make ourselves significantly more visible.
Social web tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and most recently, Facebook have allowed users to associate their direct name link with their page. More specifically, a direct URL to “facebook.com/yourname” is now possible. Even Google (who hasn’t been focused on profiles until recently) has climbed on board with their version of profile pages along with many others that I don’t mention here. This ability directly helps your personal brand recognition. Add to that some useful content, some thoughtful insight and perhaps some great recommendations from others, and you have the beginnings of a personal brand. Don’t kid yourself. When someone wants to know something about you, they’re checking every social/professional web destination that you appear on so ALWAYS be mindful of the content that you post. Trust me. Protect your brand because eventually it will be indexed and made public.
At the end of the day, your reputation is one of your greatest assets. Be smart about it. While monitoring and protecting it is imperative, making your name memorable is what sticks in peoples’ minds. Keep your profile positive, current, relevant and clean and you will naturally develop a strong personal brand.