Actionable advice on how to communicate your personal brand online, including 3 KEY PRINCIPLES of personal branding, plus instructions for how to UPDATE, PARTICIPATE and MONITOR your personal brand online.
- References & Links
SUMMARY: Communicating Your Personal Brand ONLINE
Personal Branding = Proactively Managing Your Identity
- Personal branding is reputation management or impression management. Ideally your personal brand transcends both personal and professional contexts.
- Managing your personal brand encompasses two main tasks:
- identifying – articulating your unique personal brand
- communicating – both online and offline, both explicitly and implicitly
- Managing your personal brand is similar to managing your credit score:
- Whether or not you proactively manage your credit score (your personal brand), you have one. Just as institutions can access your credit score, individuals are aware of your personal brand.
- The implications are significant. A poor credit rating (negative personal brand) diminishes opportunities. A healthy credit rating (ideal personal brand) opens doors.
Preliminary Ideas to Develop your Unique Personal Brand
Start with a blank sheet of paper. Answer these prompts, then transcribe your thoughts into a digital document that you will keep updated.
- How do you want others to think about you? How does this compare to what others currently think about you? Highlight job titles, personality traits, adjectives…
- Consider your past: Think back to when you were 7-8 years old. What made you unique back then? Has that changed? What failures did you learn from? Do you have a “transformation story”? What are some of your most impressive past accomplishments?
- Your current status: What do others think about you? What is your current identity? Role? What are you currently focused on that excites you?
- Your future: What is your dream? What do you want your legacy to be?
- What makes you unique compared to others in various contexts? Compared to your graduating class? Compared to your peers at work? Compared to your friends?
- Start a list of keywords: the words or phrases that become a core part of your identity, including your roles, your unique personality traits, or your areas of expertise.
3 Key Principles of Personal Branding
- When communicating, be generous/gracious. Not salesy! Take a tip from product brands you admire. Are they always in sales-mode?
- Keep it clear and consistent. Just like product brands can’t be “all things to all people,” neither can you. What’s your one key message? Are you recognizable across media
- Keep it updated. Just as product brands evolve over time, so too do people. Yes that photo of me when I was 25 yrs old is lovely. But if I don’t keep my photos (and other information) updated, I might shock people when they meet me on Zoom or IRL.
(image: Unsplash @ tma, Tianyi Ma)
Communicating your Personal Brand Online – 3 Tasks: UPDATE, PARTICIPATE, MONITOR
– Check corporate and personal websites
– update your bio, contact details, photo, etc.
2. Social Media
– At a minimum, focus on your headline (title, short blurb) headshot, & banner image
– Regardless of how active you are on social media!
3. Your Email Signature
– Include relevant contact information. How do you want people to contact you?
– Consider this as your interactive business card. Update it with links to things you’re proud of.
4. Your Contact file
– Keep your contact file in your address book complete (social media, title, headshot, etc), then ping or text it to people when they ask you for your contact info
– Bonus: Update your voicemail greeting!
· Focus on the 3 key principles of personal branding – be generous, be consistent, keep it updated.
· Consider various media or venues: to help establish your personal brand
- Get out there on SOCIAL MEDIA!
- Make a statement in Targeted FORUMS (or CHATROOMS or GROUPS)
- Consider the impression you make in VIRTUAL MEETINGS
- Attend online CONFERENCES
- Google Search Yourself
- Other people are Googling you, so you know what they see.
- Clear your browsing history/cache, so you see what others see.
- Go through everything on the first page, and do what you can to encourage, update or delete each entry.
- Set up ALERTS
- Enable your browser to send you an alert when someone searches you or posts something about you.
REFERENCES & LINKS
- “How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile” podcast episode – https://talkabouttalk.com/62-optimize-linkedin/
- Updating your email signature – https://talkabouttalk.com/email-communication-blog/
- Talk About Talk “Communication Skills” FB group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2512948625658629/
- Forums– Quora, Reddit, Game Spot, Stack Overflow
- Andrea’s LinkedIn papers – https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawojnicki/detail/recent-activity/ (click “articles”)
Talk About Talk & Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
- Website – https://talkabouttalk.com
- Podcast – https://talkabouttalk.com/podcasts
- Email – [email protected]
- Free Weekly “Communication Skills Coaching” Newsletter – https://talkabouttalk.com/blog/#newsletter-signup
TRANSCRIPT – Communicating Your Personal Brand Online
Hey there – I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!) Welcome to Talk About Talk.
I founded Talk About Talk to help ambitious managers catapult their careers by improving their communication skills. If you’re a life-long learner, or if you’re trying to get noticed and advance your career, or perhaps both, then you’re in the right place.
So at Talk About Talk, we focus on communication-skills-topics like networking, storytelling and communicating with confidence – And you can access Talk About Talk across a variety of media or resources. You can choose what works for you – there’s online corporate training, 1-on-1 coaching with me, online courses, the free weekly communication-skills newsletter, and, of course, this bi-weekly podcast.
One of the topics that I’m really excited to focus on over the next few months is PERSONAL BRANDING. Simply put, personal branding is reputation management or impression management. It’s the person you are, both personally and professionally. What makes you unique. How others think about you.
So this is about you proactively managing your identity – what it is and how it’s communicated.
I was thinking… managing your personal brand online is a LOT like managing your credit score. Think about it. Whether you proactively manage your credit score or not, you have one. Similarly, whether you proactively manage your personal brand online or not, you have one. And other people are aware of your personal brand. Similarly people, or specifically institutions, can access your credit score. So you might as well proactively optimize and manage it, right?
Managing your personal brand online is a pursuit that can definitely help you advance from a B+ to an A+!
And this topic of personal branding sits right in the sweet spot of my passions and expertise – strategic brand management and interpersonal communication. Can you tell I’m excited about this?
Welcome to episode number 68! Today we’re focusing on one specific aspect of personal branding: COMMUNICATING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND ONLINE.
When we think about all the time we spend online, how people learn about us, how we’re networking, how people get jobs these days, there’s no question: we need to proactively manage our respective ONLINE brands. We leave a digital footprint every time we post something online and every time someone posts something about us. This is your primer on managing all this.
In future episodes we’re going to focus on developing or identifying our ideal or optimal personal brand. And separately we’ll also focus on communicating this brand offline – IRL. There’s a lot to get through here. So one step at a time.
Here’s what you’re going to learn in this episode. you’re going to learn:
- Some preliminary thoughts about crafting your unique personal brand. This is really just a teaser;
- some general guidelines to keep in mind about personal branding,
- and then the nitty gritty: some specific tasks that you can do online – right away. These specific tasks fall under 3 categories: UPDATING, PARTICIPATING, and MONITORING. I’ll take you through what you can do for each of those in detail.
Before I go any further, I need to warn you. This is a particularly dense episode. You’re going to learn a LOT here. But as always, you don’t have to take notes. Keep doing whatever you’re doing – walking, driving, cooking, tidying,… Just keep listening and then later you can access the shownotes on the TalkAboutTalk.com website. If you click on PODCASTS and then SHOWNOTES, there’s a printable PDF there with everything you need to know – a succinct summary and the full transcript. You’re welcome.
Let’s start with some context. Actually with YOUR PERSONAL context. If you already know what your personal brand is, if you can articulate your personal brand, then you can use this episode to help you communicate your personal brand online.
For most of us, our personal brand is a work in progress. And for some of us we might have almost no idea what our personal brand should be. If this is the case for you, then you can use this episode to help you audit what is being communicated about you online.
Over the next few months at Talk About Talk, I will take you through a detailed process to help you identify and articulate your ideal personal brand. A personal brand that’s:
- unique and focused (differentiated from others).
- ownable (so it’s credible for you now and in the long term);
- relevant (resonates with your colleagues and clients)
- and of course your personal brand will be aspirational (it inspires you).
I can’t wait to help you develop your personal brand. But first, we’re in audit mode. What brand are you conveying online right now? In order to assess it, you probably want to have some preliminary ideas about what your ideal personal brand could be.
So here’s what I hope you’ll do. Right now, or more likely later when you print the shownotes. This is step one. Take out a blank sheet of paper. Before you open anything… grab a pen and ask yourself a few Qs.
- First, how do you want others to think about you?
- Then, how does this compare to what others currently think about you?
- If it helps, you can categorize your thoughts as a chronology – what you‘ve been and done in the past, what you are right now and what others think about you, and some thoughts on what you’d like to be. It could be job titles, it could be personality traits, it could be adjectives.
- Ask yourself a few Qs, starting with your past:
- Think back to when you were 7-8 years old. What made you unique back then? Has that changed?
- What failures in your past did you learn the most from? Do you have a “transformation story”?
- What are some of your most impressive past accomplishments?
- Then move on to your current status. Ask yourself:
- What do others think about you?
- What is your current identity? Role?
- What are you currently focused on that excites you?
- Moving on to the future:
- What is your dream? What do you want your legacy to be?
- You might also ask yourself what makes you unique compared to others in a variety of contexts. For example: What makes you unique compared to your graduating class? Compared to your peers at work? Compared to your friends?
- And last. If your feeling really ambitious, you might want to start a list of key words. These are the words or phrases that become a core part of your identity. It could be your role, your unique personality traits, or your area of expertise.
Writing down your answers to these questions, these prompts – it’ll probably feel a bit awkward. But that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing. Remind yourself that there’s a big payoff here, so the effort is worth it. You might also want to remind yourself that we are only at the audit stage at this point. So there’s no pressure. You just want to start this personal branding process with some preliminary thoughts.
So start your brainstorm with a blank sheet of paper. Answer a few of these Qs, and then create a digital document of these thoughts that you can update later.
OK –that’s the first step. Some preliminary thinking about crafting your personal brand.
3 KEY PRINCIPLES
So now you at least have some context. Moving on to 3 general things to keep in mind when you’re communicating your personal brand online. These 3 things are general – meaning they will apply regardless of your industry and regardless of your function. Whether you’re support staff or marketing, whether you’re in research, operations, finance, you name it. And no matter whether you are just starting your career, or you’re a successful CEO nearing retirement. There are 3 things to keep in mind:
- Be generous. This might seem obvious – but just take a look online and you’ll see that people are often not generous. What do I mean by generous? I mean being gracious. Not being overly salesy. You can see examples of this on social media. Are you a giver or a taker? Are you offering compliments, praise, building on others’ ideas, helping? Or are you always in sales mode, boasting, taking what you can get. Be generous.
- Keep it clear and consistent. This is a fundamental premise in effective product or brand marketing, and it applies to our personal brands too. What is the one key message? If someone happened to read your bio on some website, and then on another, will they even get that it’s the same person? And within that bio, what is the main takeaway about you? I’m not saying that what you post on Twitter or IG has to be exactly the same as what you post on LinkedIn. Certainly not. But they shouldn’t contradict each other. Ask yourself, across media, are you generally consistent with your tone and message? Keep it clear and consistent. And last….
- Keep it updated. Yes that outdated headshot photo of me when I was 25 yrs old is …lovely. But I might shock people when they meet me on Zoom or IRL if all they’ve seen is that outdated photo. Let’s save those old photos for TBT! The same goes for any written profiles or bios of you that are out there. Keep them updated.
So those are the 3 general things to keep in mind as you’re communicating your personal brand online. Be generous. Keep it clear and consistent. And keep it updated.
Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. Now we’re going to run through how to communicate your personal brand online – specifically how to do 3 things: how to update it, how to participate online, and how to monitor it.
3 things to do: UPDATE, PARTICIPATE, MONITOR
UPDATING – when I say update, at this point you probably don’t have your personal brand fully articulated. So all you’re doing is checking what’s out there online about you, and correcting anything that’s wrong or outdated. You’re in audit more. So check your contact details, what’s written about you in bios or profiles, and photos of you – headshots or other photos.
- VARIOUS WEBSITES: CORPORATE, PERSONAL &/or OTHER ORGANIZATION’s WEBSITES
Depending on whether you’re an entrepreneur or if you work for a big corporation, there might be a blurb, or a bio written about you on a corporate website. You might also have a personal website where you’ve included details about yourself. And don’t forget to check the websites of various associations that you might be affiliated with – if you’re on a board or a committee, or if you do some volunteering, for example, you should check there too. As I said, the first thing to make sure everything is correct and complete.
(2) SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
Of course you should keep your profiles updated. How often you post is up to you. But what people see when they come to your page, your profile on LinkedIn, YouTube, FB, IG, Twitter, What’s App, or whatever – that needs to be updated!
If you have any old, outdated accounts, then by all means, delete them. I heard some great advice from Andrew Jenkins a long time ago that I think is very true. It’s better to have a strong presence on 1-2 platforms versus a mediocre presence on several platforms. That goes for whether it’s a brand, a corporate account or a personal account.
Try this suggestion: choose 2 platforms that work best for you. (For me, it’s LinkedIn and Facebook.) Almost no matter your career, I recommend you have an updated LinkedIn account. You can update your LinkedIn profile with the section-by-section advice that’s listed in Talk About Talk episode #62, called OPTIMIZING YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE, where I interviewed Andrew Jenkins.
In that episode, we talk about the 3 most important elements in your LinkedIn profile:
- your headshot
- your headline
- your banner image
And here’s the thing: you can use these 3 elements on other social media platforms too, if you like!
If you nail these elements – your headshot, your headline and your banner image on your social media profiles, that’s a great start in terms of communicating your personal brand online hrough social media. Of course, what you post, your comments and even what you like on social media says a lot about you and your personal brand.
So that’s the 2nd place to look for opportunities to update your personal brand online: first there’s various websites, then social media profiles. What’s the 3rd place?
(3) YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE
You should think of your email signature as your “interactive business card” that’s included with every email you send. It’s not exactly searchable, like a website or a social media profile, but your email signature is online, and it’s viewed by many. It’s viewed by anyone and everyone to whom you send an email.
You can set this up or update your email signature in the PREFERENCES or OPTIONS menu of your email provider.
Of course, you want to include your name. What else? Well, again, think of this as an online business card. So
- Your title (or your headline from your LinkedIn profile!)
- Logos are fine, but not too big
- And you want it to be interactive, Links are a great idea to promote yourself, but not too many links! You can link to websites, articles or videos that you’re proud of, maybe your social media profile, or maybe your latest podcast (!), … And it’s easy to update your email signature. I update mine every two weeks.
If you’re interested, I included a link in the shownotes to a newsletter where I outline more ideas and tips on your email signature, (( HERE.))
(4) YOUR CONTACT FILE (& your voicemail message)
This one is even less obvious. But it’s easy to update, and it can make an impression.
Recently someone pinged me their contact file. You know, the entry in their address book where they have all their contact details.
I was so impressed at how complete the file was… It made it super-easy to follow the person on social media! And it got me thinking… this is a great way to make sure you are accessible, and details such as your job title and headshot look exactly the way you want them to look.
Depending on your situation, you might want to create 2 contact files for yourself. A few suggestions for your Professional Contact file:
PROFESSIONAL – include your job-title and firm, professional headshot, work email, work cell number, office address, and work-related social media
PERSONAL – include your family member names, family photo, personal email, home phone, home address, and personal social media
Then, don’t hesitate to text or ping the relevant file when someone asks for your phone number or other contact information.
Speaking of phone numbers, I have a Q for you: When was the last time you updated your voicemail greeting ? Try calling yourself right now and ask yourself if your voicemail greeting reflects what you want to communicate with your personal brand. If not, update it.
OK – that’s the 4 things to UPDATE when you’re communicating your personal brand online: websites, your social media profiles, your email signature, and your contact file in your address book.
A few suggestions: you can communicate your personal brand online in venues that we’ve already mentioned, like on established websites and on social media, as well as other online venues, like in virtual meetings and online conferences.
Depending on your job situation, your level, the size of your organization, and so on, seek opportunities to showcase your personal brand online on various website. It could be your employers’ website, it could be your personal website, it could be on the website of other organizations that your affiliated with. In addition to your bio and your contact details, proactively communicate things like papers you’ve written, videos that showcase your work, anything else that you’ve produced that can be showcased online.
I have a suggestion if you’re stuck. Think about something relevant to your personal brand – something that your passionate about and where you have unique expertise. Write a short paper about it. I very short paper. And then publish it as an article on LinkedIn. That’s a great place to start. If you want to see some examples, I’ve written several which you can access from my LinkedIn profile.
GET OUT THERE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Speaking of LinkedIn, a big part of communicating your personal brand online is getting out there on social media. What you post, share and comment on says a lot about you. Again, don’t forget the guidelines that I shared a few minutes ago: be generous. Be clear and consistent.
So maybe think about topics that are relevant to your personal brand what you are passionate about and where you want to share your expertise. Then generously share your insights AND THE INSIGHTS OF OTHERS. Participate in others’ threads. Focus and be generous.
TARGETED FORUMS (or CHATROOMS or GROUPS)
Sometimes these forums or groups reside in the social media platforms that we’ve been talking about. Like LinkedIn or FB groups. Yes, there is a the Talk About Talk “Communication Skills” FB group and I’d love you to join us!
You can Subscribe to these groups so you can make timely comments.
Again, my general advice is relevant here. Don’t be sales-y! Instead, be generous. Share your passion and your expertise. Eventually, forum and group members will start asking you questions!
VIRTUAL MEETINGS & ONLINE CONFERENCES
Whether it’s a meeting r a conference, there are some things you can do to communicate your personal brand. Starting with your online name tag. Depending on the platform – like Zoom or Teams or whatever, your name will probably show up under your video square. A few tips:
- Use your full first and last name. A partial name “like “awojnicki” or an email address is not ideal.
- Change your name, depending on the context of the conference or the meeting. For more intimate contexts, just your first name might work. For networking conferences where you want to meet people, include your first and last name and the name of your firm.
- If there’s something you want these people to know about you, include it on your virtual name tag!
Beyond your name tag, there’s the online chat. If it’s appropriate for this meeting or conference, then go for it. It can be fun! And you can make an impression. Be vocal.
There are two things to do here:
Google yourself. Once per month, google yourself, and see what comes up. I advise you to remind yourself to do this by creating a monthly recurring calendar event with an alert.
It’s a lot like monitoring your credit rating. Other’s are doing this anyway, right? If someone’s curious about you they will google you. You need to know what they will find.
To make this exercise valid: Make sure you clear your browsing history and clear your cache before Googling yourself. Or better yet – ask someone else to Google you.
- What shows up on the first page is critical. For each entry on that first page, ask yourself, should it be:
- Removed (deleted)?
- Encouraged? (You can try to increase the ranking of pages you’re proud of by creating more links to that page – on other websites, in social media, in your email signature, etc.)
- Go through the same exercise with images or photographs.
- Beyond the first page of Google rankings, it’s really more of a disaster check…
So there’s googling yourself and then there’s setting up alerts. You can set up google to email you an alert when your name is searched or posted online. I have alerts set up for my name and for Talk About Talk. I suggest you do that too. I’ll leave a link to the instructions for how to do so in the shownotes, And by the way, this tip of creating an alert for your name not only helps you guard your personal brand, it can also alert you to potential identity theft. That’s hug, right? So set up alerts!
OK – that’s it. But that’s a LOT. Let me briefly – very briefly – summarize.
As you’re thinking about your online presence, consider updating what’s already there, then proactively communicating, then monitoring. There are so many opportunities for you to communicate our personal brand online – from social media to websites to your email signature, your contact file, targeted forums and groups, virtual meetings, online conferences, and more. As you’re updating, communicating and monitoring across these online venues, don’t forget: be generous and be clear and consistent.
Alright – I hope you found this primer on COMMUNICATING OUR PERSONAL BRAND ONLINE helpful don’t forget that you can access everything you need in the shownotes.
One last thing – if you’re not signed up for the Talk About Talk communication skills newsletter, please do! This is your chance to get free communication skills coaching from me every week in a simple to digest email. I promise no spam and no more than one per week. Just go to talk abouttalk.com to sign up or email me directly and I’ll add you to the list. You can email me anytime at [email protected].
THANKS for listening – and Talk soon!
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawojnicki/
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- Email: [email protected]
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