Not talking about tattoos here…

by Bill Nolan

One of the most overlooked, yet crucial aspects of business success depends on how you are perceived by the public. I am not talking about your business brand at this time, but your personal brand. Your personal brand is just as important as everything you do for your business. It is now 2015. In this age of social media, everything you do, say, and share, whether good or bad, will undoubtedly bleed into other aspects of your life, namely, your business. It only takes a quick Google search to show multiple instances of past indiscretions and poor personal choices that may directly affect the perception one has of you and your business. Not only reserved for the self-employed and job seekers, many potential customers for any given business are scouring the internet to find out the background of staff members they may be working with. Is it fair? Maybe not, but it’s reality. If you’re not careful, the posts you make today could come back to haunt you tomorrow. Obviously this doesn’t mean you should abandon your personal online presence. Instead, you need to ensure your actions help and not hurt you professionally… common sense. And I know it sounds easier than it looks. Filters here please!

personal branding

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Use personal, social accounts to network as I have said many times in the past. You never really know where an opportunity may arise, and you may just find a new audience for you and your business in the least expected places. The goal here is to make thoughtfully shared, educational, insightful, and even funny posts. Post to inspire and trigger conversation. This lets people understand more about you and feel comfortable working with you. It’s a great opportunity to present yourself in a way that’s more appealing to potential clients or a potential employer, if that’s the case. Use your personal, social platforms to showcase your talents, expertise, and accomplishments. Please note, you do not need to go overboard or you might come across looking arrogant, conceited, etc. And that is really not attractive. Your mission should be to give a glimpse of what you are capable of, not to convince the world that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. That will just never work.

Easy enough, right? Well, not really. Too many people take to the internet during emotional periods, sometimes intoxicated periods and it just gets ugly from here. This will never be a good time to share your thoughts. Posting pictures of family members, pets, babies, and the related is fine, but it must be done in moderation. Selfies? Sure, if there is a point to it. A selfie or group shot at special events, travels destinations, attending meetings, and proud moments are perfect, not because you spotted yourself in the mirror looking fine as you were leaving the bathroom. And twenty pictures of yourself making odd duck faces or trying to look overly sexy… hmmm, not okay. Enjoying a drink with friends or co-workers is fine. Doing a beer bong, really? You get the picture, self control is the name of the game.

Now I am going to make this short and sweet, avoid religion and politics like the plague. It’s fine if you are passionate about these subjects, but your social media platforms are not the appropriate place to be pushing them. Regardless of your views, a lot of your connections and their connections do not agree. I am a betting me, but it’s best to leave this powder keg alone. Otherwise, there’s always someone to instigate an argument, you will not be able to stop from fueling the fire, another person will fan the flames, and in the end… you lose. It’s a fight that you can’t win. Stay away from politics and religion. I can’t believe I still need to mentioned this one.

Well, sometimes it’s too late.

There’s Still Help For You Yet

One of the primary struggles for social media managers and brand developers is having a client that doesn’t realize they are inadvertently hurting themselves and their company because of personal branding ignorance and misuse personal accounts. Good social and brand managers will give you brutally honest feedback on this. First, you must realize, acknowledge and embrace how the public really perceives the content that you are sharing…. not how you see it. Let’s be honest, sometimes an unbiased look from someone that’s not associated with you personally is the best approach. Admit it, friends let friends do some pretty silly things to avoid conflict.

If you are still not comfortable handing over the reigns to a brand manager and social media manager then have no fear. You have options.

Time To (App)ly Yourself

Kred and Klout

These two sites measure your online performance and influence. These factors can really display the condition your personal brand. Not to worry, If your scores aren’t out of this world, they give you tips on how to increase your ranks. You will begin to realize that the power of sharing great content, engaging with users across multiple platforms, and networking with influential users can really produce dramatic results. Another great feature is the ability to see other users’ scores. This gives you a peek at the top influencers and show you who is best to interact with. Keep in mind, as in life, the company you keep typically affects how you are viewed.

Google Authority

Although non existent at the moment (retired recently), in my opinion this was a great feature that really did wonders for those using it. Considering Google’s search engine really powers the internet, you couldn’t go wrong with this weapon in your arsenal. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on as quickly as anticipated, but I expect a revamped version to appear sooner or later. When it does, utilize it…

This online reputation management tool is for those who are serious about their personal branding. This site provides excellent information on optimizing all of your various profiles in order to present yourself in the best possible way. In addition, they offer tools and insights on how to remove negative posts, links, etc. that may be damaging your personal brand. It’s definitely worth looking into.

This is a very small sampling of what’s to come. As more and more people begin to realize how important personal branding is, that it has a substantial impact on their business, then we will start to see an explosion of these types of sites in the future. Keep in mind, personally branding is not only about online presence. It’s how you are perceived in all walks. It’s never too late… start planning now. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know where you want to head, create your story and market yourself now.

When all else fails… consult with Social Media and Personal Branding Managers.