Everything has gone digital – including you. The move to all things digital may have started with e-commerce thanks to Amazon, but since they established their now famous online bookstore in 1994, everything has moved online. The web is the place we go to do practically everything. It’s how we reserve our movie tickets, where we go to learn and grow, how we book our airplane seat, and how we determine which restaurant we want to book. And in case you haven’t figured it out, it’s where we go to learn about our colleagues, managers and peers. And vice versa: your personal brand has moved online too.
That’s great news. In many ways, digital branding has leveled the playing field and enabled more professionals to increase their visibility with people – people who could be instrumental in accelerating their career trajectory. Being online gives you a platform that’s not connected to your title or how many people work for you. Instead, it allows you to share your knowledge, expertise, and opinions so you can connect with key stakeholders and build meaningful relationships.
That means the flesh-and-bones you needs to be translated to the bits-and-bytes you. But the old rules of personal branding still apply. Follow these rules to make sure the online version of you is authentic, compelling, and generating value for your career.
1. Know your unique promise of value. You must be clear about who you are, what separates you from your peers, and what your message is. Visibility has no value without clarity. Do the work to get clear about your brand and turn that clarity into your bio. It will serve as the basis of how you talk about yourself online. The digital landscape is cluttered. Your unique message will stand out if it’s clear.
2. Know your brand community. Your brand community is the group of people who need to know you. It includes people like decision makers, influencers, peers inside and outside the company, people who might want to work for you one day, etc. The digital age makes it easy to find and nurture these crucial connections.
3. Build your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the place people go when they want to learn about you in a professional capacity – so make sure your profile is the online version of you. Focus especially on your headline, headshot, and summary (about) – they’re the elements that help you deliver your first impression.
4. Know your social media preferences. You’ll be more likely to adopt a regular habit of interacting with your brand community online if you enjoy the process. If you like visuals, consider Instagram. If you like to share pithy, witty quips, Twitter is your tool. You can’t beat LinkedIn as a place for making your articles visible. And if you like to be in front of the camera, YouTube can be your best friend – and your most valuable tool for expressing your thought-leadership. Don’t feel you need to be visible on every social media platform that exists.
5. Commit to being visible. Strong brands don’t go into hiding. They’re visible, available, and valuable to their brand community. Make a schedule for communicating with your community. It doesn’t mean you need to post content every day. It just means that you’re an active participant. Commenting on others’ contributions and sharing it with your brand community is a great way to stay engaged with your people.
6. Measure the impact of your actions. The move online provides an opportunity to expand your sphere of influence and attract the attention of key decision makers. But not all actions have the same value. It’s important to determine what is having the biggest impact with your community and to regularly refine your online communications strategy to ensure it’s working for you. Consider metrics like:
When you follow these six rules, you ensure that the digital you is in line with the real you and driving significant value for your career.