Think about it: what do people say about you when you’re not in the room? Whatever that is, that’s the start of your personal brand. And the most important thing you can do for yourself in 2015 is take control of it.
As a brand, you can leverage the same strategies that make celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. And you can build brand equity just like them. So, be four steps ahead, from a career perspective and take a quick look at four key trends:
1. You don’t have to use every single social media platform
You already know that social media profiles are like a pre-interview, a modern-day CV, a ‘cultural-fit’ barometer. And the platform choices are exhaustive.
There’s Twitter, Facebook for Business and LinkedIn. There’s Instagram, YouTube and blogging. And then there are podcasts, vodcasts and webinars. How to choose?
Many people today simply don’t choose, taking on the burden (or adding to their interminable To Do lists the obligation) to use most of these. But you don’t have to.
Simply decide which one or two or, at most, three will speak to your audiences. Where do your communities live? LinkedIn? Youtube? Or Twitter and Facebook? Go to them where they are. Invest there. Everywhere else is bound to be a time-waster.
2. LinkedIn only works when you take it super-seriously
If LinkedIn is going to be one of your Top Three, you need to spend real time on it. Start by leveraging your email inbox. If you’ve been using LinkedIn for a while now, chances are you’ve connected with most people you know/have worked with. That said, searching through your email contacts is a great way to find people who might have slipped your mind or who work in a different industry than they did before.
This one isn’t rocket science: keeping your LinkedIn profile updated . . . yep . . . obvious. But so many people get busy and forget. Granted, you shouldn’t need to make major changes to the experience or education sections, but if you consistently update your work portfolio, you’ll keep connections clued up on what you’ve been doing.
Finally, LinkedIn has applications that you can add to your profile to enhance it in different ways. You might want to add WordPress, which lets you sync blog posts with your LinkedIn profile. You could use the SlideShare or Box.net apps to embed presentations or videos. Or you could connect your LinkedIn account with Twitter, to either display tweets on your LinkedIn profile or share LinkedIn posts on Twitter.
Remember: you don’t need all of these. Pick one or two, and ignore the rest.
3. Come to terms with the fact that video is the new black
About 10 years ago it was websites. You had to have one to be taken seriously. And you still do. But the game-changer these days is video, and putting video online.
Why? Because the power of video is now. It shows and tells. It’s memorable. It allows you to deliver a complete communication that’s visual, relatable, and will build emotional connections with people who are making decisions about you.
Option 1: Video bio
A video bio projects your personal brand in a way that shows people who you are and what value you can deliver. It’s not a video version of your CV, in which you laboriously recite your credentials and experience, but a 3D portrait of you.
Option 2: Video message
If you can get a colleague, a staff member or (ideally) a professional to video your next presentation or take a video of you sharing an anecdote, do it. If you’ve been interviewed on TV, get the producers to load the clip onto YouTube and share that. Use any decent-quality expression of yourself being a pro on film, and start there.
4. Decide, in advance, what you’ll say ‘No’ to next year
Are you a chronic over-committer? This can be bad for your health, your spirit, your productivity and yes, your personal branding. So, my advice is: in 2015, plan to say ‘No’ to things that sap your energy but don’t rejuvenate you. Here’s how:
Let’s say you’re asked to do something optional that you can’t commit to. Just say this: ‘I appreciate your thinking of me and I’m honoured by the request. But I don’t have time to give this my best attention right now. I think you would benefit from finding someone who can devote more time and energy to this project.’
Let’s say you’re given a ridiculously short deadline. Say, ‘I know this is a high priority for you and if it’s absolutely necessary for me to complete my side of it by that date, I can make it happen. But if I could have a few more [days, weeks, etc], I could deliver something of a much higher quality. Could I please have a bit more time?’
Remember: By saying No to something, you’re saying Yes to something else.