Educate your kids, your staff, your customers and your prospects, warning them that their online personal brand is a major source of reputational risk. Am I overreacting? No! I predict that your own personal brand is your prime personal real estate of the future – one of the most valuable things you will own and take responsibility for.
How you are portrayed publicly, what you stand for, how you behave, how you articulate your skills set and the values you hold dear, are directly proportional to the money you earn, the jobs you get and the people you attract.
Your personal brand, particularly your online personal brand, is your equity for the future – and it starts when you’re young, whatever your experiences. One of our clients, entrepreneur Jack Delosa, appeared on Sunrise this week talking of his achievements and his beliefs – he is 24! He will also present on the same bill as Sir Richard Branson in October at the 21st Century Financial Education Summit in Melbourne.
The importance of your personal brand is paramount in job searches. According to a recent article published in Smart Company, more and more businesses are now short-listing candidates based on the information found on their social networking sites.
As you would for your company brand, it’s important for you to define your personal brand and this is more pertinent than ever with social media. Do you know what is being said about you online? Are you making the most of your personal online presence?
This week, I’ve been reminded of this in more ways than one. Partly because I’ve run strategic planning sessions with some very senior CEOs and their concerns are palpable. The corporate world is still frighteningly naive and partly because we’ve watched some decisions made directly related to personal brand on some key individuals.
These high-profile people include Australia Test cricket captain Michael Clarke, who has ended his sponsorship contract with Bonds after deciding it was inappropriate for him in his role as captain and ambassador for Australian cricket. And Cadel Evans has been offered multimillion-dollar sponsorships as a result of his Tour de France win. Within hours of his victory his personal brand was under increased media scrutiny and now he’s a role model – whether he likes it or not. His actions, what he says and who he mixes with are under the microscope.
Mia Freedman of Mama Mia fame received vicious criticism regarding her position on the recognition of the achievements of sportspeople when she appeared on the TODAY this week. She closed her blog to comments on the topic. Is her personal brand determined by her own personal opinion? Yes, very much so.
So what is a personal brand? It’s the personal identity that stimulates a meaningful emotional response in another person or audience about the qualities or values for which you or your business stands. Like a company or product brand, a personal brand can take years to build up, but only seconds to destroy and then recover from. Think of former US president Bill Clinton, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner and former publisher Conrad Black.
In today’s market, the average person will have between six and 10 jobs in their lifetime. Gone are the days of a “job for life”. So the simple fact is that many of us completely miss out on one of the most powerful branding strategies available in today’s market: The creation of your own personal brand. Personal branding is continuing to gain in popularity as a tool to manage reputation online, and primarily through social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Here are a few things you need to think about and act on to optimise your personal brand:
- Define what you stand for. Who are you?
- What are you good at, what should you be known for?
- What are your personal and professional objectives?
- Audit your status on social media sites.
- Unfriend inappropriate commentators. You wouldn’t take it face to face, so don’t take it online.
- Educate those around you that what is written on social media, can stay on social media.
- In the playground or office when you say something it’s heard by one or a few people. When you publish it online you say it to potentially thousands.
- Take responsibility for your personal brand before someone else does.
As a leader or business person, you are captain of your personal brand, take responsibility before someone else does!