Thursday, November 4, 2010

Personal Branding: You are now a product. Get used to it.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Mixx, MySpace, Rapportive, Personal Branding,  Bebo, Welcome to the Internet. Welcome to Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. Welcome to Mixx and Digg and Propeller and MySpace, Bebo, Reddit, YouTube and 1000 others? And you're a personality on every one - did you know that? Do you know that?

Every time you register for a site, you need a nickname or a screen name. Most sites give you an option for a picture, or a lot of pictures - and over time, for as many social networking sites as you might sign up for, you begin to aggregate an image or a series of images. The question over time then becomes, "But, is that a saleable image?" or in many cases "Is that an image I'd want my boss to see?" - or my mother?.

Here's a test for everyone: A while back, I did a post about a new service called Rapportive. Rapportive is a service that collects public data about "you" and then displays it to "me" - on my Gmail sidebar. Go to and register. Then see how social networks report on you, and what they report. You will definitely be surprised - and maybe not in a pleasant way.

That's an effect of Personal Branding. Or a part of it anyway.

And there are many parts. Is your Screen Name the same on every site you're a member of? Is your photo the same? And is it a good photo? And on Facebook, is there a picture of you in your underwear dancing on a table somewhere? You may not want that. With personal branding, you control the images that people see, and you control the words they read as well - especially on LinkedIn. I can't tell you how many bios I see that simply list everywhere a person has worked and spend little or no time with what they actually accomplished in that position - and that I believe is a selling opportunity missed. Personal branding is being able to manage and direct ones image to be not only positive, but potentially profitable in the long run. And that's a lot more work than people think these days.

For instance: I work my Personal Branding on two fronts. There is the Product Branding I do to promote my book, Wild Wild East - and this blog is part of that. And there is my Personal Branding, in which I am the writer of that book. So, on Facebook, you see my handle as WildWildEast, because that reinforces a personal product - But on LinkedIn, I promote my own name only with little mention of Wild Wild East, except for the link to this blog. The Product Branding supports me, and my Personal Branding supports my professional work as a writer, with only a slight nod to the book. If your an accountant but also publish a knitting blog, that might be something interesting about you personally in terms of a LinkedIn link, but it's doubtful that your knitting blog will get you much accounting work. The important thing is to divide what is personal from what is professional and do that clearly - and then make good branding decisions based on the market you're reaching through the site.

And don't think your boss, can't find your Facebook page. He can.

Feel free to contact me on Personal Branding issues. From writing CVs and structuring the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook presentations, to more complex issues like how to effectively cross-manage 10 social networking sites, whatever you're doing is creating an image. Make sure it's the best it can be. You are now a brand. Get used to it.

1 comment:

  1. Marketing eh well any 9 year old up know not to use a purple font on a black background like in the header of this page


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