WARREN Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” As we still live and adapt to this pandemic, businesses and individuals are being forced to go online with their products, services and brands. From social media accounts to Zoom meetings, webinars and WhatsApp groups, we are connecting like never before. So what does this mean for your personal brand and your reputation? It simply means that you now have the ability to position, package and present your brand to the world just by showing up online, which comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Personal branding essentially gives you an opportunity to showcase and share your value, knowledge and expertise in order to stand out in your profession or industry. It creates thought leadership, trust and connection, it allows you to be known for a 'thing' and can open doors to great opportunities.
Digitisation of Reputation
Branding expert Rory Vaden describes personal branding as “the digitisation of reputation”, which simply means every single tweet, post, comment, like, share, video or recorded voice note has the chance to become a part of your digital footprint that the world has access to — in many cases, leaving a first and last impression with those who happen to discover you.
In this digital age there are people right now making decisions about utilising your products and services based on what comes up in a Google search about you, making it so much easier for people and companies to have access to your personal brand without ever meeting you in person.
Believe it or not, more and more job recruiters are jumping online to find their ideal candidates for potential jobs before even advertising through traditional media channels, and the number one platform that they are using to do this is Linkedin — an online platform that connects the world's professionals.
However, in addition to checking out your Linkedin profile, they may also be checking out your other online details such as your social media platforms, images and videos that may also show up in an online search for your name.
On the other hand, you may have no visibility online at all which can also send the wrong message, and it makes it that much harder for a recruiter to validate your credentials when shortlisting for opportunities.
We see examples of this more and more frequently when a leaked video, voice recording or inappropriate comment or post ultimately leads to the firing of an employee. Bad news travels fast and with digital transparency and ease of access to information, not even deleting the post can save an individual. The damage is already done.
I think what a lot of people fail to realise is that when you become a part of a company or organisation, you now become a brand ambassador or corporate influencer for that company. You are now associated with this brand and its values — not just in a professional capacity but also in your everyday life. Your actions can now directly have a negative or positive impact on the clients and company that you serve and represent.
“People don't do businesses with companies, they do business with people” . People want their professional service providers to have a personal brand which allows them to feel a sense of trust and connection to the individual.
When you show up online with your product or service, people are able to identify a personality behind the brand. Think about some products or services that you purchase or support, not necessarily because the product or service is the best but because you “like” and value the creator or business owner and it allows you to show support. Or, think about a product or service that you love, but because of the personality, values or beliefs of the owners you opt not to support that business.
Testimonials also play a major role in purchase decisions. People want to see that other people have used or experienced your product and service before making a decision to support or purchase. Essentially, they want to know that what you have to sell actually works.
So what can you do to enhance and protect your personal brand? Start by asking yourself these questions:-
• What problem do I solve?
• What am I passionate about?
• What do I have knowledge about?
• What do I have results/experience in?
• What are the things or services people would buy from me?
• What business do I want to be in?
Having this initial clarity is key to understanding the unique value that you offer and also helps you identify the audience that you serve based on your experience or expertise.
As it relates to your online reputation, I always recommend starting with a simple Googlesearch to get an idea of how the world is already experiencing your brand or business. This will clearly tell you what, if anything, shows up for your name; if it is relevant, updated and accurate information; and if it aligns with the person you are today.
Once you have that data, you are already armed with some key information that will help you update or enhance your online presence. Here are some key areas to also consider:-
• Update your online profiles - include a headline statement that clearly communicates who you are and what you do.
• Update your profile image - use a professional headshot and dress the way you want to be addressed.
• Do a social media cleanse - review and delete content that is not relevant or does not align with your brand.
• Start connecting with your existing audience and creating content that showcases the problem that you solve for your audience.
If used correctly, a clear and identifiable personal and professional brand can become a trust accelerator and help you to stand out as an expert and thought leader in your industry, as well as open doors to the right opportunities, especially in this growing online world. More importantly, it allows you to serve your ideal audience, client or potential employer and makes it that much easier for them to find the right information about you.
Naomi N Garrick is an author, PRSA-certified reputation champion and personal branding coach for executives and entrepreneurs. Visit www.linktr.ee/naomigarrick or follow her @theprchick on Instagram to learn more about her workshops, corporate training and online courses. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org