In an unprecedented era of self-expression there’s an endless amount of ways to participate. From blogging to Snapchatting, guest posting on Medium to throwing up #TBT photos on Instagram, the world is a now village where your voice can be carried to the many other inhabitants. It’s important to remember that these are all instruments. You can use them to make your voice sound angelic, or break a car window. As Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” I’d argue in the age of widening technology, it can happen faster, and be destroyed even quicker. His point remains, “If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Let’s explore the value of personal branding in millennial age.
What is Personal Branding?
As I explained in an earlier post
, branding is the process of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes a product from other products in the market.
Applied to yourself, it is the ongoing development of the identity or image that others interface with. It is how you “self-package”. You may have a number of skills, unique insights and hobbies that others would appreciate. By putting them together, particularly with the available social tools, you put yourself in better standing to be noticed, for what you want, how you want.
People connect with people, not businesses.
Why Should You Build Your Personal Brand?
I need a new blender. My old one burnt out from making too many smoothies. It was good, but I’d like something stronger for those frozen berries. I may ask friends for a recommendation, listen to both their praises and complaints about their machines. I’ll then launch my web browser to research the brands and models they mentioned and see what the online blending communities have to say before making a choice, and potentially finding a new strawberry-banana recipe along the way.
Well, you’re not a blender but showcasing who you are in a smooth and consistent way (see what I did there?) online is an advantage you have when you decide to take charge of your personal brand. It’s an opportunity to establish your credibility, by maintaining a variety of pages that exhibit who you are in depth to your desired audience. It will also help distinguish you from the crowd if you showcase your unique skills and talents.
While I may be searching for a new blender, your desired employers or clients may be searching for someone just like you. The goal isn’t to simply exist on a number of web pages and remain static in hopes of a better future. If you have a vision for where you’d like to end up, be it professionally or socially, personal branding is the vehicle to get you there. New work, a larger network, and connecting with an audience are all possibilities, and likely if you are prepared to talk your personal branding seriously.
Done in the right way, personal branding is an opportunity to be yourself and have your core message amplified to the people you want to connect with the most. There are no hard and fast rules to this constantly evolving game. Personally, as a writer I don’t use Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, but I’m active on LinkedIn, Tumblr and post on blogs like this one. While the tactics may differ, there are a number of strategies that will help you succeed. I’ll explore some of these strategies in another post.