Being an employable person in the modern world can be challenging. You’re always busy representing the company you work for while also trying to be yourself. With the rise of social media, it’s getting harder and harder to keep your professional side separate from your personal side.
At times, sharing your personal beliefs or jokes online can get tricky, but they are part of what make you unique. What if a future employer sees some troubling information? Once something is posted online, it never truly can be erased. How can you balance the professional side of yourself while still keeping the personal touches that helped make you stand out? Additionally, when you receive criticism or negative feedback about yourself or your personal brand, how can you respond professionally?
Balancing the professional and personal side of your brand can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Oftentimes we get too caught up in one side or the other, but there are ways to equal them out. Here are some tips on how to keep your personal brand professional without giving up your personality.
The Importance of Personality in a Personal Brand
Personal Branding 101 is simple: be yourself. But sometimes that line can get a bit blurry in our online, always-plugged-in world. How do you determine what to post and what to keep private between your friends and family?
When it comes to branding yourself, you want to stick out and be unique. Not doing so can be the difference between making connections that lead to a career and being stuck in a job that doesn’t get you anywhere.
Plus, reflecting your true personality in your brand can help recruiters and hiring managers make a more informed decision about how you would fit into their office culture. Does your online presence look bleak and strictly professional? Then you might not fit in with the extroverted and “whacky fun” of a small marketing firm. However, you might fit in perfectly with a financial consulting team that requires confidentiality. It all depends on how you want your online self perceived by others and what career goals you hope to achieve.
As our world continues to build a stronger online presence, it’s also continuing towards a more remote, contractor, and freelance economy. This “Gig Economy” is growing at an exponential rate, and showcasing your personality through your brand can help you make an impact if you ever want to become a part of this growing movement. As companies struggle to fill temporary positions, they will look to online recruiting to find new freelancers and contractors. This is where your personal brand will be able to make or break your future connections.
Will you stand out to the right people and potentially bolster your income? Or will you be passed up over again and again for not igniting the curiosity of recruiters?
Connecting With Your Audience
Just as you would do within marketing, once you identify your audience, you have to think of ways to reach them. Since most people are functioning in the online world these days, your personal brand should as well. But what medium should you take?
LinkedIn was created specifically for people to build a professional portfolio online that can also showcase their personal brand, and — while certainly useful — are there other options? What about Twitter and Instagram? YouTube and Facebook?
Since billions of people utilize the regular social media platforms, it’s far too easy to get lost in the noise. Unfortunately, being clever and unique doesn’t always work for everyone, so sticking to just Twitter or Facebook might not work for you.
But since the internet is so vast, so are your options. You have the ability to not only build an audience of connections and friends on Twitter, but you can also branch out and create a Youtube channel. Periscope is also an option that allows you to livestream with your audience that wants to fund your ideas. Livestreams can be a way to not only showcase your brilliance and create a connection, but to also show your face to those who may be working with you remotely. As much as our world may be online these days, face-to-face interactions are still extremely valuable.
But livestreaming and Twitter are not your only options. There are plenty of online platforms and medias out there that could work for you. Podcasting has certainly been on the rise in recent years, as well as DIY videos and more. All of these different forms of media can help your audience better understand your motivations, your dreams, your experiences, and your hopes for the future. Maybe somewhere in your audience, people will be able to connect with you over those shared values and commonalities. These forms of media also make you more human, helping your online presence transform into that of a real living person on the other side of the computer screen.
However, keeping all this information in mind, it still might be difficult to know where to draw the line when it comes to remaining professional. One little retweet or comment about a recent controversial event could be a death sentence for your professional life. How can you draw the line between your personal beliefs and your personal brand?
A personal brand is a lot like the public persona you have at your office: you need to remain professional, avoid controversy, and tailor your conversations to appropriate subjects. You can’t walk into work and say an inappropriate joke without facing repercussions, and you can assume that the same would go for your online persona.
Of course, if your faith or your belief system is something that you strongly believe is a part of who you are, you don’t have to hide those facts. Allowing your faith to shine through your online presence can be something that adds to your personality and draws in recruiters. However, you can assume that more detailed opinions — normally those that also tie in with a political event or movement — should remain solely in your private life.
Unfortunately, too often small comments can come across as alienating to other people. The best rule of thumb is to assume that if your comment can come across as offensive to someone (within reason), then it’s best to avoid that subject. However, if something is near and dear to your heart, feel free to let it bleed into your personal brand. Your online persona should be a reflection of what is most important to you.
Pride in Your Brand
In our online world it can be hard to draw the line between remaining professional and remaining true to yourself. It unfortunately easy to cross lines and rant about controversial subjects, especially considering the current political climate. However, just as you avoid those subjects when in the office, you should avoid those subjects when building your personal brand online too.
But that doesn’t mean your brand has to be bland and flavorless. Quite the contrary, as your bland should showcase all the things that drive you. Your motivations and aspirations are what draw people in and make you inspiring. Also, showing off your flaws, mistakes, and growing pains can make you more relatable. Part of the reason why your online brand should be personal is because it reflects who you are and what people can expect when they interact with you.
Recruiters and hiring managers, especially, will be curious to see how you match up with their company culture. Your personal brand is not only vital to growing an audience, but it could also be the connection that leads you to the job of your dreams.
Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there, and don’t be overly cautious in building your personal brand. Remember: if you build it, they will come.