A lesson in personal branding: hiding online is no longer an option.

Today I want to take a moment to talk about some of the changes in perception of an online persona.  There used to be this school of thought that when someone googled you, it was best to have nothing pop up. While this means that nothing potentially negative would pop up in search results,  unfortunately,  this means that nothing positive showed in search results either.

This school of thought has never really applied to corporate brands or businesses, so I’m talking mainly about personal branding and of course, physician practices.  Even though physician practices are businesses, they have been slow to make the migration to online, and I guarantee you one of your doctors still has yet to make a website for their practice. If this is your area of interest head on over to my post on Getting started with compliant Healthcare Social Media strategy.

pugtato personal brandingThese days, in a fully digital, iPhone-information-on-demand world, it’s really important to build an online persona or personal brand.  The days of hiding online, or pretending to be one person at work and one person in your personal life are over. These days, personal tidbits spill over whether through Twitter, Facebook, or a personal blog- and I think that’s OK.

Personal branding is a great opportunity to show the world why you are awesome.  You are awesome, aren’t you?

Sure you don’t want to share everything with your employer, especially if you are job searching, but it will be impossible to hide who you truly are and your real opinions if you plan on being at a company for a long time.  My recommendation is to build a robust and public personal brand- one that your current employer will be proud to see and one that future employers will be chomping at the bits to hire you from.

Personal branding is a great opportunity to show the world why you are awesome.  You are awesome, aren’t you?  That’s what I thought. Here are PUGTATO’s tips for getting started with personal branding.

  1. Top three.  The first step in personal branding is figuring out what you want to highlight in your brand.  I’m a big fan of sticky notes, dry erase boards and good old scratch pads.  Start listing out what you feel are your assets.  While you are at it, think about your weaknesses too-  you will want to start thinking of ways to improve on these at some point. When you have ten strengths listed, put them on colored sticky notes and stick them on the wall.  Start moving them around and ranking them until you can narrow down to your top three.  Base your branding strategy off of these three underlying drivers.  Make sure you are highlighting them consistently as you build your brand.
  2. LinkedIn: Make a LinkedIn profile, with a picture, and be sure to have more than your name set as public.  At a minimum, make your picture, your real job title and one school from your education public.  Additionally, take the opportunity to customize your public link so that it appears higher in searches on google. This is 2013 and LinkedIn is a great way to network.  Having anything less than this set as public dates your personal brand and your resume.  Take a look at my LinkedIn profile for an example. Notice the end of the extension on my public profile is “elisabethcramer” not “234134dji” which is what you will get if you don’t personalize your link.
  3. Online Portfolio: Consider making an online portfolio.  Don’t post anything confidential like your social security number or anything revealing like your home address.  Nobody needs a stalker showing up at their house. Instead, post some professional information about yourself and if you can, highlight some of the work you have done.  Some websites will let you upload actual pdf copies of your work.  My online portfolio has actual copies of work I’ve done (that are not considered confidential to the company where I work) which gives the world an idea of the type of results I can produce individually and as a team member.  My portfolio is not perfect- it doesn’t view well in older Internet Explorer versions because it is created using HTML5,  but then again, why is anyone still using older IE versions? An online portfolio is a fantastic way to proactively show work you have done, to give employers insight into tangible results you have produced, and gives you control over the brand you build for yourself.  If the thought of making a portfolio from scratch seems way to overwhelming, you can try something easy like making an about.me profile.  Check out my about.me profile as an example.

These are three really easy steps anyone can take in building their online brand.  Have questions or need tips?  Shoot me a message and we can talk.  Personal branding is crucial to professional success!  Get online and take control of yours, today!

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