So that headline is a bit on the aggressive side, but it is a reaction (overreaction) to a very outdated and dangerous train of thought around professionals in every industry, which is gaining some popularity.
And while I completely understand that some people are just tired and frustrated from what the see among “Marketing Bros” and Millennial Influencers, it ignores a truth about the 21st Century economy and the culture of work that can’t be ignored, Social Media Platforms and MORE IMPORTANTLY Search Engines like GOOGLE, aren’t going away.
Manage Your Reputation or Suffer the Consequences
Every single human being has a Personal Brand. We all have a reputation, and a body of work, and we either are promoting it intentionally, and thoughtfully to work for us, or we are passively disengaged from it and hoping it doesn’t work against us. “Brand” is not something reserved for Nike or Coca-Cola, and the idea that it ever was is a myth that people perpetuate largely to address their own insecurity or their personal distaste for what they perceive as “braggadocio” or self-aggrandizement.
When You Apply for a Job, Meet Someone at a Conference, or Get a New Client, They Will:
- Check Your LinkedIn Profile
- Search Your Name in Google
- Look You Up on Facebook and Instagram
- Ask Someone on Social Media About You
While it’s uncomfortable to think about the fact that a reputation always tends to beat a credential, it doesn’t make it any less true, and we all know it.
You grew up your whole life hearing “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and being told about the power of networking and notoriety. Why have you stopped believing that in a world where Instagram, Google, and Facebook exist?
As an introvert, I am completely sympathetic to people who want their work to do the talking. The world got really noisy in the last 20 years and so if you respect your work, and you want to be people who are flashy and lack substance, you have to resign yourself to amplifying your volume, or you can leave the market at the mercy of people who don’t work as hard but talk twice as loud because you decided to keep clutching your pearls, and let good work be ignored so you can feel principled.
If you believe in your work, promote it and make it searchable. If you think your work deserves attention, fight for it. Stop thinking you’re too good or not good enough, to put your face and voice to work advocating for your industry, your craft, and your values.
SOCIAL MEDIA EXIST. SEARCH ENGINES, EXIST. That is the HARSH REALITY that I need you to embrace as you read this. Social Media has permeated every part of our culture and society, from our casual engagement around our favorite television program to massive world-changing movements like MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) bringing together influencers and their fans to Plant 20 Million Trees, to elevating complete unknowns to the Presidential Debate Stage like Andrew Yang. And with the major platforms each boasting 1 Billion to 2 Billion Monthly Active Users, you can’t ignore it forever.
This is not the DUMB FAD THAT WILL DIE IN 10 YEARS that everyone predicted it would be. It has proven that we are social creatures and now given us the ability to amplify our conversations and as a result, harness the ability towards a purpose, whether that be frivolous, or improving our fortunes.
BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND AS A PROFESSIONAL
If you’re still reading this there is a chance you’re between the ages of 25-45, I know that because one of the boons of Social Media is all the Analytics that have let me contextualize the type of person I tend to attract with my content, people are typically 10-15 years younger or older than me (35).
Why does that matter? It means that you probably struggle with the idea of having a Personal Brand and have been turned off by the idea because of how you perceive social media influencers, gurus, vloggers or whatever else alienates you or annoys you on Social Media.
The first step is to acknowledge that you’re judging people you don’t know and that if you met these people face to face, you would probably walk away from the interaction feeling they are a nice enough person and not ruining society as we know it, and that you probably have a few things in common.
The second step is to think about how you would like people to perceive you and your work, and some things that you are very proud of in terms of your accomplishments that you would like to be known for or that you feel could be valuable to someone, seeking out a person of your abilities or experience.
The third step is to think about how you best communicate. Believe it or not, I hated public speaking for most of my life and now I’ve spoken on stage over 75 times since 2015 and have made it a large part of my career, it’s something I’m currently known for. I started building my brand not with speaking or getting on camera, but with WRITING and creating my own blog. Later I would go on to create content via videos on YouTube and audio via Podcasting. Consider what media best allows you to express yourself and your ideas and could allow you to also demonstrate your skills and abilities, and create context around you. Once you consider this, you can choose to start using a Social Media Platform that suits your abilities and skills best. This video can help you choose the right platform.
The fourth step is to be very thoughtful about what you want to say and to think about what you want to be known for. Is there a point of view in your industry that you want to start opening more conversations about? Can you do so in a way that doesn’t put a negative light on you, your employer, your clients, and your profession? Or would you like for people to know who you are as a person outside of and beyond your job role and have the ability to gain that context on you and value you as a human being?
The fifth step and this is completely optional for you, is to build a website and get a domain name for yourself, usually with your name if at all possible. This is important so you are always in a position to have a platform you own and control completely where you can create context and put something on the record. It also is the most likely result to come up in Google and Search Engines when people look into you. This is essential to reputation management for you in the 21st Century marketplace. We have a discount for Webhosting and domain names for my readers through Bluehost.
The sixth step is to use your platform(s) to create context on who you are, what your experience is and showcase the results you produce. The style in which you do this is up to you. You don’t have to flex on anyone or be a braggart, you can be a voice of reason, or humble if that suits your personality. But you forfeit the right to complain about what others do or say if you don’t toss your hat in the arena and provide an alternative for people to consume. If all that is available is something shallow, why not offer sustenance for the underserved market of people who want depth?
The seventh step, don’t merely broadcast yourself in isolation, use this opportunity to scale your reputation, and build real relationships, powerful networking contacts, and should you be in the position, elevate others you feel have been overlooked who contribute meaningful value and produce good work.