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Branding Yourself/Identity

October 11, 2010

            In today’s internet age and the information superhighway, where news travel across the globe while they are happening and companies no longer doing business within one region, one would need to think how to evolve around this technology.

            Let us think how companies communicate their image to us. Nike for example has the phrase “just Do It”, Apple coined the phrase “Think Different”, GE came up with “Imagination at Work”, BMW has “The Ultimate driving machine”. Even people came up with phrases we associate it with them, think President Obama “Yes We Can” campaign slogan, Dr. King “I have a dream” or how about Ronald Regan “Its Morning Again in America”

            What about individuals like you and me? The idea of coming up with catchy phrase or branding yourself seems…well…not right, or is it? Our evolution started from smaller communities (villages) where each person knew the other, to a larger city reading about our city news in newspapers, to regional/state and country where Television brought us together and now globally with 28% of population connected online and growing at an exponential rate. While online we leave traces behind be it starting a social webpage or writing a blog like this one (or publishing it in local newspaper), it is no longer limited to our small Evansville region. Once this information online it’s accessible to anyone anywhere, therefore a careful thinking needs to take place on how your image is being perceived or what information you are trying to convey? At the same time, not having an online presence can be as detrimental as having a bad imagine online, of course it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

            In order to explain this let us take this as an example: We have three (3) individuals that moved to Evansville, one came from England, the other from Chicago and last one from Mexico. Those three individuals were highly respected in their community and great journalists in their small cities where they came from. They were different in the following areas:

  • The Englishman while in his resume it said he interviewed royalties and wrote XYZ articles (references available upon request) but he has Zero on-line presence
  • The Chicagoan has also a great resume, with on-line presence that showed the person partying , drunk with few quotes from his interviews that has few following
  • The Mexican on the other hand, not only he had a great resume but a huge following not only within his region but globally on the issues he discussed online

Knowing that today’s HR will search for you on-line (using various search engines) what do you think the initial reaction would be to the above candidates? Of course if we live in “fairy land” all three would be called in for an interview, references would be checked and everyone hired. But we live in high unemployment rate with intense competition. Therefore the HR person will be faced with this:

  • Englishman requires more manual research to verify his stories
  • Chicagoan while he has written few articles online he has small followers and has shown an imagine that doesn’t go well with this Organization (party pictures)
  • Mexican not only he has good writings but has a huge followers, which what this Organization needs to build its customer base and increase revenue. This person will gain an interview to investigate him further, while the other two will be eliminated.

            To brand yourself and improve your image/reputation online for those who are looking for a job or might be looking for one here are few tips:

  1.  E-mail address, while “cute” email address can be amusing to your friends to an Organization it doesn’t reflect professionalism. Your best bet is to have your first & last name as your email address (e.g. first.last@yahoo.com)
  2. In the Social media front, join groups that relates to your field BUT at the same time connect with people outside your field. Let us say you are an Engineer, connect with marketing people for example to gain insight on various businesses. While you have a networked online keep this in mind:a.    From time to time reconnect with your “networked” individuals, in other words do not treat it as Rolodex card to have when you need it, be active.b.    Tell people about yourself and who you are.

    c.    Avoid controversial images, quotes (unless you plan on making it a topic), associations with groups that will not aid your image. Let us say you want to apply for a job at Exxon but you are part of Greenpeace that protested against that company. Yes it’s a free country and Exxon will also be free to toss your resume out.

    d.    Leave insightful comments on related blogs using your name or the brand name you created for yourself. Hiding behind “Anonymous” name would convey the message that you are hiding something in your outside life.

    e.    Stand out from the crowd. Facebook is more a social medium; create an account in LinkedIn and other professional sites to convey your professional image. 

  3. Find out what you are passionate about and what drives you to be your best. Maybe you are in the wrong field and would like to switch fields, but how can you relate that to a new employer and reduce the risk. Maybe you want to change from being a Pilot to a car mechanic for NASCAR. Well if you had a youtube video showing how your hobby on working on high performance cars and wrote about it, this will make future employer at ease knowing you have the proper background.
  4. Make sure to stay constant to your message and even to your web name
  5. Clean up your social medium by removing what can be perceived as unprofessional items
  6. Check online for various branding techniques

             A person must face the brutal fact of their reality and the truth of their current situation to make the right decisions.  This would require you to focus on what you can do better than any other person to lead to the path of greatness.

 Finally, if I have missed anything (I’m sure I did), please do include it in the comment lines to help others.

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