Over the last two weeks, the topic of personal branding has come up a lot for my audience. Whether you are seeking traditional employment, launching a side hustle, or taking the full leap into self employment a strong personal brand can be a major asset to reaching whatever your career goals are (whether it's a promotion, your next client, or sale).
Some things to consider whether you are a traditional employee, side hustler, or self employed:
For the traditional career path: It's not enough to have a twitter account that you only tweet about the Bachelorette (Seriously, is anyone else #TeamDerek this season? *UPDATE: I wrote this post before this weeks episode! He's definitely going home next week)... but rather leverage social media platforms to brand yourself as an expert in a specific skill that your company craves. Are they looking for someone to unlock social media strategies? Are they looking for someone that can network like it's nobodies business? Show them that you are that person! By developing a strong personal brand and becoming well known for that it can lead to promotions for you (because if that's how you spending your free time, imagine what you could do if you were getting paid!), or it can lead to recruiters or other companies that take notice of your skills and want you! As millennials, we have way more potential than actual results in the workforce, so by showing employers that you have an innate skill that you are genuinely passionate about, they will take notice and have a deeper belief, trust, and respect in you and your ability to be that ideal employee.
For the side hustler: Okay, maybe you already have a career and don't want to put it on blast that you are trying to break free from your 9-5... in that case, I would set up entirely new and branded social media platforms. You could set these up using either your name, maiden name, middle name, some sort of moniker or the name of your side hustle. Really take a moment to consider, if an employer Googled you, would they be able to find that this is connected to you? And if so, would you care? Keep in mind that you don't want to do something so out of left field that if it grows you won't be able to grow the brand with that name too. Then get to networking with your newly branded social media profiles! Build relationships, be present, and start building that "like, know, and trust" factor with your audience!
For the self employed: You are your brand when you're self employed! You should have a strong personal brand (especially if your company or blog is under a different name), for added credibility down the road, increased visibility, and an overall safety net. So if I ever decide to shut down TCM, I always have Rachel Ritlop to fall back on. Rachel Ritlop is way more polished and professional than TCM, and if I ever decide to go work for a company again, it'll be a lot easier for Gen X to understand than TCM. This "personal" brand showcases me as a career and business expert that gets written up in Forbes, Monster, and Fast Company.... that looks pretty serious to a potential employer! If I can get that kind of press for myself, imagine what I could do for a company? Plus, when I am working with larger company for independent contract work, they are more drawn to my polished personal brand, and most don't know about my lifestyle blog, but my blog readers always find out about my professional self and coaching over on Rachel Ritlop.
How to brand yourself on social media: It's actually really easy! Share relevant articles and up to date research, create your own weekly or bi-monthly Twitter chat, partake in Twitter chats, Periscopes, Facebook Lives, or Instagram Chats to showcase your expertise, join Facebook or Linkedin Groups and connect with others to build your social credibility and social proof (testimonials, references, praise, etc.), share people's content that you want to build a relationship with and then cold e-mail them, oh many the list goes on and on! You can build a personal brand by spending 10 minutes a day on it or 10 hours a day on it! It solely depends on what you're goals are, so make sure to get really clear on those before you start wasting time without a strategy!
Lastly, don't forget about your other social media profiles just because you have a polished personal brand! What do I mean by that? I have a polished personal Twitter, but my Facebook is pretty private (it's not even my real name!), people constantly find and friend me on that Facebook profile (even though I have a dummy account with my real name, they quickly realize that it's not really my true Facebook). I can't stress this enough: Facebook and other social media platforms are constantly updating their privacy settings. Privacy settings on social media are not something you "Set and forget" because they change and we ignore the little notice they send out! So ever 3-6 months check your privacy settings, make sure they are as private as possible. Consider unlisting your "real" personal pages from search engines, make sure only friends can see (not friends of friends), and even with good privacy settings, thing before you post! Once it's out there, even after you delete it, it's never really gone. So be smart!