By Amanda J. Weed
When you think of a brand, you may envision a large company peddling its wares to consumers. Brands are not just for big business, though. The most important brand you will every work for is small. So small it’s consists of only one person. It’s YOU.
Yes, you are a brand, whether you realize it or not. More than 80% of employers search potential candidates on Google and more than half search candidates on social media. How can you make the transition from a casual social media presence to one that makes a great professional impression with employers? Here is my list of four DOs and one DON’T to start you on your personal brand journey.
1. DO create a consistent bio across all social media channels.
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you on your social media channels. A quick way to create consistency is to use the same name and profile picture for all of your social media. Those items are the most commonly shown when doing a quick search on social media, so make it easy for others to find you from one channel to another.
2. DO follow the 80/20 rule.
Potential employers don’t expect your social media presence to be all business. I recommend the 80/20 rule. In personal branding terms, that means 80% of your communication should be building relationships through sharing knowledge and showing your personality. Identify two to three areas that you want explore in your career and start sharing knowledge in those fields. Only 20% should be about selling yourself, such as sharing a link to an article you wrote or announcing an award/accomplishment you achieved.
3. DO build your network of key industry influencers.
While numbers are impressive, who you follow (and who follows you) will be more impressive to a potential employer. How can you convert a key industry influencer into a follower? It’s often a combination of timing, luck, and plain ol’ patience. Become a follower of your influencer and start engaging with them. You may not catch their attention the first time, but keep on trying.
4. DO join the conversation.
Another way to attract key influencers and build your professional networks is to start participating in industry chats on social media. There are a multitude of Twitter chats that focus on social media and many industry professionals are regular contributors. Start slow by “lurking” for a few chats to get the hang of the lingo and to learn who are the key contributors. When you feel ready, jump in by retweeting meaningful comments and, eventually, build up to making your own contributions.
5. DON’T go incognito.
While it may be tempting to mask your identity by using an alias on social media, a 2015 survey commissioned by CareerBuilder reported that 35% of hiring managers were less likely to interview applicants they couldn’t find online. Instead, build a positive social media presence that supports the qualities that you are promoting in your resume and practice “Defensive Googling.” Well before you send out your resume to prospective employers, do a Google (and Bing, Yahoo, etc.) search for your name. Make sure that the first few pages of search returns are not only reflecting you, but also reflect you in a positive light.
Building a personal brand is not an overnight transformation. It will take consistent effort over time to perfect your brand. Continue to monitor your brand with Defensive Googling to see if your efforts are making a positive impact. If you put in the work, your brand will set you apart from the competition when you are ready to enter the job market.
Amanda J. Weed is a Ph.D. student and Strategic Social Media instructor with the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at @amandajweed.