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Branding yourself in the social media age

By Marissa Woods - Posted on 25 October 2013

Ahead of next week's Annual Strathclyde UAE Alumni Event, speaker, brand consultant and Strathclyde alumnus, Marissa Woods looks at the issue of personal branding on social media…

A good friend of mine and accomplished Business Leadership Psychologist, Dr Rob Yeung once told me, ‘People give opportunities to those they like and trust’ and in business today, as I learned early on in my career journey, perception is reality.  So what about the perceptions that we build through our social media presence?

The first place to start is to think about what is already in the digital domain about you, review it and then take control of how your ‘brand’ is being presented to anyone (a future or current employer, potential customer or even journalist) who might wish to give you an opportunity. Would they want to know more about you or form an instant judgement of your ‘brand’ based on images, comments you make on social media pages for example?

The majority of digital and media savvy business people do have some element of social media presence. They manage perceptions and their personal and business brand image by putting their best authentic selves on the visible digital shelf.  They almost always have consciously thought about how they display their identity. They do so by separating their business social media from personal. You can still have a private life; just remember to tick the appropriate privacy buttons!

In some cases, I hear a point of view expressed that placing yourself in any sort of social media means placing a huge amount of additional energy into it and by default adding something negative into the daily life role you lead.  I strongly believe this is really missing the point and role social media can play in enhancing your business and career.

When I am asked to mentor entrepreneurs or high potential employees, the key message I advocate is that once you understand we are all in the business of marketing ourselves or our business, beyond the mastery we have, you finally take control of your own ‘business brand’.  Social media is just another tool that you can use to authentically build and project your Personal Brand. It is a channel to share your strengths with others who can link you to opportunities, and even be your best business ‘paparazzi’ if you think of it that way.  Wouldn't you rather manage your own placement and identity in the digital space?  Are there any comments, opinions or images on the social media space relating to you, that present your weaknesses rather than your strengths?

One thing I certainly learned in my amazing University days was creating positive perceptions and the power of social connections (I graduated well before advent of the internet I must say). All branding methods and marketing tools I realised I had to master early on, in order to secure my first career placement in the middle of an economy dip. I am most grateful to have tested out my personal brand strategies on campus and continue to build 20 years on in the digital age.

Start by making a mental shift around how you view social media. It is a tool, like any other, to connect you to the people and things that can help bring you closer to a specific business goal. By having a strategy, then focusing on how to package your strengths, go ahead and share in these communities what opportunities you wish for, you will be truly surprised at the offers of assistance you receive.

Positioning yourself and your ‘brand’ of skill, expertise or gift must be approached in the most selective of social media forums. Whether it’s about promoting yourself (leave that to Facebook, aboutme.com) or sharing business topics and making connections (LinkedIn) or simply building a support and personal ‘library’  (Twitter) build your brand in the right social media.

Just ensure you separate your social media into ‘personal’ and ‘business’, just as you would in your office.

When we talk about business credibility, it's usual for someone to start with a quick search on the Internet to review ‘you’, from this they will inevitably form a judgement before they likely have met you face to face.  Consciously make an effort in your social media channels to benchmark yourself at the ‘top’ of your digital wish list. Manage perceptions of your business brand.  Put your best CV to the test and start thinking like the best publicist for your own authentic brand.

Oh, does it work? Well you want to know what my business brand strategy is in 2013? To be a recognised as a thought and industry leader in branding (business and personal!) by speaking for recognised industry brands…with Hult MBA University, Strathclyde Business School and a number of leading brand institutions under my belt by Q3 2013 I need a new social media goal.

How do you manage your personal brand? Has it created business or development opportunities? Let us know in the comments below…

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