As Universities release students into the “real world” many are underprepared for today’s job market. Most students have a social media presence of some sort, but thinking about a professional brand hasn’t been high on their priority list. It’s not too late, but it’s time to take a considered and mindful approach to what your brand represents in the world. Most importantly, to understand it so you can begin to shape it in the direction you want it to go.
What is a professional brand?
Your business brand is a reflection of your values, knowledge of the industry you work in, and who you are connected to within the business world. You may want to consider creating a branding statement to help you clarify what it is that sets you apart from others in your field. Think about the values that matter to you and how you want to be perceived.
Tips to create and monitor your brand on social media
- Google yourself to see what your brand looks like. Now write down what you WANT it to look like. Create a list of topics you can talk about intelligently and create a brand persona you feel fits you professionally and personally.
- Find thought leaders on social networks and follow their posts. Association is a powerful thing. So is an intelligent conversation. Find people smarter than you and learn from them. Add insightful comments and engage when possible. Don’t be a “yes girl”, and don’t show off, going on and on about how smart you are. Look for value you can add to the discussion. Share links to other sites they may not know, quote a recent study or a paper you’re writing.
- Practice gratitude
Gratitude is a basic element of society, but not used enough on social media. Someone shared your post? Say thank you, then see what you can do for them. Share one of their posts. Refer someone to them for business or as a social follow. Make gratitude a core value of your brand and more respect will follow.
- Be conscious of your reputation. Conduct yourself online in the way you would like to be seen by someone who has no other way to know you. Social media makes everything public, What is the impression you would have of you? It’s possible to bury negative items with good, useful content with a little hard work. Better if you don’t have to. If there are negatives out there, you can ask to be taken down (like that beer bong party). Ask, but don’t count on it. Once it’s online it can be anywhere.
- Listen, listen, listen
Use sites like Buzzsumo, Mention.com, Brandwatch, and of course, Google to find out what is out there for you to talk about. Stay focused on what you decided your brand focus is, and let the search engines fill up on content you write, curate or comment on.
- Practice generosity
Be super generous with sharing the posts that will be helpful to your network. Always give credit where credit is due with a mention or a link. When you find those great informational posts share them with your network and you may even suggest them to other thought leaders on the subject.
- ALWAYS be polite
Even if you are attacked by a band of marauding trolls. Be nice. Everything online can be taken out of perspective. How’s that going to look? As my mom always said, if you can’t say something nice, be quiet.
- Don’t fake it
If you are pretending to be someone you aren’t it’s going to come out. Be natural and friendly and generous with your resources. People will respond to that. They will also respond if they discover you are faking it, just not in a good way.
- Be network agnostic
It doesn’t matter which is the hot network right now. Pick the one that you are comfortable in and where people are talking about what is important to you. You don’t have to be everywhere either. Pick a plot of ground and stand on it. You can expand your brand later to other platforms.
- Celebrate your successes and those of the people you connect with
Everyone wants to share their achievements. Give congratulations and share in the glory without hesitation or expectations.