The way we appear to the world is an expression of our identity that some call our “personal brand.” Our brand is how the world experiences us. When we show up for a job interview it’s important that we present ourselves in a professional, appropriate manner. The same is true of our online identity. If we don’t show people who we are by what we say and do, they’ll make up a story about who we seem to be – that story could be way off from who you are.
The story of you
Both online and in real life, its important to express positive universal values while telling the true story of who you are. This is especially true online because your online presence will create a global impression that can last for a very long time.
In my first session talking with soon-to-be health care grads of Rush University here in Chicago, I discussed the concept of personal branding. A simple approach to this is to choose one word that expresses a trait that tells the world something important and positive about you. Because graduates in health care have very specific knowledge and use particular technologies, keywords in a resume or LinkedIn profile tend to be identifiable and universal. Although you want to make sure that you capture the correct keywords, an added way to stand out is to deeply understand your values and choose a word that embodies what you admire and aspire to professionally.
This will take some reflection and self exploration. In your professional life, remember your word, whatever it is, be it “compassionate,” “efficient,” “friendly” or all three and adhere to its standards as best you can as you go through your every day life.
Our brand is how the world experiences us.
Just as Starbucks IS good coffee. You ARE what you ARE to people. This has everything to do with the impression you leave people with. It is deeper than image. It emerges from your core. To understand the story of you, explore these “W’s.”
Who are you as you know you? What happened to bring you to this work — it can involve professional and personal inspiration. Where are you from and how did that affect your choices? What do you most look forward to experiencing in your new work?
The answers you come up with are unique to you. Understanding that story has nothing to do with being phony or deceitful and everything to do with knowing your strengths and working to them.
In recently considering my personal branding word, I asked a friend. She said “I see you as an Illuminator.” I liked that. So here’s my draft story of Sally as the Illuminator.
“I’m an illuminator. All of my life, my curiosity has taken me behind the scenes to learn and more deeply understand how things work. I am also drawn to understand solutions so that I can be part of making the world a better place. My findings often feel golden to me, so I am greatly motivated to share my happy discoveries with the world. I share through writings, photographs and multimedia. As important, I learn and share perspectives and insights through personal meetings.”
Once you’ve found your word or words, it’s time to combine that with your resume and create a branded profile online and use it for building your career. The first step is to understand and build your network. For this, I favor LinkedIn. As your network of professionals, it is the hub in a wheel of your career search. In my next post, I’ll explore how to use Linked In.
Useful Links about online privacy
An article from Wired about LinkedIn’s recruiter program
How online social behavior can work against your career
Links from the Wall Street Journal on online privacy.
Nothing is private online, especially messaging apps.