Posted 20/09/2017

Personal Branding – more important now than ever

It's time to be brave

I’m a big fan of the concept of ‘personal branding’, in truth, it’s something I’ve been mindful of for most of my career. And now that I’m a one man operation, I feel it’s more important than ever before.

Personal branding is not exactly a new concept. We’ve been doing it for years without even realising it. It’s always been an important tool for getting ourselves noticed and putting our personalities across – in how we speak, dress, approach, and react to everything in business. And with social media now an intrinsic part of society, it’s important to have our online personas aligned with who we are in the real world.

I had a great business card a few years back, it had a caricature of myself on it – with 3 buttons undone on my shirt and the necklace I still wear daily. The “business-card Mike” would talk to you through your phone via the genius of Blippar. It was a fantastic talking point and showed a side to my character and personality that would be impossible to convey on a traditional wallet-sized rectangular business card.

Another card I carried for several years simply said “Mike” and my email address. I felt I didn’t need to share any more details, and if people wanted to find out more, they could do their own research. It was a bit of a bold move but it got me noticed and conveyed my no-nonsense approach to business effectively.

From wearing my shirt buttons undone to reflect on business successes (3 buttons were undone on a good day, 1 button undone on a bad day) to rocking up at a black-tie event in jeans and a t-shirt, I’ve always been aware of how I display myself personally and the effect it has on people’s perceptions of me.

You’ll still see these visual displays from me now… it’s almost like my uniform!

These days my personal brand stretches further thanks to the Internet, and my online presence is growing via my website and online profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. And it’s important for me to show transparency in my business affairs and tell the world what I’m up to. People can easily locate me for keynote speaking opportunities, motivational seminars, non-exec opportunities and charitable events.

You’ll find that my online profile reflects these elements of my business and personal life effectively. I share a mixture of content around the topics of entrepreneurship, technology, motivation and charity and it comes high on my list of priorities to keep my online activity current and refreshed.

Putting yourself out there online can seem quite daunting at first but in order to stay relevant in a fast-moving world, we have to embrace change. I’m a firm believer in this – and the rise of social media and online profiling are changes that are unlikely to go away.

With many employers believing that the traditional CV is no longer relevant and up to 80% of employers Googling potential employees as first step in the screening process, you need to ensure your online profile is a true, professional representation of you which stands out and makes you interesting in your field.

Think about representing all areas of yourself to demonstrate your professional skills, experience, hobbies and interests. Get creative with the different digital platforms available. Twitter is an excellent resource for worldwide and industry news to share and comment on. LinkedIn is great for connecting with like-minded professionals and potential recruiters.

Be sure to clean up your Facebook and Instagram pages if they display a side to you that you wouldn’t want your professional world to know about. A good piece of advice: don’t put on Facebook what you wouldn’t want to see on the front of a newspaper!

Remember: the number one thing you need to sell to get to higher places in the working world is YOU! It’s time to be brave, be bold and make the most of the most powerful tool we have at our fingertips – the online community!

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