The most powerful career management strategies are based on personal branding, which is all about:
- defining a personal brand that is authentically based on oneself
- building one’s brand online in a variety of places, using (ideally) a rich blend of written, audio, and visual content
- maintaining the consistency of one’s brand so that it thrives despite the digital landscape’s inevitable changes
A certified personal branding strategist can help you with all of this.
Branding is rapidly becoming essential (for both entrepreneurs and job seekers) because looking for work (or clients) is now less about being a relatively anonymous hunter-gatherer and more about being a well-known, sought-after source of expertise. In other words, instead of you looking for your fortune, your fortune looks for you.
So if social media is so important to our career success, where are most of us hanging out these days? Inc.com has written an interesting article about where many entrepreneurs are getting online; here’s the salient chart (note that it’s accurate through the end of 2013, so the numbers may have changed slightly):
An effective branding strategy will include (as much as possible) the “four pillars” of words, pictures, audio, and video.
Here’s what this chart is telling us:
- Clearly, entrepreneurs are flocking to LinkedIn and Facebook. However, many of them will only establish themselves in either of these two communities – at their peril, as I’ve written about in my blog.
- Almost 30% of entrepreneurs do nothing on social media, which has been with us for over a decade! I find this rather shocking and I hope that this statistic is plummeting!
- Many entrepreneurs haven’t really embraced Twitter, which will soon become at least as important as LinkedIn and Facebook (check out Social Media Examiner and Hot in Social Media‘s interesting perspectives on the jockeying of social media communities).
- Hardly anybody’s blogging, but blogs are (and will forever be) one of the most powerful, flexible ways to establish yourself on the Web! LinkedIn (and, to a lesser extent, Facebook) may be good places to start, but for the longer term you definitely want to be growing your blog.
When planning your own strategy, don’t restrict yourselves to just the sites on this chart; there are many other social media sites that can be very helpful for you in developing a four-pillared strategy. Consider these:
- Vimeo is a video-sharing site that many find superior to YouTube. Hopefully it won’t get swallowed up by the likes of Google, Facebook, or Microsoft (but don’t hold your breath)
- Instagram (like Pinterest) is a powerfully visually-oriented community – and our attention spans are shrinking
- SlideShare is a great way to showcase your expertise by – you guessed it! – presenting slides
- Podcasting can be a great strategy because audio files download much more quickly than video files. Archive.org and its Ourmedia.org project are completely free places to create podcasts; Podomatic, SoundCloud, Libsyn, PodBean and Buzzsprout offer both free and paid plans
In case the prospect of “maintaining yourself” in so many places seems a bit daunting, Hootsuite (and a variety of other social media dashboards) will help you curate things easily across several different places.
And if you’re worried about sending your visitors off on digital goose chases, remember that the biggest social media communities allow you to easily link to external sites. So your LinkedIn profile can link to your Vimeo videos, your Slideshare decks, your Instagram photos, your Pinterest collection, and your blog. Facebook also allows you to do these sorts of things on your Company page.
Finally – whether you work for yourself or for others – never forget that for maximum success, focus your social media activities on establishing credibility, building trust, and above all, helping others.
Paul Raworth Bennett (Founder and Principal of NOVA Career Strategies) is a résumé expert, LinkedIn consultant, and Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategist (who was lucky enough to have Susan Chritton and Kirsten Vernon as his instructors). If you want to star in your own career, Paul would be happy to connect with you via the NOVA Career Strategies website, his Twitter account, or through his LinkedIn page.