Personal branding requires you to craft a professional image by communicating your unique interests, skills, and expertise. Your personal brand should reflect not only your professional interests, but it should also provide specific insight into your industry to show others what you know. But what happens if you need to promote two very different personal brands?
There are plenty of individuals who have varied interests and professional identities. Perhaps a political blogger is also pursuing side projects in photography. Or a high school teacher is looking to start a network for other adults interested in environmentalism.
Whatever the case, having multiple professional images to maintain can create a rift in your identity. You don’t want to risk alienating part of your audience, but you also need to promote two different focuses. Luckily, you have a few options for this juggling act. The beauty of it is, you can choose whatever option works best for you:
Fine-tune your focus. Determine which aspects of your brand actually need to be promoted. If you run a small business but also work as a public speaker, you may find you have a greater need to promote your public speaking career rather than a business that people are able to find through other outlets, like advertisements or word-of-mouth. That doesn’t mean you need to wipe your business from your professional online presence—for example, you can include that you’re a small business owner in your LinkedIn bio, but focus your blogging efforts on public speaking insights.
Segment your brands. Some may find it best to completely separate their two focuses. This could involve creating separate Twitter accounts: for instance, one for your graphic design work and insight, another for your 9-to-5 at a marketing company. This doesn’t mean you have to have a secret, split personality—feel free to include links to your other Twitter account, blog, website, or portfolio so that your audience can easily browse both of your professional interests.
Merge your brands. This option can be tricky, but many people find it’s easiest to simply communicate that they have a multi-faceted professional image. This is because many workers don’t have the time to manage multiple online profiles, nor do they want to risk dramatically segmenting their audience. Merge your brands by clarifying in your Twitter bio or on your LinkedIn page that you’re a teacher by day, environmentalist by night, and share information and insight relevant to both professional images. If you’re clear about both interests, your audience should have no problem finding the information most relevant to them.
Personal branding involves a tricky balance no matter what your career aspirations. Promoting multiple professional focuses often depends on what you find most manageable. Weigh the options above to determine what’s best for you—good luck!
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.