The concept of personal branding came way before social media. Everyone has a personal brand, whether they like the concept or loathe it. It’s inescapable. The issue most people have once they discover their authentic brand is how to manage it from the “big idea” to the execution of that idea and then actually protecting and marketing that brand for the rest of their life. Sure you can call yourself the “musical magician” or “the best doctor in Chicago for baby boomers” or “the social media surgeon,” but without managing that brand over time, it will lose it’s luster and visibility. In a sense, without brand management, all of your efforts will be for nothing.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you have to manage your personal brand:
1. If you don’t manage it, it will be managed for you
Taking ownership of your personal brand is extremely important because otherwise, people will categorize you based on a first impression. That first impression might not align to your branding strategy and the brand attributes that you selected might not be displaying. People can freely communicate about you behind your back and if that word-of-mouth isn’t accurately portraying you, then it will be much harder to reposition your brand in their minds. Brands of all capacities have lost a lot of control online (corporate, product, personal), but they still can stand for something and have a web presence that communicates what they are in business for. Without any time investment, you will start to find others who are branding you for better or worse.
2. People are searching for people just like you
Visibility creates opportunities (and more visibility). If you don’t manage your brand, then it will be very challenging to stand out in search engines and social networks, where recruiters, hiring managers and others are searching for people with your experience. It will be a major competitive disadvantage of you if you are proactively marketing your online assets (no one else will for you unless you’re Justin Timberlake – who hires people too!). If you search on LinkedIn or Bing for your name or your concepts name, will you be first? If you aren’t, then someone else is landing the clients that you could have and being sought out by the media.
3. The world is changing much to fast to leave it stagnant
Just having a personal brand isn’t enough because technology, the economy and the world in general are evolving much too fast. Facebook didn’t even exist ten years ago, Twitter was launched in less than five years ago and now we have location based social networks this year. It’s very hard to keep up with these changes, as well as figure out how to best use them for your career goals and/or business objectives. Make sure you’re in the loop because getting left out, can put you out of business!
4. It will help you avoid a personal branding disaster
A lot of conversations that used to take place in reality are now taking place in virtual reality. If you decide to ignore them, then you might wind up in trouble. Domino’s could have presented excess negative press by already being involved online and monitoring brand mentions. If people are starting to speak poorly about your brand and you aren’t there to state facts or confront it head on, then it could severely impact your future, at least with that crowd of people. Knowing where your brand exists, who is talking about it and what they are saying that could impact your brand, is going to really help you.
5. You will miss out on conversations that you can benefit from
Aside from a disaster, you will neglect to be part of conversations that might build your personal brand. For example, if two people are tweeting about where to find a home in your area and you’re a real estate agent, then you should be talking to both of them. Another example is if you were an internet marketer and you identify a series of posts within a LinkedIn group with people who are trying to figure out how market their businesses online, then you should be there. This is one of the reasons why Yahoo! answers and LinkedIn’s answers are such valuable tools.
6. Your brand will lack expert positioning
Competitively, you can’t afford to not manage your brand. The second you slack, you may lose your status in the search engines, and your face/name and words won’t be seen by your audience. Remember that when your brand isn’t there, a lot of other brands are, which means people may forget about you over time. By not managing your brand, you’re telling the world that you don’t care about your future. Also, it’s like starting a community and then walking away from it completely. One of the big ideas with personal branding is to become an expert in your niche, so you can stand out and be recognized. Once you stop the branding process, you will lose some of that expertise because you won’t be talking about what you know anymore.
7. It won’t be up-to-date, factual and relevant
When you don’t take the time to reflect, screen and update your brand with the latest information, then you become irrelevant. I like to use the example of someone who has a LinkedIn profile and decided not to update it with their latest job. That person is in severe trouble if they get laid off or if they are looking for some kind of career transition or escalation. The reason is because people are using keywords to search for experts online and if your latest experience (with the keywords to match) isn’t there, then you won’t appear in the search results!
8. Your competition is managing their brands
Smart people know that in order to get ahead in today’s information and online driven world, you have to participate or be extinct. Your competition is working hard when you’re not and visa versa. If you want to stay on top then you have to manage your brand. Competitors can manage your brand if you’re not careful. They can reposition their brand to combat yours if you aren’t active and they can come out with new content, products and services, while you are neglecting the change in your industry.
9. You decide what content is published and what doesn’t
It’s apparent these days that you have to be in the content game or be left out in the cold. Everything is content, from a tweet to a video to a podcast and a blog post. It is in your hands to decide what gets published and what doesn’t from what’s in your control. Everything else that is created and shared about your brand is based on what you publish or what information gets out there from other sources. If you only publish content related to your social life, then you are hurting your professional brand. That balance is important to keep and your profession voice is what’s going to build your career (in most situations).
10. Technology evolves and could leave you in the dust
From desktop computers, to laptops, to handhelds to phones, who can keep up anymore? Technology is moving at a rapid pace and it cannot be stopped. This is why being in touch with tech shifts is so significant now. You always have to be aware of what’s going on and if you’re smart, you’ll be ahead of the curve (an early adopter). If you don’t manage your brand, you won’t be able to take advantage of technology improvements and you won’t know what tech isn’t being used anymore (MySpace is dying, etc).