Our modern lives happen in two parallel universes: one physical and one virtual. Their relationship can be compared to that of body and mind: although physical health and mental health are closely related and they constantly interact with each other, they most definitely require a different set of skills, techniques, strategies and professionals to be improved and kept at an optimal level. And exactly as a person’s overall health demands the smooth functioning of mental and physical elements, our personal brands – as it is indeed the case with many commercial brands these days – require an integration of online and offline ones to work in harmony if they are to achieve their goals.
Millennials take heed: online personal branding proficiency is often not enough to guarantee your personal branding success!
While it is true that at the start of the Personal Branding movement Generation Xers were often not skilled at developing a compelling online presence, we are progressively moving to a scenario where their younger and digitally-savvy counterparts – Generation Yers – are finding that it is the fledging offline side of their brands that is letting them down and sabotaging their way to career heaven. The thought that this should often happen during job interviews or key networking events is often a traumatic experience for many that makes them hide behind their online personas, and not gain the skills they need to improve the offline side of their brands – something vitally important especially for those who are seeking employment or career progression in areas where offline skills remain key.
In fact, online-offline integration is crucial even for jobs where more weight is given to the online side of the equation. Our ideal is always a well-rounded brand where the online synergistically supports the offline and viceversa – and this does most definitely apply to Millennials. But how do we make it happen?
For starters, a certain degree of self-honesty and an open antenna to the messages we receive when interacting in both the online and the offline mediums is helpful. I have personally met brilliant Generation Y bloggers incapable of holding an audience’s attention for more than 5 minutes just as I’ve met engaging public speakers whose posts are definitely below par. Indeed if you are a brilliant blogger, you should expect that at some point or another you will be required to address an audience; equally if your 2.0 self stands out, be ready for that job interview and start honing your interviewing skills now! In the end it is always your physical presence and offline performance that will gain you the seal of approval you need from that employer to give you the chance or that investor to finance your project.
Interpersonal skills are also key, and once more the virtual and physical world run parallel but their paths do not always cross. Heavy chatline users are not necessarily good conversationalists, and the ‘rules of engagement’ of offline interactions do not come natural to many young folk unaccustomed to them and more at ease with online conversations with their peers. More likely than not, their career progression is decided by people in top positions on the 45+ age bracket who may not be as knowledgeable about online parlance, and rely heavily on offline impressions to assess the value of a candidate or a proposal. That is why networking is such a good idea: if we choose events carefully, it offers us the chance to be exposed to people from different backgrounds, ages and ideas and also the opportunity to become familiar with their thinking ans speaking habits.
While it remains true that we must play our cards wisely and concentrate on those elements that define us as we develop our brands, it would be a costly mistake for digital-loving Generation Yers to believe that their 2.0 selves will be enough to make them reach the top. The acid test of a successful personal brand comes the day of the big meeting, speech or interview. Getting ready for them now is one of the best investments you can make. Be sure that the offline side of your brand is holding up and will be up to standard when you most need it. Perhaps sooner than you expect you will be glad than you did.