Can you imagine going a week without access to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or YouTube accounts? Some of us actually make a conscious choice to take some time away from posting on a wall, tweeting, joining a new circle, or uploading a new video clip. We need that time away from our online networks to get out into the real world.
Being Cut Off
Now imagine someone blocking you from your social media networks. You innocently try to log into your account and your access is denied. I was reminded of this on a business trip to China. For one week I was blocked from all my accounts – no ‘tweets,’ no ‘likes’, no social contact! I literally felt cut off from the world and after a few days it almost felt like symptoms of ‘social media withdrawal’ had started to set in. Social media had become such a regular part of my daily life that without it I felt naked!
Building a successful personal brand requires an active social media presence to ensure you are digitally distinct, not digitally dissed. If you are not on social media, your brand runs the risk of being invisible – which is literally how I felt for that week in China. So much of my own branding is invested in social media that my friends, followers, fans, and circles thought I had disappeared off the face of the earth. I even had one of my Twitter followers jokingly tell me after I was able to tweet again that she was going through her own kind of ‘withdrawal’ from not seeing my tweets.
Life Before Social Media
This experience was eye-opening. How did we socialize and identify ourselves before social media? While social media tools have certainly helped to catapult personal branding into the mainstream, we have to remember that Tom Peters seminal 1997 Fast Company article, The Brand Called You, was not a 140 character tweet!
Before we had online social networks we identified ourselves by our offline social clubs, sport teams, community groups, or school band. So while services such as Twitter and Facebook may be useful tools to build an online identity and communicate your personal brand, they certainly did not create the need for humans to form communities. Physical human interaction is in our bones and Tom Peters intention most certainly was for us to brand ourselves face-to-face at the next job interview, job fair, conference networking event, or cocktail party.
Personal Branding is About the Person
While technology has definitely been a catalyst for the evolution of personal branding, we cannot forget the person. We need to always remember to keep the human side of our personal branding efforts active and healthy. When creating your brand communication plan keep a good balance between online social networking efforts and offline physical ‘personal’ efforts such as talking at your local library, speaking at a “meet up,” presenting at a conference, or attending networking parties.
At the end of the day what ultimately matters is how we engage and use technology to communicate and manage our personal brands, AND how we walk away from technology when needed to ensure the human side is always first and foremost. You might get a foot in the door at a company due to your awesome LinkedIn profile, but it is your physical presence and how you engage and use your personal brand ‘in person’ that will ultimately seal the deal!
After all, it would not be personal branding without the person.
Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer” and is one of only 15 Master level Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. He is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to companies and careerists in Japan and adapting it for the Japanese culture. In a culture where fitting-in is the norm, his mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. His background spans over 21 years in intercultural consulting, international outreach, and global communication coaching.