This means that it’s no longer enough to have a good reputation in one’s current position. We need to think about how we’re perceived in the broader marketplace by potential future employers.
Even if you intend to stay in your current job forever, clarifying your unique value is something you need to attend to. Clients, conference planners, awards committees and other professionals may be checking you out — primarily online — and you want to make sure that they find the best representation of you.
We’re talking about personal branding, a key element of success in the Internet Age.
A term first coined by Tom Peters in 1997, personal branding includes your professional reputation, online image and personal characteristics such as your work style, community engagement and worldview.
It incorporates the particular skills, talents and areas of expertise you’ve cultivated. When I host workshops on personal branding, I ask participants the following questions to help determine the elements of their personal brands:
- How would your colleagues describe your strengths?
- On what issues are you the go-to person in your organization?
- What do you know more about (web design, compensation plans, marketing to baby boomers) than most people?
Once you’ve defined your personal brand, it’s time to showcase it to recruiters, bosses, customers and others who may be assessing you. Here’s how LinkedIn can help:
- Be authentic. The best personal brands are genuine and honest both in person and online. It can be tricky to showcase your personality on the web (you might love puns, but those don’t go over well on a professional profile), but it’s possible with a bit of effort. For instance, if your personal brand includes a balance between your detailed accounting skills and your friendly personality, your LinkedIn profile can include both your technical credentials and the fact that you belong to several networking groups. You can also ask former and current colleagues to write LinkedIn recommendations highlighting this combination.