In today’s interconnected digital landscape, creating a strong online presence has become a necessity, both for individuals and businesses. Survey after survey shows that the first thing over 90% of us do after being introduced to a company or person is to validate them online. It’s the critical “go” / “no go” to the next step in value and compatibility assessment. Basically, “You Are Who Google Says You Are.” For individuals, while many factors contribute to online (and beyond) success, one of the most crucial is the cultivation of a powerful personal brand. This is the amalgamation of your values, expertise, experience, personality, and social contributions which form the overall reputation. It must be carefully curated and presented to the online world in a form that’s current and compelling.
A well-crafted personal brand helps you differentiate yourself, garner credibility, and gain trust in your expertise. Consistency in branding fosters a stronger connection with your target audience. It opens doors to networking opportunities, collaborations, and professional growth. Personal branding contributes to reputation management, enabling you to shape and protect your online image. By investing time and effort into building a compelling personal brand, you can effectively navigate the digital landscape and stand out from the competition.
Building a strong online presence is a multidimensional process. Yes, of course, it’s our LinkedIn profiles but it’s more than that. LinkedIn is only one factor in building a strong online presence and it has a limitation. It does a good job of showing your experience — your degrees, the companies you’ve worked for, your title progression. What it doesn’t show is where you want to be, your transferable skills that qualify you for board seat consideration or for expansion beyond what your current job title would indicate.
Qualifying for the next step in today’s environment requires more than a job title progression, particularly for senior positions. You need to show “on and off the field accomplishments”, where you have contributed beyond job requirements. Moreover, LinkedIn alone cannot achieve that goal because it’s only one entry on your online search credentials.
The same applies to companies. We all read customer reviews to see how a company performs and how its strengths conform to the product or service we’re looking for. The first level of evaluation is a company’s overall reputation but that’s only the first hurdle. In the vast majority of cases, we take the next step to evaluate the team or the person with whom we will be working. This applies to virtually all sustained relationship situations. We want to know the individual’s experience and expertise but we also want to understand them as a person. The sum of the parts has to add up to a strong whole when evaluating partner or supplier options.
There is a fascinating dichotomy here. As I stated previously, survey data shows over 90% Google others, but less than 30% of us Google ourselves. We take care in how we look on Zoom (or we should!) or how we dress for an in person meeting, but we overlook our first line of offense AND defense — our online image. It’s a costly mistake and one which can be avoided.
A brand anthropologist who has been storytelling for brands since 2002, Anouk Pappers has interviewed over 1,000 CEOs, CMOs and business owners and published 15 books. Anouk’s primary focus is on working with women and diverse leaders to define their personal brands and pinpoint their narrative. Her company, Signitt, enables people to align their online presence with their personal brand, which positions them to achieve their next professional goal.
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