Once upon a time, a handshake and a business card were the only tools you needed to create a good first impression. Nowadays, we have social media, available in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and with all this variety comes the need to take personal branding to the next level.
You are your brand, and that brand is what attracts people to deal with you and by extension your business if you have one, on a professional level. But how do you create a good personal brand with social media, and better sell yourself (in that non-sleazy hooker or gigolo context, of course)? Here are three platforms you should consider, followed by some general words of wisdom.
LinkedIn is a good choice for building a brand in the corporate world, since it’s a network dedicated to helping professionals maintain contact with each other. It’s a great place for people to schmooze and look for a job, as well as for companies to recruit promising professionals.
One of the nice little features about LinkedIn is that it lets you come up with a tagline on your main page, which can be used to provide people with a quick summary of who you are. For instance, my own LinkedIn summary paints me as a professional writer who’s always on the lookout for more work.
Pinterest is geared more towards visual posts, such as videos and images. Members create however many boards they want, geared to whatever subjects interest them. For a good example of how a professional can accomplish this on Pinterest, check out executive Bob Bratt. Bob created four boards: Business Interests, alma mater, his hometown, and his sports interests.
Anyone who visits his page gets a good grasp of who he is, as well as an idea of what kind of business experience he has. Pinterest also lets you create a page for your business, which can further enhance your visibility by calling attention to your company.
Facebook is, of course, the 500-pound gorilla of the social media world. It’s also the site where you can easily get overrun with cat videos, heavily-repeated memes, and just a lot of other extraneous garbage. Still, you can create your page with enough filters and privacy options that you can actually maintain a functioning presence on Facebook that emphasizes your professional life. Furthermore, like Pinterest, you can also create a page for your business or company.
Universal Truths That Cross All Social Media Lines
No matter which social media platforms you hang your hat, there are a few fundamental truths that can be applied across the board.
Look Professional. Obviously, this depends on what kind of audience you’re trying to reach. If you’re trying to impress people in the business world, a photo of you in a t-shirt and doing the Vulcan salute is probably not a good choice.
Call Attention To Your Experience. Picture brand building as a different form of resume-writing, but in this case it’s more interesting and far less confusing (Have you ever asked advice for writing a resume? Talk about conflicting advice!). Your profile needs to prominently feature your positions, current and past, as well as any accomplishments, and that includes published works, blogs, and anything else that can bolster your case.
Show More Than One Dimension. This is where you get into a tightrope act. We’ve already established that you should look professional, but when you build your brand, there’s nothing wrong with showing a little of what interests you. In other words, call attention to your avocation as well as to your vocation. People need to know that they’re dealing with a human.
Make It Easy To Contact You. Make sure you have adequate contact information so that people can actually get a hold of you, be it by phone, email, or text. Consider it your very own version of a call to action.
Social media presents many opportunities to showcase who you are and establish yourself as a worthwhile brand. If you want to learn more, check out “4 Ways To Showcase Your Skills Through Social Media.” Good luck, and see you online!