Personal Brand Impact: Bridging the Gap

Your personal brand paints a picture and tells a story of who you are, what you stand for, and what differentiates you from everyone else. Most people have an online presence and can be found on numerous social media networking sites. Essentially, your online activity is impacting your personal brand. 

The arrival of Web 2.0 encouraged people, through social networking sites, to create online content rather than just consume it [1]

 You create online content by:

  • Passing on the information you find interesting,
  • Sharing an image, or 
  • Talking about an experience you have had with a person or business. 

Depending on the tone of the content shared, the impact on yours or someone else’s reputation, job opportunities or business sales can be positive or negative. 

Source: Pixabay

As a result of your activity on social media and other digital platforms, how you are perceived personally and professionally, and who you are in person and how you present yourself online, is becoming interwoven. 

This blog is to help you build a reliable brand that represents who you really are and bridge the gap between your online and offline activity.

How many online posts have you heard about that were not read or viewed in the way they were initially intended by the person posting?  Have you noticed that opinions and behaviour towards a person or brand mentioned online, as it is shared and commented on, can create opportunities, rewards, or reputational damage? 

I have found too many people forget the online information they create, share, or comment on is accessible to the masses, and feelings and judgments can spread virally. 

Your personal online brand can increase your chances of getting the job you want, support building your business, or have a damaging impact. 

As just one tactless post or comment can result in job loss, The Communications Council reminds social media users that: 

  • Anyone can read anything which is posted,
  • Online conduct can have personal and professional consequences, and 
  • The internet has a long memory. 

Begin now establishing a clear, consistent and authentic voice online, which is sustainable and consistent; representing your personality, brand and who you are offline [2].

Building and maintaining a strong personal brand is just as important for students, job seekers, and promotional opportunity chasers, as it is for small to large business owners and multimillion-dollar organisation CEO’s. 

A useful tool to help you discover your brand is a Venn diagram (shown below). Your authentic and unique personal voice is found at the intersection of the three circles.

The Venn diagram exercise will allow you to be more aware of your language use, messages, tone, and the impression you want to leave in the mind of others, online and in person.

Here is a checklist to bridge the gap and cultivate a good reputation, virtually and in-person:

  • Reflect on whether you are true to yourself and your beliefs in your personal and professional dealings and communications.
  • Google yourself and audit your online presence. Did you know that most children under two years of age have a digital footprint? You may be surprised at what you find. 
  • Secure a website and domain in your name, even if you are not going to use it right now.
  • Create valuable content.
  • Strategically and purposefully consider how you communicate online and offline.
  • Associate online and offline with brands and people who reflect your personal and business values.
  • Have a clear and consistent story.

My most rewarding business dealings have come from combining online and offline networking and relationship building activities. Positive momentum and stronger connections are always created when you mix it up with in-person and digital contact. For this reason, I always advise to keep it real and consistent across the board. 

Solid personal brands support the success of professional brands and vice versa. As suggested in the short video below, it has been predicted your personal brand and online presence will determine whether you get the job or people will work with you. 

Your online brand is your reputation

For everyone, now more than ever, if you are in a career or business, it is essential that your personal brand aligns with your professional brand.  If you are seeking work, make sure your online activity showcases your interests and strengths that your dream workplace would value. 

To sum up, you are in a better position to succeed, be respected, be remembered, and be recognised as a professional in your field if:

  • Your personal story supports your professional story,
  • How you show up offline and online is congruent, and
  • What you stand for in life is clear. 

 “Everything you do either strengthens or dilutes the personal brand you are trying to create.” J. Liu

After doing a personal brand audit on your social media sites, what are you going to change or improve?

[1] Kohli, Suri, & Kapoor 2015, ‘Will social media kill branding?’ Business Horizons, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 35–44, doi: 10.1016/j.bushor.2014.08.004.

[2] Freberg, K 2019, Social Media for Strategic Communication, SAGE Publications Inc, Los Angeles.