Developing the 7 digital habits: Habit 2 – Be proactive managing your brand

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This is part 3 of a series of posts that were prompted by an article written by the Leading Edge Forum entitled The 7 Digital Habits of Highly Effective People.

In Habit 1 we looked at “Seek first to understand” and the challenge of sensing our market. Habit 2 suggests a need to “Be Proactive in terms of managing your brand.”

“My brand?” Why should I care?

The nature of work relationships is changing. Business networking used to be focused within the internal hierarchy — making sure that you knew your peers and superiors was critical to how you got things done. We now work in an era where organizational boundaries are far more porous, and we are just as likely to be involved in networks with customers, partners, suppliers and academia.

How do we build that network? How do we decide whether someone is of interest to us? How do we discover those people? We look them up on LinkedIn or perhaps Twitter, and we may even do a search and find that they have a blog or contribute to a GitHub project. If I am going to meet someone new, I regularly look that person up to see what I can understand about them.

People are projecting a brand and a reputation. Part of that brand is the organization that the person works for, but it’s only part of it. Equally important is how they describe themselves and how their internet presence reflects that description.

I recently read a tweet in which one colleague introduced two people in their network, both outside our organization, to each other. I was intrigued by this, so I clicked on one of the Twitter profiles which gave me some limited information, it also pointed me to a web site. When I clicked on the web site link the site didn’t come up, I got an error. When I clicked on the other individuals Twitter profile there was lots of information, and again a link to a web site. The web site had a professional feel to it, loading quickly and containing lots of useful information. Both individuals are technical people, and both are projecting a brand. One of those brands, however, is currently more understandable and more believable than the other.

We are all projecting a brand, whether we like it or not.

But what can I do about it?

You can influence how you are perceived, but first you need to know how you want to be perceived. This is where Digital Habit 2 comes in — “Be pro-active in terms of managing your brand.”

Do you know what your brand is? I’m not talking here about the brand of the organization you work for, but your personal brand.

Imagine that you employed a marketing company to develop a brand for you, what would it say? That may be an easy thing for some to answer, but I suspect that, for many of us, it is not an easy question. Personally, I carry around several different brands, some personal and others business, but if we focus in on your primary work-related brand, can you define it and is it meaningful? One of the best pieces of advice I was given by a marketing professional was that my job title wasn’t my brand. A brand defines what you contribute, and a job title rarely does that.

The best brands don’t need to use words for us to understand them, but I’m not Coca Cola, Amazon or Google. I’m just me and I need to use words to define myself. The brand should be short, memorable, and reflect what you contribute. In LinkedIn, which is where many people start their branding journey, you can then use these words to define your headline. Many people leave this blank which means that the first thing people see in their LinkedIn profile is their current job position, which is a missed opportunity.

Whilst we are talking LinkedIn, there’s also value in images. Your profile picture should reflect your brand which is probably not best served by a picture of you in sunglasses with a massive cocktail in your hand. The header image is also important. Further down your LinkedIn profile it’s also worth completing your summary and adding in some media links.Some people view LinkedIn as an online CV. It’s probably better to imagine it as part of your online branding platform.

People view the various social media platforms in different ways. For me, I view LinkedIn and Twitter as being more work-focused, with Facebook and Instagram being more personal-focused. My blog is a mixture, but mostly work-focused. This perspective is important from a branding viewpoint because I want to make sure that my work-focused presences align with my branding. My Twitter profile uses the same picture as my LinkedIn one. I use WordPress for my blog and that also uses the same profile picture. My LinkedIn, Twitter and blog all link to one another. My Twitter headline is the same as my LinkedIn one. My header images in Twitter and LinkedIn are different, but similar in that they both communicate my love of hiking. The header images on my blog are, again, pictures that reflect my love of hiking and the outdoors.

My hope is that when people search for me they will understand who I am and what I contribute quite quickly from the platform that they find me on.

One of the things that my ancestry has given me is a little-used name, perhaps even a unique name. That makes finding me a lot easier, but I still need to make sure that people understand the right things about me. I still need to project my brand in a way that people can understand.


Graham ChastneyGraham Chastney is a senior principal technologist in DXC. He has worked in the arena of workplace technology for over 25 years, starting as a sysprog supporting IBM DISOSS and DEC All-in-1. Latterly Graham has been working with DXC’s customers to help them understand how they exploit the changing world of workplace technology. Graham lives with his family in the United Kingdom.

Twitter: @grahamchastney

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  1. […] first to understand” and the challenge of sensing our market. Habit 2 suggests a need to “Be proactive in terms of managing your brand.” In Habit 3 we look at our need to “Sharpen the digital saw” where we take time […]

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