During a trip to Peru this summer, I met a peculiar young man named Ryan Coelho. He was a “brand guy” who told me that each person is a brand. From our conversation, I took away this: a person’s name represents who that person is- what makes him/her special and unique.
The idea that people are brands has been around for quite a while. In 1997 Fast Company dedicated a feature story to A Brand Called You. Personal Branding has its own Wiki page. Examples of how to brand people are present all over the Internet.
This goes straight to my subject today. In the Digital Age, you can find out a lot of information about pretty much anyone. Whether the person knows it or not, that available information is “branding” them. Each individual, then, should be actively managing his/her brand online. Some people think that limiting their presence on social media will help to manage the personal brand, but to these people I give the warning:
A person’s online image doesn’t solely depend on what he/she publishes, but also depends on what others publish about him/her. The point is you can’t control what others say about you, no matter if it is positive or negative. Articles, videos, pictures posted by friends and comments about an event or a relationship may all be available online about you even if you are trying to be low-key on “social-media.” I believe that each person is better off to publish information to help control his/her online personal brand. But what information should be published?
To me the best question to ask is: “If an employer was to “Google” your name, what image would I want to portray? What type of information would I want accessible?” Odds are if you are a young adult who is not actively posting professional information about yourself, information about your social life will come up. For those students who are soon looking for a job, it would be a lot better to have professional information posted.
Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn has an interesting quote about social media sites: “MySpace is the Bar, Facebook the Backyard BBQ, and LinkedIn the Office.” I agree with his point that each media has its own interests and not all social media are beneficial to your professional future. Limiting your digital presence is your choice, but I suggest, do yourself a favor and build your online brand online.
Do you agree with my arguments? Have you started to personally brand yourself online?