I am not sure exactly when personal brand building became the powerful force it is today, but I do know that the growth in social media coupled with consumers love of smart phones and PDA’s (not sure which fueled which) gave everyone a no-cost way to create and build their own personal brand.
Creating and maintaining a strong personal digital presence has become an important priority for lots of people for all kinds of reasons. If you are looking for that next job, have an expertise that others might value, are involved in things or have interests that might connect you to new and also interesting people, you should think about and carefully shape and nurture your personal brand. On the other hand, if all you want is attention, be forewarned that you might get what you seek but at a cost you may not have understood.
For all of us in the nonprofit arena, it is especially important to think carefully about the image we present and be cautious about how that presence is communicated in the very public and open digital space. While personal branding is, by definition, personal, it is also a reflection on the nonprofit that either employs you or counts on you for leadership and support.
A few tips on how to build your personal brand so that it supports your goals, conveys the right image and does no harm to either you or your nonprofit.
First, before you tweet and/or use one of the geolocation apps (Foursquare.com) that communicate your physical location, stop and ask yourself, “Do I really want everyone to know that I am sitting at a Starbucks with friends at 3 pm on a workday when maybe I should be at my desk?” After all, while it might seem innocent to let your friends know what you are up to , you may also be tagging yourself a slacker.
You really need to spend think-time when brand-building. Consider your goals, who you are trying to influence, who might see your brand efforts, and how each of your brand activities adds value or doesn’t and be prepared to pull your fingers off the keypad for a few minutes. While personal branding may connect you to someone who can then connect you to someone else who can get you that important job interview, your brand can and will also make public lots of other information about you that you may not want others to know.
So, think of yourself as a valuable commodity worth protecting and like Google or Microsoft or Coca Cola, manage your brand like the smart, responsible person you want us to believe you are.