I expect that doctors in the delivery room will soon hold up newborns and shout, “Congratulations! It’s a brand!“
That’s the world we live in. We’re no longer just people — we’re warm-blooded versions of Nike or Burberry’s.
Dehumanizing though it may sound, being a brand isn’t such a bad thing. Particularly not for people building careers or new businesses, establishing themselves in the market. It gives you control over how the world views you. Careers and the next-big-thing are really made online and you’re going to see it more and more in the future.
Think of the online world as a global talent pool. If you don’t exist in that pool — having your own website, being on the top social networking sites — then you can’t compete in that pool. Once you’re in the pool, you have to constantly manage that presence. It should be part of your daily routine, part of your career.
There was a time not long ago when turning an individual into a brand required a team of publicists and marketing experts. You had to be a Madonna to justify that. Thanks to social media powerhouses YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, now all you need is a good Internet connection and a willingness to work hard. Social media has become a channel by which everyone can develop a following and a platform, like celebrities but at a micro level. We’re all micro-celebrities now. We’re famous to a certain number of people. It’s free, for just the cost of your time and it’s beneficial, regardless of where you are in your career or at what stage your company is.
Our ability to create and control our brands is a great power, but harnessing that power requires far more than creating a Twitter account and occasionally letting the world know that you’re “eating a pastie” or simply say “buy our stuff.” You need to bring something to the table.
The importance of interacting online with people in your industry cannot be stressed enough: sharing links to articles; commenting on others’ posts; composing your own posts on professional topics; going out of your way to help people in your networks who have questions and above all, making your peers and customers happy. In short be a giver. ‘Give to gain’ must be your life motto.
These activities not only help you build a web of professional connections, they also give voice to your brand. You can define your self far more through online activity than through the standard CV or brochure.
Whether you like the idea of personal branding or not, you need to embrace it. So give it a shot — just remember that we are here to guide you.