In this article, I'm going to encourage you to be selfish. I know, I know… we are an others-focused community of peeps, and I appreciate that. You spend a lot of time and TLC with and for the people and teams that you support. In this Talent Folks' Book Brief, we are going to switch our focus to ourselves. It's good for us.
In this particular post, I'll share with you three insights from William Arruda's recent release called Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age.
New to Book Briefs? Book Briefs offer talent development-specific application from business, leadership and sundry books. Not a review. Not a synopsis. Three to five bullets that you can apply to your daily TD life. In this case, we are looking at our own personal development.
As I was launching this site and spending time on self-focused work of my own, I was intrigued by the perspective of personal branding in the virtual age. Information about everything and everyone abounds in a single internet search. I want the information you are googling about me to reflect positivity and the value that I can bring you as a thought leader and colleague. I also want to remain authentic and genuine in my interactions virtually. It's important to me that peoples' experiences with me both virtually and in-person are congruent. I also wanted to challenge myself to put my brand out there with more boldness. I'm not real great at that, and I'm realizing I need to lean in there and be more confident. Arruda offers ideas on how I can do that in a way that doesn't feel overly boastful or incongruent with my values and brand.
What I also appreciated is Arruda's perspective about virtual personal branding. He shares, "We live in a relationship economy, where influencing others is essential. If your initial impression is anemic or inauthentic, you're squandering opportunities and will be left behind (p 7)." He also shares that we need to "proactively manage how [we] show up online. Like it or not, [our] Google results are quickly becoming [our] first impression (p 7)."
Why is personal branding important? Well, for fear of seeming shallow, I've found personal branding is about influencing how people perceive you. And that's key, because you want decision makers to choose you… your product, your solution, you for the job. An authentic personal brand showcases what's valuable, different or interesting about us and what we have to offer. We work hard as talent professionals. I want your bosses, customers, clients and prospects to see that about you and to proactively choose you. So, I'm encouraging you to be selfish.
Digital You reads quickly, and I used it more like a workbook and earmarked a couple of things to tackle in the future. Arruda uses a blended approach, referencing assessments, books, TED Talks and personal activities to make his points and give guidance. If you'd like perspective on why he penned this book, here's a YouTube from his channel.
Here are three areas I recommend for us Talent Folk from Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age:
#1: Uncover your brand & "Work your Quirks."
You are unique, and it's awesome that you're unique. It's time to determine exactly what makes you unique and capitalize on it. After all, "the key to successful branding is to stand out (p 29)." It's true of the brands we love to buy or the sports teams we follow - why not of ourselves?
One suggestion Arruda offers is to note the things you do day-to-day, such as emails, presentations, project tasks, whatever. Then consider how you can weave your differentiation into those tasks. Brands build over time, and this is a good way to consistently stand out and show the positive quirks that you bring to the work place.
#2: LinkedIn is not just a resume. It's the place to build a compelling virtual profile.
Arruda offers extensive advice on how to build, update and maximize a LinkedIn profile for optimal personal branding and a great first impression. He says, "LinkedIn is the place people go to learn about you (p 78)." It can be an ever-fresh document of your experience, expertise and the value that you offer. It's more than a resume, and he claims it's the best tool you can use to get your personal brand out there.
Arruda shares that there's more to just the profile basics in LinkedIn. He also provides guidance on writing articles on the LinkedIn platform and posting videos, presentations and other works. I think you'll find his guidance thorough and useful as you are looking to create, tweak or upgrade your profile.
To get you started, there are three things you can focus on in your LinkedIn profile to get you the biggest bang for your time: a professional-quality headshot, a headline that gets attention with key words and a compelling professional summary with a dash of personality.
#3: Create a team within your network
An area that Arruda is challenging me is in thinking strategically about my network. While I don't necessarily agree in networking broadly and randomly for the sake of network span (ie, if I haven't met you or interacted with you in some way, I'm not likely to accept a connection in LinkedIn nor reach out unless I have an idea to share or am asking to trade benchmarking), I am challenged to think about my current network and growing it with colleagues who can play various roles for me - from mentors to fellow talent executives to thought leaders.
Arruda recommends thinking back through past workplaces and colleagues with whom you can rekindle a connection and then into present circumstances to broaden out and strengthen existing networks. He also encourages planning ahead when attending conferences, for example. Scope out potential connections and be ready to swap cards or LinkedIn profiles with new acquaintances. I'll add my own caveat here to please be polite and respectful. Meet someone and then trade connections. Apparently the profile views on tools like LinkedIn are partially based on the span of connections. Yeah, I get that spamming invitations might seem like a great idea, but I don't know, I also want connections to be authentic and thoughtful. Old fashioned? Maybe. But I'm claiming a quirk. I want connections that matter.
Go ahead, google yourself. Then decide if personal branding is a topic that intrigues you. If so and you find yourself in need of support to tweak those google results, pick up a copy of Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age. Otherwise, I look forward to hearing about the quirks you're bringing to your workplace. Sign-up below and drop a comment.
Arruda, William. Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age. ASTD DBA the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 2019.