Professionals are using search engines like Google and Bing; social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter; and informational sites like Pipl and 123People to learn about your company, your products and services, and even you. Thus, every executive, professional, board member and business owner needs to actively manage his or her online personal brand.
No matter what you call it—a personal brand, your elevator pitch, your unique selling proposition, or your reputation—your personal brand must resonate with clients, customers, colleagues, referral sources, the media and the community. Executive branding is about thought leadership, communication and public relations for yourself and your company. Whenever you speak or post comments online, your communications are intertwined with your company’s brand. You are your company.
In fact, 80.6 percent of employees believe social media is an important communication channel for CEOs to improve relationships with clients/customers, employees, community leaders and even shareholders, according to BRANDfog’s “2013 CEO, Social Media and Leadership Survey.” Eighty-four percent of employees also believe a social CEO increases brand loyalty. Overall, social CEOs have a stronger personal brand and are seen as more effective leaders.
So, what is your brand today? Do a little ego surfing by searching for your name using a search engine and LinkedIn. First, look to see if there is more than one person with your name. If so, you will need to battle for space on the first page of Google and Bing by widening your online presence through blog posts or even a free mini-me site such as about.me.
As an executive, your brand and your company’s brand are commingled. To determine how closely you are connected to your company’s brand, perform the following searches for your name plus:
- Your company’s name
- A recent earnings announcement or press release
- Local, regional or national newspapers or publications
- Recent philanthropic activities associated with your company
From these findings, determine if you are presenting yourself as a leader with solid values, principles and a mission; sharing information relevant to your target markets; maintaining a positive presence and truly living your brand by providing information about your company. The key is to communicate and be transparent in those communications. As a leader, you have the power to help or hurt your company’s reputation and bottom line.
Once you have uncovered your online reputation, realize that is something you need to manage and develop. When evolving your personal brand, stay true to yourself and to your company. The first step is to form a solid foundation by honestly answering the following questions.
- How do your clients/customers, employees, partners and the community see you today?
- How does your current online profile differ from your in-person reputation?
- How are you different from others in your profession?
- How can you help your company?
Overall, your personal brand should include your strengths, values and why others should work with you. An effective personal brand accurately promises what you can deliver and differentiates you from others in the same line of work or with similar experiences and knowledge. Plus, it helps your company sell its services or products.