Personal branding – the act of building and managing your own reputation on and offline – is another increasingly critical skill in today’s hyper-connected, digital job market, whether you are a student, job-seeker, or moving up the career ladder.
What other people, especially potential employers, find online and think about you is something you will want to control and manage.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to nurture your digital footprint and build an awesome personal brand.
We have three simple steps that you should take to manage your brand. These are steps you should continue to do throughout your professional career.
Step One: Google Yourself
A first step in personal brand-building is to ask yourself a simple question: If a future employer searched for me online, what would they find?
Today’s reality is that the majority of companies will Google you before they invite you for an interview or do some kind of online search.
So it is up to you to ensure that your online presence really builds an image that will optimize your chances of landing that dream job or promotion.
Cleaning up your digital presence is pretty straightforward. Start with an audit of the social media platforms where you are active. Then put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. What skills, aptitude, and attitudes help distinguish you from the competition? What makes you stand out – for positive reasons? What might put others off?
And if you do not already have a LinkedIn or Twitter account, it is time you seriously start thinking about creating one.
Step Two: Get Social
There are manifold advantages to building and maintaining strong profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn is quite simply the world’s biggest professional network with more than 425 million active users. It is the online space where you can create a professional network, share and find information, join communities of interest, build and control your professional profile, and even find a job. As a Cisco Networking Academy student, you are also eligible to join the Networking Academy LinkedIn Group and connect with your peers and preferred employers.
Twitter is the ideal platform for news and information sharing. You can also create a professional personal brand on Twitter, tweeting about news and innovation relevant to your field, and following companies you are interested in, as well as thought leaders in industries you want to learn more about.
Key to your success in online personal brand-building is keeping a mental checklist of what and how to post and interact.
Start by thinking out a personal statement or mantra. Something that sets out what you want to be known for. What do you want others to think of when they find you? Is there a subject matter or an area that you want to be seen as expert in? What attributes are you keen to promote? What image do you want to project?
And here’s the key question: would you be happy with a future boss reading anything you post on your LinkedIn or Twitter description or posts? If in doubt, leave it out.
Remember too, social media is just that – it’ is social. So be active, interact, pursue your interests, and it is very important to remain authentic.
Step Three: Never Stop Learning
Key to being part of the conversation – whether it is on or offline – is having something to say. And that means staying informed.
Social networks and the Internet are a great way to stay connected to what is happening in your field, in the global economy, in the job market, and in the companies that interest you.
And joining professional networking groups will not only link you to peers and opportunities, but can help bridge any gaps you might have in professional experience.
The Cisco Learning Network is free to join and gives you the opportunity to bolster your personal brand as a strong tech candidate. Here you can showcase your technical skills and knowledge. You will have the opportunity to participate in debates and author white papers – demonstrating technical knowledge as well as interpersonal and writing skills, which are in high-demand from employers.
The best way to maintain a long, prosperous career is to never stop learning. Seek out professional development opportunities through relevant webcasts, Meetups, and other associations. Prove that you are a valuable resource to your present or future employer by sharing your newfound knowledge with others.
And do not forget to toot your own horn once in a while. Take the time to document your achievements so that you are always ready to update your online profile, discuss the value you bring, or could bring to your chosen organization.
Bolster your personal, professional brand and demonstrate that you are ready for the next step in your career.