Saturday, November 18, 2017
Business

Branding builds a foundation for career

RECOMMENDED READING


I expect that doctors in the delivery room will soon hoist up newborns and proclaim, "Congratulations! It's a brand!" That's the world we live in, folks. We're no longer just people — we're warm-blooded versions of Nike or Budweiser or, in my case, Breyers or Dairy Queen. Dehumanizing though it may sound, the chance to be a brand isn't such a bad thing. Particularly not for people building careers or seeking employment. It gives you control over how the world views you, which is why shortly after this column began I branded myself "America's most-beloved workplace advice columnist." (That's my brand; don't even think about stealing it!)

"Careers are really made now online, and you're going to see it more and more in the future," said Dan Schawbel, a personal branding expert and author of the upcoming book Promote Yourself: The New Art of Getting Ahead.

"Think of the online world as a global talent pool. That's where you're going to be finding people. 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. And 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 Michael Jordan or Madonna. Now you just need a decent Internet connection and a willingness to work hard, thanks to social media powerhouses LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

"Social media has become a channel by which everyone can develop a following and a platform, like celebrities but at a microlevel," Schawbel said. "We're all microcelebrities 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.

Most people looking for work know the importance of social media, particularly LinkedIn, the business networking site that recently reached 200 million registered users. But people settled into jobs often forget that the John Henderson or Jane Johnson brand isn't going to manage itself.

"Most people don't think of themselves in terms of a brand. They don't think in terms of, 'What do I need to do to be taken seriously on a site like LinkedIn?' " said J.D. Gershbein, CEO of the Chicago-based Owlish Communications and a speaker and author of the upcoming book, The LinkedIn Edge: Creating a Psychological Advantage in Social Business.

"They put up a profile and throw a few things on there and say, 'All right, let it happen.' "

Our ability to create and control our brands is a great power, but utilizing that power requires far more than creating a Twitter account and occasionally letting the world know that you're "eating a burrito." You need to bring something to the table.

Schawbel and Gershbein stressed the importance of interacting online with people in your industry: sharing links to articles; commenting on others' posts; composing your own posts on professional topics that interest you; going out of your way to help people in your networks who have questions.

These activities not only help you build a web of professional connections, they also give voice to your brand. You can define yourself far more through online activity than through the standard resume.

"You have to live the brand promise every day," Gershbein said. "A brand promise is something that evolves through the writing of a profile (on a social media site) but also through your actions. People see your LinkedIn profile, they see that posting articles, not just shamelessly self-promoting, giving other people kudos and credit. Nothing builds brands better and quicker than respect — giving it, knowing how to receive it and being in conversations that mean something."

And finding ways to stand out from all the rest.

Gershbein said you want your LinkedIn profile — and the rest of your online presence — to "position you immediately in the minds of those accessing you."

He recalled helping an accountant develop his LinkedIn profile: "He was a good guy, but he was giving me no content I could work with. Finally I said, 'Is there anything you do or interests you have or anything you've learned along the way that makes you a better business person?' He mentioned that he had run in the Chicago marathon, and I said I like the parallel between the discipline and preparation that goes with long-distance running and the effort he puts into being a tax preparer."

They wove the man's marathon interests into his profile and before long he was making better connections. "He soon had people who remembered that piece about his profile," Gershbein said. "They'd say, 'You're the marathon-runner accountant.' That's an example of personal branding. Because of that little piece in his profile, he was in front of people he normally wouldn't be."

Whether you like the idea of personal branding or not, you need to embrace it. So give it a shot — just remember that America's most-beloved workplace advice columnist is already taken.

Comments
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Updated: 6 hours ago
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Published: 11/17/17
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Published: 11/17/17
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Published: 11/17/17
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Stephanie Maisonneuve visited the walled city of Cartagena, a port city off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. She rode horseback down the city’s cobbled streets clucking past flower-filled balconies and massive, wooden arched doors. The travel enthusi...
Updated: 11 hours ago