Before the Internet, when Gatorade advertised itself as “energizing,” or when Folgers claimed to have “better flavor,” there was nowhere to easily verify these claims aside from people you knew personally, and even they might only know as much as you did. Occasionally there might be a story on the 6 o’clock news about a product, but they were rare and if you missed in then you’d never hear about what was said again unless somebody told you by the water cooler the next day at work.
In today’s media world, a simple Google search will help you determine if the claims in an advertisement hold up when consumers actually try the product. This gives consumers the power to verify claims that companies make, and also gives third parties the power to have a significant influence over companies’ branding. More recently, this has become true with personal branding since information about individuals, including you, is readily available online and can be found with a simple search for the individual’s name (add a few personal details if you have a common name) on one of many search engines.
Personal branding: More voices
The Internet has allowed potential employers and clients the ability to learn about you and form a perception about you before you even walk in the door. They have the ability to look you up on a search engine and hear what other people have to say about you. While hiring a private eye in the old days was expensive and rarely done for every single potential employee, employers now can easily find out what they want to know about you and not spend a single penny.
This has caused a lot of fear among recent college graduates that they will be punished for publicly displaying things they did in college, such as drinking at parties, and rightfully so! Three quarters of employers look up potential employees on the Internet so employers who don’t remember doing those sorts of things when they were young might be less willing to hire somebody who publicly displays those activities on their Facebook profile.
Technology has both made your personal brand more important because it’s easier for people to find out about you, but it’s also made it easier to control your personal brand and use it to your advantage:
Get in the driver’s seat
The advent of social media has given people the power to take control of what others can find about them online, and thus how others perceive them. Consider Facebook profiles: They’re are probably the number one thing that employers look at when they search for you online, and you have almost complete control over what employers can see.
Control your social media profiles
For a while now, Facebook has allowed people to choose what people who aren’t their friends can see. This gives people greater control in what others think and see about them, and what others think about how people view themselves. Hiding your entire profile can actually be counter-productive since you miss an opportunity to show your employer that you’re a professional adult who takes yourself seriously. Choose a good profile picture and make it so they can only see that!
This is a guest post by Murray Newlands. Murray is the CEO and Founder of Influence People, a San Francisco-based online marketing and blogger outreach consulting firm. Jim Kukral and Murray Newlands recently wrote What is Personal Branding? How to Create a Memorable & Powerful Brand that Sells YOU! to help people learn how to market themselves.