Time to focus on Personal Branding

Personal branding 101 for most of us in the corporate world refers to our Resume, LinkedIn profile, One Page Bio and Cover Letter. The next levels would be a website or a portfolio of work, video resumes and perhaps even influencer status viz. having a certain followership on one or multiple media across digital and print. As the world pivoted to a “new normal,” in the midst of the immense human and mental toll, a change happened which reset Personal Branding also.

Cooped up in our houses, after the initial rush of Fitness, Ludo matches and MasterChef inspired meals, the days became tedious. We lapped content like never before. A study on media consumption has found that per capital daily media intake online has soared to more than 4 hours online vs nearly 1.5 hours pre COVID-19 (source: report by Mindshare and Vidooly, 2020). How do you stay relevant in this massive onslaught of content and cut through the “communication noise?”

These are my top 5 “New Normal” trends in Personal Branding which I firmly believe are here to stay and definitely evolve.

  1. Be Short: Look at the content being consumed. By far, the biggest increase has been in short entertainment content especially reels and stories. It makes sense that your Personal Branding content, both 101 and next level have to be necessarily short and impactful. Get out your editing scissors and check for superfluous words. Make sure the gist of the message is backed up with solid examples so that it gets the right oomph and is internalized by the reader.
  2. Be There: Have the Personal Branding content ready before approaching someone for a discussion. Be fast and responsive in tailoring your message. Make sure your verbal messaging is in sync with the written content. Influencers went “Live” like never before. “Death by Webinar” replaced “Death by Chocolate.” The best influencers went multi-platform. It is no longer good enough to be have a dominant presence on just one platform. LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Podcasts, Facebook and now the new app on the block, Clubhouse are overflowing with content.
  3. Be Relatable: No longer are influencers simply peddling their content or expertise areas. Most of them now make it a point to share personal snippets, human interest, topical topics or just some fun stuff once in a while. Whether it was the singer who shared his cooking videos with his characteristic “tadka” commentary or the tech influencer on twitter who injects a humorous post once in a while, the point is being relatable has increased their audience manifold. Certainly, this is a brilliant strategy. Caution for influencers – practice this as an extension of showcasing your genuine personality and don’t be afraid of trolls.
  4. Be Consistent:  Consistency has to be in both the frequency of posting and also on the positions taken and topics covered. My recommendation is to stick to a theme for the main topic when building your social profile, which is your biggest strength. Taking breaks after a period of consistent messaging is fine to rejuvenate or focus on other priorities, but inconsistent messaging can be damaging.
  5. Be Wanted: Create the anticipation. Building a buzz starts from the basic discipline of being consistent. A friend has a TGIF post every Friday. Another influencer has a daily quote. We like routines and certainty. If we relate to the content or it gets a chuckle from us, then we start waiting for the content. The beauty of social media is that you don’t need any permissions and can truly manage the narrative. There is always going to be a debate about attractiveness of promoted content vs organic growth of followers. Whichever side of the debate you subscribe to, ultimately “being wanted” is a combination of type of content and consistency.

I am often also asked what is the right career stage to commence on the next level of Personal Branding? The right answer as per me is any career stage. I have many examples of junior career professionals giving their careers a great boost with the right social media engagement. At senior and executive levels, it is almost considered de-rigueur these days to have the right google presence i.e. simply google yourself and see what comes up. Social media activity can help keep your google presence relevant and current.

So, what are you waiting for? Shed the hesitancy and jump in the new world. If you are already on the influencer path, keep an eye out for trends and the next big thing. The magic formula of consistency and pushing the envelope may just be in your hands.

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