The idea of “personal branding” has been around for years. However, it may feel like a relatively new phenomenon, as people are spending increasingly more time perusing and posting interesting news and personal updates across their multiple social media accounts. While everyone was still their own brand pre-LinkedIn and Facebook, it was less obvious, captured in a neat one page resume. Personal branding to the masses used to be reserved for celebrities, authors and speakers; however, with social media, everyone is truly their own brand.
Many of the points outlined in this 1997 Fast Company article (yes, 1997!) still ring true nearly 20 years later. Topics such as ‘how do you differentiate yourself from others’, ‘what’s your 15 words or less elevator pitch’ and making the point that individuals are walking brands are just some of the points that are still very relevant today; it’s just more amplified since technology is now even more so at our fingertips.
Benefits of personal branding
The benefits of personal branding for anyone from the most junior employee to a senior level executive can be significant for a company. First, it’s a free way to leverage the power of your employees in a positive light on your behalf. Think about that employee who has a polished professional headshot on LinkedIn and regularly posts as a subject matter expert on Twitter. There is not only great credibility established for the individual, but also a positive, natural association with the company that he or she works for.
Additionally, organic opportunities for the company to spread its name to a captivated audience can arise via polished personal branding. From your employees being asked to speak on prestigious panels to an increased number of new business leads. Personal branding is not so much in your face sales; if done right, it can constantly be working in the background on your behalf.
A One Day Makeover
How can an employer support employees’ personal branding efforts? Consider hiring a professional photographer and give employees the opportunity to sign up for headshots, with the expectation that they will use the photos across their social media platforms. Headshots are a great way to start employees on a path to reinventing and refreshing their personal brand, and can also be used as needed across company marketing initiatives.
Additionally, consider offering a personal branding workshop and invite someone within your network (it could even be an existing employee who is a star in this space) to share his or her best practices. This individual can share how they manage their personal brand and how someone can successfully brand themselves through a coherent and clear story. They could also lead an engaging discussion to solicit feedback and ideas from the group. A tangible takeaway could be to encourage the group to spend the next few weeks reviving their personal brand and come back together to workshop ideas and help each other.
Make the photo session and workshop part of a larger team building day at the office, order in lunch and make it fun and interactive!
Can personal branding be detrimental?
Personal branding is unavoidable; employees are already doing it whether you as an employer decide to actively find ways to support their efforts or not.
Can top notch personal branding pose a risk to the company to make an employee potentially more attractive to another company? Sure, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Supporting employees’ efforts to have a strong brand shows your commitment to employees and feeds a positive company culture.
Sometimes personal branding can go awry when individuals post a questionable message or photo on their social media channels that portrays the individual or the company they work for in a less than positive light. Consider this: Does your company have a social media policy and does it need one? According to this Entrpreneur.com article, the message is to “tread lightly.” Employers need to be mindful of freedom of speech, yet may want to consider having guidelines around an employee posting any topics specifically related to the company. Here is a sneak peek at what several large companies’ social media policies look like.
Personal branding will only continue to be amplified as your employees adopt the newest social media platforms regularly introduced into society, as additional ways to express themselves. Your employees are already their own brands; it’s up to the employer to find creative opportunities to leverage this and make it work to your company’s advantage.