When I speak with students and professionals about personal branding, the point of authenticity usually comes up. For instance, one graduate student asked me this month, “But if all we post are positive messages and strategic images, isn’t that being fake?” It was a good question and and understandable concern. First and foremost, personal branding is all about being YOU. There is no one else like you on this entire planet. Leveraging your unique value propositions, just as a global brand would, is the best way to promote your personal brand. Just as global brands and some of the most famous personal brands work to define their image and present themselves in a positive light, so should any individual.
In this digital age, everything you post online – from pictures, to messages, to comments on a blog – leaves a digital footprint. Nothing – NOTHING – is private online. Out of context, that one drunken photo or that nasty gossip session in the Facebook group, can easily become a determining factor in your next career move. Most companies are looking at your skills and ability, but also to see if there is anything that makes you a liability to their organization. If they hire you, you are a representative of their brand. If you cannot make the effort to manage your own brand, why should they believe you will exemplify theirs? Personal branding is not about creating a squeaky clean and false representation of you. Personal branding is the art of highlighting all the qualities and characteristics which make you awesome, unique and special – YOU. Social media provides tremendous opportunities to let the world know who you are, to connect directly with your audience and to build your brand.