You’re not a Product: But You are Your Presence

June 28, 2010 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Here is the article I contributed to the May 2010 issue of Dan Schawbel’s “Personal Branding Magazine” entitled: “You’re not a Product: But You are Your Presence”:

Are people products when it comes to branding? The answer is somewhat complex. When we expect companies to become more “human” we often forget just how inconsistent humans are. We can be overwhelming responsible overall and still act like fools on occasion. Yet, when it comes to a public image – especially online, first impressions do matter. Likewise, our continued online presence has a strong bearing on our business: who we are affects who responds to us – and how they respond. You don’t need to be a walking slogan, but should be aware of perceptions.

The web already includes facets of you: mentions about what you do and images from gatherings, to name just a few. Social Media can you help represent yourself optimally. Take Twitter for example, where you’re able to prove yourself as an expert in your field, while simultaneously conveying the person behind the work. You’re already endearing, right? So leverage that fully.

Firstly, take control of your Twitter background and make it as evocative of your personal/business front. (And unless your business caters to fly-vision don’t tile the background with an image.) Include your url and have your bio describe what you want to be recognized for/as. Know that you can only be seen to be so many things. I know someone whose business card has at least 12 distinct professions including “Pilot”, “Film Director” and “Psychic”. It makes him seem sub-par at all. Such is the case when a bio includes “Doctor, Real Estate Agent, Career Coach”. What are the key things you do? Just like a first date, no one expects (or wants) to know everything right off the bat.

And when you tweet, don’t always be “on message”. Someone who only talks about business – especially his business – is a dull fellow indeed. Who are you after work? Again, you don’t have to be too revealing but do let people in on your interests. You don’t want to give the impression that you wear a tie in your leisure time and mumble “I can increase your sales with just one click “in your sleep.

Of course, you’re there to make friends and influence people, so be sure to answer questions, offer advice, help people and share valuable information. The beauty is that you don’t have to shill yourself: by virtue of participating in these ways, you showcase your expertise.

And always be mindful of what you say. In real life, your interactions have social cues and a greater context, so every comment matters less. It’s worth checking how your Twitter posts (as well as status updates on other sites, post comments etc.) appear when read in succession. Do you frequently complain or use negative phrasing? Looking at the content objectively, what would you surmise about this person?

A person isn’t really a product. But if you optimize your web presence you might find yourself selling yourself – without needing to hard sell.

Note: Now online – video of my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice”.
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Interview with Pourhouse about their Twitter Strategy Tell Them – “It Gets Better”.

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