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March 26, 2012
Personal Branding and Your Career: Get Digital
When it comes to personal branding in the digital age, Ellen DeGeneres comes to mind. Recently on her talk show she showed extremely embarrassing photos from several audience members Facebook pages. The chosen few were extremely good-natured, and received cameras in exchange for their nationally televised embarrassment. But this idea goes much further than their 15 minutes. If these Facebook photos are accessible to production assistants on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, they are accessible to your boss as well.

The idea of personal branding in the digital age can be convoluted or extremely simple. Some have a difficult time determining the best way to brand themselves on networks such as LinkedIn to receive the highest possible responses in terms of search. Or, some may be passive followers, currently inactive, off-line, hidden, or with customized privacy settings.

Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get out there because the world is turning digital at an accelerating pace. Jobs are no longer just applied for on company websites, but via networks like LinkedIn and even Twitter.

Backspace and Delete
It’s no longer the case that personal branding is solely considered a celebrity endeavor. Your branding ability is fluid; nothing is concrete when keys like Delete and Backspace are in your life. Personal branding is self-marketing and must be considered a necessary step. A strong personal brand has the ability to turn perceptions. You should make sure that what you put out digitally is representative of not only the job you currently have, but also the one that you hope to have in the future. And, if it’s not, figure out a better way to publicize yourself.

You should own your personal brand. Don’t apologize for it. Stand strongly behind it. Be a steward and ambassador for your own name. While many may not agree with some of Kate Moss’s choices, no one can discount the fact that she stood behind her brand, and as a result was supported by many industry leaders for acknowledging her mistakes and moving forward, rather than succumbing to the media.

From Visibility to Thought Leadership
With this visibility comes the necessity to become a thought leader and change agent. If your ideas are published out there, you’ll be able to capitalize on them by using the media to fit your own agenda and enhance the marketing efforts for whatever brand you’re working on, whether it’s for your company, yourself, or for the betterment of both.

Have a presence and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Your brand can connect online without embarrassing connotations or associations. The March edition of Vogue exemplified this perfectly in the article “The Women of Twitter.” Katie Jacobs Stanton, Twitter’s VP of International Strategy, said of Twitter: “We want to build our business in a way that makes us proud...If it means that we have to start censoring people’s tweets, that violates a core ethos of our company. While it might help us get more users in China, it would ruin what we’re about. Whether it’s something as dark as Osama bin Laden’s assassination or as playful and wonderful as the Oscars, you join with the world to experience that together.”

There is a hook to knowing that you’re connected to millions of people in an instant. How much involvement you want is up to you and your own personal brand, but it’s still necessary to stand at the helm. The world is waiting, after all.

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A founding member of Martens & Heads!, Kate Benson brings more than 15 years of industry experience and executive search expertise. She focuses on senior-level placements within the lifestyle practice and specializes in general management, sales, marketing, human resources, and operations. Her clients include global iconic brands as well as entrepreneurial startups.

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