Tips for Taking Charge of Your Personal ‘Brand’ for Greater Success
Back in the old days – some 15 years ago, when the Internet was so new that people in chat rooms actually asked each other about the weather and the now ubiquitous and ever-rude “trolls” hadn’t yet come out of their caves – the phrase “being online” meant you were surfing the Web. Simply put, you were using this new, incredibly powerful technical tool to communicate and connect with the world.
These days, that phrase takes on a whole new meaning. “Being online” indicates a part of you literally resides on the Web, where you can create and cultivate your image online and permit "24/7 access" to just about anyone – strangers, friends and family alike – thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. Perhaps you’ve already plumbed the depths of the Web a bit deeper, connecting to services like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Delicious, or any number of social-but-more-intellectual sites out there. (And there are millions upon millions, so we won’t even attempt to name but a handful here.)
What an exciting time to be alive – and part of the technical revolution of mankind, right? And yet, as savvy Phi Sigma Sigma sisters, we need and want to come to terms with the “Wild West” aspect of this time, too – and the fact that there are very real risks associated with living your life online, in the virtual world. Even when you’re careful. Even when you’ve done everything right, and worked hard to keep your online image “clean” and consistent with the forthright, moral, decent person you truly are.
Actively monitor, manage your image
Now more than ever, your online image – good or bad – influences people's perceptions about you. It can help or harm your chances for a new job, boost or hamper your Phi Sig networking opportunities, impact relationships you enjoy at work and in the community, and even affect your family in ways you never imagined.
To help you manage your online image and limit any possible risks, use these four tips to take charge of your personal "brand" today and enjoy even greater success as a woman, mother, community leader, professional and Phi Sigma Sigma sister:
Assess your current image and decide what it says about you. Go on, Google yourself. See what you can find. (In most cases, it probably won’t be much – perhaps one of your Web pages, or maybe a reference to a newspaper article where your name was mentioned.) Be sure to critique your social networking pages, individually and as a larger statement of your personality, character and potential. If you were someone else reviewing your status updates and photos for the first time, what impression would you have about yourself, truly? Would it match the person you know yourself to be? If not, you may want to do a little editing to synch up your real-life and online images.
Be smart about where, and what, you post online. For example, you may want to limit your social networking sites to just a few so you can keep an eye on content, photos, comments and the like. Remember: The more places you post online, the greater the chances you won’t be able to keep track of the ways people are interacting with you or impacting your image. Also, be sure to update your image regularly. Otherwise, how will people have the most current, accurate impression of you, your views and accomplishments?
Jealously guard your image. This means if someone you know, or don’t know, has posted a photo or information about you that you object to, you need to take a very active role in getting it removed – pronto. Start by politely approaching the person (who could be a friend or family member) and letting him or her know you’re concerned. If that doesn’t work, consider going to the service provider, and asking them to remove the item (noting that you didn’t authorize its placement and find it objectionable). In extreme cases, you may have to enlist the help of a mediator. Just don’t back down – and don’t give up. Like your good reputation, your good image is worth fighting to protect.
Seek ways to promote the best of yourself, thereby enhancing your image. Studies show that while more than 70% of employers vet your online image when considering you for a job, more than 80% will view you even more favorably if what they find is positive and promotes all that’s wonderful about you! So be sure to post items that show your commitment to philanthropy, mentoring, excellence, and any of the values we Phi Sigma Sigmas especially cherish (lifelong learning, inclusiveness and leadership through service). By continually documenting your positive activities, traits and achievements, you'll increase the chances people will find and see that image - your true image. Let it shine through for you!
HELPFUL HINT: If you’re already logged into LinkedIn.com, be sure to find our group, “Phi Sigma Sigma, Inc.” – and identify yourself as a lifelong sister. It’s yet another great way to network and make the most of our sisterhood and your online image!