Jeff Bezos has said that “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” In other words, it’s what the internet says about you when you’re not paying attention.
In previous issues, we discussed three components of your personal brand: a good headshot, a professional business card and a relevant website. These components support the most important part: the narrative you create about yourself and how you represent it.
For an overview of how you’re presenting your personal brand, google yourself. Make a list of the places you appear, whether the impression is positive or negative, and where the information is outdated (including old headshots). Divide the list into sites where you control the content and ones where you don’t.
Start updating your online presence by crafting a short biography that can appear on multiple platforms. It should be about 150 words and include your title and professional designations, career highlights, advanced degrees, significant achievements and honours, and any publications or speaking gigs.
Summarize your main areas of expertise and your philosophy. A short anecdote will personalize your description; so will including relevant extracurricular activities. Clients and prospects may not care if you’re an avid gardener, but they’ll be interested to know that you sit on the board of a conservation trust or spend time volunteering at the local community garden.
Run the bio by a few trusted contacts for their feedback, and by someone who can check spelling and grammar.
Once you’ve polished your bio, use it to prepare your elevator speech—a spoken version of who you are and what you represent. Practise it until you can express it in different ways in under two minutes. This short description should be consistent with other elements of your personal brand, including how and where you receive clients, how you choose to dress and, in some cases, the products you recommend.
Next, return to your website list (including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and replace your bio and any old photos with your current headshot. If these appear on sites such as news publications you’ve contributed to or industry organizations, send your new text and photo, and request that the site administrator update them.
Schedule two hours every year to repeat these steps, and rest easy knowing you’re in control of your own story.