#WorkTrends: Building Your Personal Platform

If you work in HR, you know the importance of branding, particularly your employment brand. But what about our own personal brand?

The concept of personal branding might sound a bit uncomfortable for some, but this week’s guest, Cynthia Johnson, says personal branding really is about transforming your resume for the online age. She’s the author of the book “Platform: The Art and Science of Personal Branding,” and she joined us to give her advice on building a powerful personal brand — and why it’s important for employers to encourage their employees to do so.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

What Exactly Is Personal Branding?

“Personal branding” sounds a bit like a buzzword, but it’s not. In fact, it’s something that’s enormously useful for all of us, particularly those navigating the corporate ladder. “It’s an evolution of your resume,” Johnson says. “It’s a communication credit.”

In other words, think of personal branding as an opportunity to put yourself out there online. After all, “brands want to be people” in order to try to seem more human, Johnson says. But “humans are already human, so the branding part is pretty much done.”

What Can Companies Do to Encourage Personal Branding?

If your company gets skittish about employees posting on work-related issues then listen up, because Johnson has a stat for you: “If your employee shares information about you online, there’s a nearly 600% increase in engagement over what an influencer would have.”

That’s valuable from a marketing standpoint, and it’s no surprise that Johnson recommends that organizations encourage their employees to take charge of their personal brands. Employees can be natural advocates for their employer, and posts from employees have an authenticity to them that an influencer’s never can.

So provide guidelines — not rules — on social media etiquette to your employees. Explain how to represent the brand and what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Trust that your employees will have good judgment, but remember that you’ll have to accept that things could go awry. Odds are that they won’t if you provide the right help. “If you aren’t giving resources, tools or guidelines on how to [post on social media], that’s when you’re going to lose control,” Johnson says.

What Can You Do to Build a Personal Brand?

Of course, maybe you recognize the importance of building a personal brand but you’re not sure how to do it. You’re juggling kids, work, yoga and bunco nights — how on earth are you supposed to find the time to build a personal brand?

Well, turns out that you probably do have the time. “Look at how much screen time you spend on your phone,” Johnson says. It’s probably more than you’d like to admit, but that screen time is time you can apply to building your personal brand.

“Start small,” Johnson says. “Take down old photos that shouldn’t be there. Put a nice photo up, put your job title somewhere — just those small steps.” As you take those steps, focus on putting out information about yourself. Remember, all you’re doing is creating a new type of resume. As time goes on, you’ll begin to see the benefits. And make sure to check in periodically to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode