I’m finally getting my head out of the sand when it comes to social media and my personal branding.
I’m in marketing, so I naturally strategize for others when it comes to their brand. But when it came to personal branding? You could say I am a bit ‘shy’.
I didn’t want to put myself out there. My work would speak for itself, right?
Personal vs. Professional Personal Branding
I would soon realize that Personal Branding is not just about what you do, but who you are as an individual. This means it must be representative of your unique qualities and beliefs.
Think of that for a moment – you know how busy your day is. There is barely enough time to fit everything you care about on your schedule. Now imagine that someone you don’t know expects you to get to know them and decide if you like them enough to do business with them.
Wouldn’t you want to know that person first? Wouldn’t you prefer they gave you a glimpse into who they are before asking for your time?
Here’s where social media comes in handy. You can get to know a person or at least their online alter ego on your own terms, whenever you have a spare minute or two.
The internet is a great tool and provides the perfect venue for building your personal brand and showcasing what you have to offer. You can connect with audiences instead of simply talking to them.
Most social media networks were simply too much work. I couldn’t see how it could be worth my while if I spent countless hours putting my life on display when I prefer to keep certain parts just for myself.
I saw it as the equivalent of throwing my business card in a massive bowl, hoping someone would fish it out and think, “This is the person I want to work with.”
But something changed. Social media became less about sharing every moment of my life and more about meeting people where they are.
Everyone’s On Social Media
Even the ones that are saying they’re not, or don’t post a lot still scroll through random posts and reels for hours a day. The global average time spent using social media platforms per day is 142 minutes in 2021.
However, creating open social media accounts meant a different mindset for me. I’ll admit, I’m a very private person and I’m still feeling a bit odd about sharing things online. It takes time to get used to it.
You might ask “How can someone be professional and personable on social media?”. I started to change the way I feel about the harsh online border between professional and personal I had created in my head. I have become very friendly with my coworkers and the casual atmosphere actually helps us work better together. After all, they’re the people I’ll be working with every day.
It’s amazing that social media allows for this type of relationship-building. In fact, determining whether or not candidates are personable enough to work in your company is something you can easily find out through their profile.
Social Media And Work
I am a startup employee. I’ve been in this ecosystem for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of changes. One of the things about emerging startups is that the teams are small and compact. People’s personalities are one of the most important factors because they will be spending more time together than with their families.
Also, the hiring process is often rushed and hectic – it makes much more sense to look at potential candidates’ profiles for a hint of what they are all about.
There is one thing I’ve noticed about the startup scene. There are different expectations for company culture depending on whether your team consists of 5 founders or 50 employees. What worked to build that small “family culture” might not work once you have 50 people in one team.
What you can do is give people a peek into what your company culture is like by sharing content on your social media about things that are important to you – this will set the tone for future interactions. It’s nice for people to get an idea of who they’ll be spending their time with, especially when they’re not working with their friends.
I started to look at social media as a way of meeting people rather than an avenue for self-expression and personal connection. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to establish a connection with someone you’ve never met.
In the past few years, I’ve been able to build relationships that have been beneficial professionally and personally. I started my job when the first wave of COVID-19 hit. More than a year passed before I got to meet most of my colleagues.
This, plus the fact that we’re a distributed team and I work from different places (love the ring that the Digital Nomad has) made us communicate entirely online. I know that a lot of people have felt somewhat disconnected the past covid years but for our team, it was just the opposite. We are super close and supportive of each other. All thanks to the trust and intimacy we built online.
I still haven’t met some of the people I’m closest to. And I know all about their lives (or the parts they decide to share) from social media. We greet each other on the weekends, discuss life events and support each other with a positive outlook. It’s basically a variation of the “co-worker” relationship that I had inside a company before.
What changed is our approach to social media – we started using it with a different mindset in mind. When you connect on this level with coworkers who you’ve never met, it’s like joining their family. That can be very powerful in a startup where you don’t have the time to hang around the cooler or grab a bite after work.
Social Media Is Fake
I think social media is a great place to start building relationships. You probably wouldn’t make the effort to get in touch with someone you’ve never met before (for example, people you see around at meetups) but by connecting on social media you can get an idea of who they are and if their personality matches your expectations.
And yes, I’m fully aware of the “social media is fake” trend. And no, I don’t expect to see someone having an emotional breakdown online, or telling all about their problems and struggles. This doesn’t make it fake in any way.
I try to think of people’s online personalities as the version of themselves they want to be. The parts of their life they want to show. It’s informative and interesting, yet not too intimidating and personal. The only thing that matters is the quality of interactions you have with people, not whether they are IRL or online friends.
As for me, I prefer to keep my online and personal lives separate. There are still few people that know about my blog (shh) but otherwise, it’s all business. But hey, if I ever decide to start writing about my mom’s favorite recipe, you’ll be the first to know!
There is a big difference between sharing articles and my thoughts on different topics or sharing pictures of my life, environment, vacations, and the things that I like. I want my online presence to be a reflection of my interests and the person I am, but without giving too much control. This is not something that’s easy to do in our current social media landscape. It takes time, energy, and effort to manage your online persona, which is why it isn’t for everyone – just like meeting people offline isn’t for everyone.
I’m still learning and navigating this space, but I definitely see the benefits of using your online presence to bring people closer (and I believe that’s what social media was originally intended for). Connecting with others is a much more rewarding experience than just sharing information and it has made me feel empowered in my job and life. The line between personal and professional is very blurred for me. And I love it that way. It gives me the freedom to choose my scenery and plan my days better. However, I’m still trying to figure out for myself and decide which parts of my daily life can go online.
I’ve met some amazing people through social media who have invited me to join conferences or asked me to contribute my opinion on things that I would have never done without them, and all this turned out to be a wonderful learning experience for me. And my blog made me realize that sharing your work online is the best thing you can do to connect with like-minded people and make new connections. So I’m grateful for that.
Final Thoughts And Some Tips
I would encourage everyone to try and find their own balance with social media, experiment and see how it can help you grow. Embrace change and don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.
What matters is putting yourself out there and being open to new connections. Being on social media is not some kind of punishment or something you have to do in order to keep up with the times – it’s just the natural consequence of being part of our digital world.
If you think of social media as a business card, then imagine having the opportunity to get to know someone before giving them yours.
And The Tips
You can use one of these platforms’ search functions to find people in your industry or related fields, follow them and see what they share. You don’t have to be friends with them or follow their every move. Just get the lay of the land and see what they are sharing.
You can also search hashtags related to your field, join a conversation and engage. This way you’re showing people that you’re interested in what’s going on around you and that you’re approachable enough not to come off like a bot.
When it comes to personal branding, you need to keep in mind that no one wants to follow someone who is overly promotional, full of themselves, or tedious. Tell people what you’re interested in and what makes your life tick. Show them the person behind the brand. Share your personality and all those wonderful quirks that make you, well, unique.
And once you open yourself up to the world and start sharing your thoughts – people will share theirs with you as well. Social media isn’t just about what you have to say but also how those around you interact with each other and their environment. Actively engage with people who share a common interest with you and who you think are interesting. Reply to their comments, share what they’ve shared with others, and comment on their posts to show that you’re interested in what’s going on around you.
Think of social media as a reality show – the things you put online stay there forever so don’t say anything too personal or confidential.
You want to be witty, interesting, and fun – not crazy or offensive.
With all that being said, it’s important to remember that there are no set rules when it comes to social media. There are no real boundaries. What matters is figuring out what works for you.
Do you like sharing personal stuff with the world? Do it. Are you shy about your thoughts and opinions? Try talking anonymously until you get used to it.
If the thought of sharing something on social media makes you want to crawl under a blanket, don’t share it.
And lastly, remember that having an online presence is not necessarily the same as being someone’s friend or becoming part of their personal life. Don’t take it personally when someone isn’t interacting with you the way you wish they would.
Sometimes all it takes is for you to go “Hey, I like your stuff.” to show that you’re interested in someone and that you care.
So if this is your first time venturing into the world of social media then good luck! And don’t forget to have fun with it because, well, it’s meant to be a shared experience after all…
If anyone has any other helpful tips please share! And you’re more than welcome to join my personal venture into the social media sphere 🙂