Online First Impressions: Communicating the Right Message
Jillian Kuhn, Former Viget
What do people think when they hear your name?
Every person, as well as every company, has a specific brand and reputation. There is a certain message you communicate about yourself through everything you say and do, and this message generates external expectations of your behavior and performance.
This is especially true online. Whether you're an individual or a conglomerate, your website, social networks, and search results all convey a certain picture of who you are. When current or potential colleagues and clients want to learn more about you, this is the picture they see. You want to make sure that everything you put online supports this brand.
As Viget's newest Project Manager, I faced a personal branding challenge right off the bat. In my first week, I was tasked with crafting my bio for the Viget.com Team page. In addition to my quirky photo shoot, I needed to carefully select and assemble the right words to communicate exactly who I am and what I do. That's a pretty important task, if you really think about it.
For many current and future clients, this is my one chance at a first impression – my golden opportunity to accurately communicate my personal brand. Though we strongly encourage face-to-face meetings, sometimes an About page or employee bio acts as the first interaction between project team and client. If I set a false expectation of myself and my role at Viget, I'll spend the rest of the relationship working to correct it.
The first step in any branding effort is to clearly define your message. Invest some time and thought into spelling out exactly what you do, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived. Make sure that you, and everyone in your organization, truly understand your greater purpose.
In planning my employee bio, I first thought about who I am, what makes me unique, and what I do for Viget and our clients. I also drew from my existing persona, conveyed through various social networks and everyday interactions. Then I wrote it all out. Translating your message into clear words and ideas is a crucial, but often overlooked, step in the process. It gives you a specific, concrete internal mission statement – something to refer to down the road, when you're so caught up in details that you forget your overarching message.
After you've completed this phase, the next step is to live your brand. Do everything in your power to truly embody your message; let it shine through in your words and actions. Remember that the higher purpose of all your activity is to support this vision.
It may sound like a lot of effort for a seemingly small return, but if you start putting this type of thought behind all your interactions, think of what you can build! I've been aware of personal branding for a while now – and at this point, almost everything I do both personally and professionally naturally aligns with this reputation. I'm getting closer to the ultimate branding goal: to know exactly what comes to mind when someone hears my name.