Personal Branding in the Digital Age. I’ve spent much of my career advocating the importance of creating a strong personal brand as a way to set oneself apart and provide the rocket fuel for a satisfying career.
A personal brand has numerous benefits.
An important “internal” benefit is that establishing what one’s personal brand is enables a process of important reflection. It forces individuals to interrogate what they want to be known for, and what their principles and goals are — too many people don’t understand these most basic of facts about themselves and so their careers lack direction. They risk simply being the pawns of circumstance. But a personal brand is also important because it acts as an effective way to signal who one is to colleagues and business partners, and what value one can add.
The question we need to be asking ourselves is how the profound changes in the business world, and society more broadly, are affecting how we build and maintain our personal brands. It’s a complex topic and one that I will explore in a series of blogs of which this is the first.
Personal Branding in the Digital Age
To begin, let’s consider first what the nature of the change we are seeing is. In a nutshell, it is the accelerated digitalisation of business processes and a more general move onto digital platforms for many of the social and business interactions that would previously have taken place in person. This process has been underway for many years, but the necessities of lockdown have accelerated it greatly—it’s clear that digital platforms make companies and individuals more resilient in the face of all emergencies.
The move online has not only prompted a drastic reduction in the amount of interpersonal contact, it has also created new forums in which we now operate. Social media has grown in importance, and platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become the ways in which we collaborate with colleagues and clients, and make new contacts. Conferences and other events are also happening online, and this trend could remain with us even when COVID recedes.
The other enormous change being driven by the wholesale digitalisation is that a great deal of the friction inherent in real life has been removed. In turn, this means that change is going to happen much faster—waves of opinion and interest sweep quickly through the digital world and, paradoxically, there is a greater expectation of conformity. How does one reconcile this with the need for one’s personal brand to reflect an individual ethos?
So is it all change? The short answer is no, but the long answer is yes. Stay with me as I explore how to build and burnish your personal brand in this shifting digital world—and why the basic principles still remain sound, albeit with a little tweak here and there.
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