personal branding

Across the internet, I see people talking about building a personal brand. While a personal brand can be a useful tool in building relationships, it can also go south pretty quickly if you are not doing it correctly.

Do you have friends with new hobbies, new relationships, and new experiences who can’t stop using social media to talk about it? Do you have that one friend who just found Jesus and wants to save everyone even though he went 38 years without caring about your soul? Do you know someone who is newly promoted, newly pregnant, or newly divorced and on a personal journey for truth and can’t shut up about it on Twitter?

So exhausting. But it’s also very common.

You already have a personal brand, whether you realize it or not. The question is, are you going to take charge of it? You may not realize it, but you are engaged in an act of “personal branding” every time you use social media to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and preferences. 

Personal branding is revealed in the quiet moments. It is not the header image on your LinkedIn profile or the bio you wrote on Twitter. Your true personal brand comes out in the things you retweet, the comments you leave on a post, and the content you interact with.

You don’t have to engage in an obnoxious, one-way blast to your “followers.” You don’t have to start every conversation with an anecdote about yourself. But you can use the principles of branding to advance your career — and your life — while meeting cool, new people.

If you’re looking for an expert on how to craft your personal brand, you should check out what my friend Jennifer McClure has to say. And if you’re hoping to maintain your personal brand and professional reputation online, you should follow six guidelines wherever you interact on social media. 


Helpful Guidelines For Maintaining Your Personal Brand Online

  1. Be kind. I like to follow this rule: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Sure it sounds like something you have to tell a five-year-old, but there’s still an inner child in all of us that needs to be reminded from time to time.
  2. Talk about things that excite you, but don’t let those topics consume you. It’s a bad idea to be one-dimensional about anything. If you have an interest, share it with your followers! But don’t shove it in their face every chance you get. 
  3. Follow my Three Wendy rule. Before you post anything (a comment, photo, article, etc.), ask yourself what three of your top followers would think about what you’re about to post. You don’t always need to post something they would like, but taking a moment to pause before posting something for the world to see reduces your chances of future regret.
  4. Act like everyone is watching. Because they are.  It might feel like a private conversation, but you have no idea whose eyes will see your messages. Recruiters, your boss, your grandma, your kids … once you post online, it’s public.
  5. Be authentic. Your personal brand can include your professional interests, your hobbies, your favorite music, or whatever else makes you, you! Even on a professional platform like LinkedIn, you can own the quirks that make you unique while remaining professional.
  6. Keep some things private. People on the internet don’t need to know everything about you. Don’t feel pressured to share your personal life if you don’t want to. Oversharing is so 2009. So pick things you’re proud, passionate, or excited about to share, and keep the rest to yourself.