professional brand management – lessons from the jersey shore

Not everyone from Jersey is a “guido” or a “guidette,” but the Jersey Shore’s small cast of eight have created personal brands so strong and pervasive, that they have completely defined the way the public views New Jersey.

Consider your personal brand. How does it reflect upon your business or organization? This consideration holds even more relevance for those in a b2b or business development leadership role. Does your personal brand add to or detract from that of the organization attempts to represent? What new benefits does your personal professional brand imply you bring to new clients or business partners? What risks? Does your online identity say that you are a bright, goal-oriented brand advocate or just another fist-pumping juice-head?

Selling yourself and your business in person is one thing, but these days you must also sell yourself and the work you do online. Let’s face it – in 2011, if you don’t exist online, you don’t exist anywhere.

Now more than ever, decision makers turn to search engines and social networks first to recommend potential new business partners. Online presence and content will often factor into discussion about whether or not your organization could become a valuable representative, partner or supplier. Online credibility tempts potential clients and partners toward your business while a non-existent or sloppily maintained social media presence can deter new prospects away from your business. Understanding how to effectively use social networking platforms will help you gain visibility, credibility and new revenue whether you represent just yourself or the entire state of Jersey.

what’s worth the effort?

With so many social networking platforms freely available, knowing which ones to use and how to do so effectively can get tricky. Review the conversation styles and etiquette of each platform and dialogue proactively. One thing the Jersey Shore can teach you about professional reputation management is that you’ve got to stay vocal and you’ve got to promote a consistent image for it to resonate in the long-term:

  • Facebook: Create your own Facebook fan page. Your business should already have one, but if it’s getting too difficult for you to separate your professional identity from your personal one a fan page is a great idea for your personal professional brand. A fan page creates a more communal space for followers and fans and typically encourages more commonly relevant, professional dialogues. Fan pages also give you the freedom to promote your personal service line as a less corporate entity and using an unlimited friend count.
  • LinkedIn: While many critique LinkedIn as slow and weighty, there’s no denying its use as a credibility recommendation and experience verification tool. It facilitates resource sharing and offers tools such as “Answers” to help users self-promote to industry contacts and draw traffic toward their website.
  • Quora: The social networking site Quora performs double duty as a professional search engine and an engagement platform. When you register with Quora, you instantly gain access to thousands of industry experts, streamlining reliable professional networking and research. Promote your personal and business platform on Quora by interacting with others who ask questions about topics you know about. Submit your responses and post links to your online profile or business’ website to keep your whole professional digital brand platform connected.
  • StumbleUpon: Do you Stumble? Chances are that if you haven’t, you have friends, family or coworkers who have. In 2010, StumbleUpon ranked globally as the number two social media network, beat out only by Facebook. When users “stumble” an interest-based search engine transports them to sites that match topics they declare on their online StumbleUpon profile. Although StumbleUpon selects new sites and blog posts based primarily off of other Stumblers’ ratings, suggesting your profile, blog or business website will increase your likelihood of getting stumbled.
  • Twitter: Whether you represent yourself as a brand or a large organization, using Twitter correctly can give you visibility and personal stock value. However, take care – you must carefully monitor Twitter and illicit true engagement, or risk looking like a spammer and end up losing followers more quickly than you can gain them. Follow others in your industry and hold genuine online dialogues with them. Use hash tags and links thoughtfully to tie your conversations back to your own research, business and profile. Twitter’s platform keeps you in the game, but the relevance, professionalism and relatability of your content will make or break your Twitter reputation.
  • Vizibility: In the world’s multi-billion person population chances are, at least one other person shares your name. To prevent potentially disastrous Google background checks for your business, professionals have begun to distinguish their online profile through proactive, technological tools like Vizibility. Vizibility allows professionals to request a customized Google search results page link, organized to deliver only the content most relevant to YOU and your professional brand. They also supply you with an original QR code that you can integrate onto your website, business card or resume.

working the networks

The unique benefits you and your business bring to your industry and clients should form the foundation of your professional social media strategy. Your connections and conversations should form the framework. Thoughtfully choose which platforms offer the most beneficial reach and information distribution network.

Enhancing your professional brand through social media requires a goal-oriented perspective. Tailor your online identity and promotion strategies carefully, constantly mindful of the end result you hope to achieve. If you hope to become the next Situation, great, promote your over the top, “gorilla” qualities and you’ll have it made. If you’re trying to become the next expert on human resource development, interact with industry leaders, new and seasoned job searchers and share the e-savvy, HR specialties of your organization.

Effective reputation management and professional brand promotion is a full time job. You must constantly monitor your mentions, messages and feedback and respond in a timely, invested manner. If you cannot fully manage your social media brand efforts, consider working with a social media partner with the know-how and time available to make your brand a valuable contributor to that of your business. Your reputation is your greatest asset, so handle it with care.

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