In Part 1, I shared four personal branding trends for 2014. Here are the final four. Understanding these trends will help you to strategize ways of harnessing them to enhance your brand and expand your success.
5. LinkedIn Profiles—From Employment Line to Branding Lifeline
Virtually every personal branding keynote and workshop I delivered in 2013 included LinkedIn content, and almost one-third were devoted to LinkedIn. That was not my doing; it was requested by my corporate clients.
The corporate mindset about LinkedIn has shifted from "this is a job search/hiring tool" to "LinkedIn is a valuable branding tool for my company, and I need my employees to take it seriously." I have some clients who are investing time and talent in helping their employees build stellar profiles and learn how to use LinkedIn to do their jobs better.
As a marketer, you can see the potential of having every employee following your LinkedIn company page and sharing your updates. Take the lead this year. Build a program to get all your employees on LinkedIn, and work with them to amplify your marketing communications.
In addition, thanks to the vast feature enhancements LinkedIn rolled out in 2013, the site is quickly becoming the hub of your online identity—sometimes outpacing the impact of your personal website. Your LinkedIn profile often shows up first in a Google search, so it's likely the first place people visit to learn about you. And it allows you to build a truly three-dimensional profile of who you are, complete with images and embedded videos.
6. Mobile—From Desktop to Handheld
Your personal branding activities are becoming easier to do on the fly. That's because more and more mobile apps make it easy for you to build your brand on the go. In the coming year, more of us will spend more of our brand-building time with our mobile apps than with an old-fashioned browser on a desktop computer. In fact, many of us don't even have a conventional desk anymore.
Here are just a few of the most valuable and user-friendly apps available today:
- LinkedIn Contacts gives you a way to bring together your contacts that are spread across address books, email accounts, and calendar apps.
- Lunchmeet helps you find geographically appropriate contacts so you can expand your network over lunch.
- VideoBIO lets you record video from your iPad or iPhone, edit it, and share it via Twitter, Facebook or email.
- UStream Live Broadcaster lets you broadcast yourself in real-time.
Find the apps that make personal branding easy to do as part of your regular routine.
7. Online Content—From Create to Curate
When social media became hot, it seemed as if every career-minded professional started his or her own media channel. PR professionals and marketers were among the first to jump in. "I must have a Blog," many thought. They set out to build their own content machine—creating original content—even if they didn't enjoy writing or have much to say.
That has gotten old. The Blog has become another mouth to feed—one more item to maintain on a seemingly bottomless "to-do" list. That rush to become Rupert Murdoch or Ted Turner has subsided. And with good reason. It's not always about the content you create; more often, it's about the content you curate—your ability to be on top of everything that is happening in your industry/job function that will be in demand in 2014. After all, that's what Murdoch and Turner did: they didn't become successful by personally writing content themselves. Instead, they created outlets that showcase what their staffs and other professionals have produced, from journalism to entertainment.
With the volume of media messages skyrocketing, being on top of what is happening in your area of expertise—being able to find the right content, comment on it, and share it with your brand community—will be an even more valuable skill than penning thought-leadership content yourself.
Distilling volumes into valuable nuggets while providing your commentary will make you more valuable and your brand more visible.
8. Charitable Causes—From Afterthought to Starting Point
Every major company engages in some type of philanthropy, but there is a trend toward companies that tie their entire mission to giving back.
In a recent article published in Strategy+Business, James O'Toole talks about the new business structure—the B (for benefit) corporation. Patagonia is perhaps the best known example of this model, which has been gaining traction in the US. Facilitating the growing social entrepreneurship movement, B charters permit boards to make decisions that benefit society, even when those actions aren't in the immediate interest of shareholders (note how different this is from the nonprofit structure).
As more and more Millennials enter the workforce and move into more senior roles, values will enter into the equation more than they have in the past. In Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World, David Burstein writes, "Millennials are highly connected to—and are extremely conscious of—their values. They see the world from a values perspective. Reaching [them] requires a real investment in social responsibility."
As companies become more serious about social responsibility, you'll want to think about your role. In branding, it's important to know your values and connect them with what you do and how you do it. Your values, and the causes you support, are facets of your brand. In the past we have talked about the blending (not balancing) of work and life. Now there is one more element: your world—how you want to contribute to something bigger than yourself.
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What do these trends add up to? Incredible opportunities! There have never been so many powerful ways to tell your brand's story—not only for your company's benefit but also for the benefit of your communities, both local and global.