Keeping up with personal-branding trends will keep you visible and vital as you grow in your marketing career. I've identified 11 trends related to personal branding and the best techniques for building your brand. For 2011, video is a primary focus and plays a major role in five of the 11 trends below.
1. Anywhere Hiring
As companies increase hiring after the global recession eases, they will be more open to bringing on ideal candidates regardless of the candidate's location.
Driven by greater competition for talent, leaner budgets, years of successfully working off-site and advances in technology, there will be a marked increase in the number of people re-entering the workforce from remote locations. This trend will make offices slimmer and commutes shorter, but it will cause you to rely on technology even more to build your brand, land a job, and do it well.
Video will be a particularly critical tool for interviewing remote candidates and a vital medium for communicating your brand message and building your identity with colleagues.
In real estate listings, it has become common to see the initials "HO," for home office, as a selling feature. As more people start to work from home in 2011, look for the abbreviation to become "HOS," or Home Office Studio. And with the move to all things video, the home office will now become a "set," giving new meaning to the real estate term "home staging."
Home offices will have video equipment designed to ensure high-quality audio and professional-looking backgrounds for synchronous and asynchronous communication. Although Skype has been the basic mode of video connections for quite some time, Cisco recently announced the more robust Telepresence for the home called UMI. Homecasting systems will become less expensive, higher quality, and more pervasive.
Email is so last decade. Good riddance, because email is one of our weakest forms of expression. Words account for only about 7% of a communication, and words are pretty much all we have to work with on email.
As video becomes easier and easier to create and distribute, it will eventually replace the ubiquitous text-based email that we've been using for about 30 years. Look for changes to email software and new products to support this evolution from text to video. VideoBIO and Talk Fusion are just two of many companies that offer services to support video in email.
4. Prêt-à-Regarder (Ready-to-Watch)
In the Mad Men '60s and Mary Tyler Moore '70s, the dress or coat-and-tie "uniform" was just about mandatory. During the '80s, we loosened up and created casual Fridays when we acknowledged that formal clothes don't necessarily make the employee. In the '90s and '00s, every day became casual in many workplaces, especially if those workplaces were the spare bedroom or dining room table.
Soon, the fashion needle will swing back a bit. If you work from home, the days of working in your pajamas are numbered thanks to live video meetings. But no need to stow the shorts and flip-flops, since we'll mostly homecast from the waist up.
5. Personal Branding Infused
Human resources leaders understand that an excellent way to retain talent is to increase engagement and help employees apply their best skills. Over the past decade, many Fortune 500 companies and global brands have built personal-branding training programs to support employee development.
In the coming years, personal branding will be fully integrated into learning systems. That means there will be elements of personal branding included in soft-skills training—from new-hire orientation through leadership development.
As you participate in development programs in the coming year, listen to how many times you hear references to your personal brand.
6. Web Purity
Omnipresent social networks, myriad blogs, always-on and always-connected workplaces and work spaces, constant online job searches—the Web has become a noisy and crowded place.
No wonder it's difficult for people who google you to get a clear picture of who you are—especially if you have a common name. They can't be sure whether you're the John Smith who ran the Boston marathon or the one who faced insider-trading charges.
Services will soon become available to help you stand out from others with your name. In 2010, Vizibility launched, offering the opportunity to build a "Search Me" button to share pure Google results with your contacts. Look for more products and services that will help you highlight accurate and relevant content.
7. 3-D PB
As blended search becomes the norm and Web researchers demand more multimedia content, images, video, and real-time content will become more important to those researching you. People who look you up on the Web can get a 3-D view of who you are and what you have to offer. That means sites like Flickr, YouTube and Twitter will become even more important, and new tools that integrate all forms of media will become available.
Multimedia is critical for personal branding. It provides the opportunity to build emotional connections with people who are making decisions about you. A picture is worth a thousand words, and video delivers more complete communication. Those who make the most of this trend will stand out from their peers.
8. Personal Portals
Many of you have spent time creating a LinkedIn profile, building a blog, creating a Twitter bio, friending on Facebook, etc., which has resulted in a fractured personal brand: There's the Facebook you, the YouTube you, the Twitter you, and so on.. Each person who connects with you via one of those sites sees only one facet of your brand, which may not provide the complete story about who you are and what you do.
Personal portals, such as about.me and flavors.me, are a new category of online tools that allow you to link all the different facets of your brand in one place and create one customizable Web page that connects all your profiles from various social networks.
Visibility is important in personal branding; credibility is even more important. One of the best ways to build credibility is to have others speak for you.
LinkedIn has provided the opportunity to get recommendations from network members for years. Angie's List allows you to evaluate and recommend service-providers, Lawyers.com provides peer-review information, and Honestly.com (formerly Unvarnished) allows you to anonymously evaluate your Facebook friends and LinkedIn network members.
Recommendations and testimonials have always been a part of the job-search process and a tool for making decisions about prospective consultants, colleagues, and business partners. Soon, there will be a new class of tools that will make reviewing and evaluating reviews easy.
10. Augmented Reality
The vast amount of Web information that has been built up about people in recent years (thanks to all the personal branding we've been doing) will spawn augmented-reality applications. Run your mouse over someone's photo and you will be able to learn where they live, who their employer is, where they are at the moment, what their interests are, what they are reading, and what they blog about.
Although this is a long-term trend, it seems likely that we will start to see different aspects of augmented reality in 2011—making it important for you to decide what parts of your brand are relevant and to ensure your online content is up to date.
11. Google Gatekeeper
And the Google factor won't affect just job seekers. Good grades and high SAT scores won't be enough to get prospective students into college. According to a November 2010 study by Kaplan, 9% of business schools, 15% of law schools, and 14% of medical schools are already using social networking sites to help evaluate college applicants during the admissions process.
Where there's fierce competition or limited enrollment, digital dirt or a lackluster online brand may close those ivy-covered gates. In the coming years, online personal branding will become almost as important as academics to those aspiring to attend college. Yes, personal branding will soon be coming to a high school near you.
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