For those who have been following our personal brand series, you should have a firm grasp now on your personal digital brand identity and the value it can bring, developed a strategy for where and how you plan to build your brand online, and begun generating thought leadership content that helps to position you as an aligned and relevant leader in the future world of work, thus ensuring you are better known in your industry and sought after in target areas. It is likely that you’ve put in all this hard work in order to secure a new opportunity or promotion or to gain greater recognition with clients or potential business prospects. But what happens once you have succeeded, and it is time to take the next step in the process?
In this instalment of our Personal Brand series, we will explore the ways in which your brand and online presence can be leveraged to support first meetings.
In many cases, your brand may have helped you secure the meeting in the first place. Your content and online presence may have been what attracted the opportunity to you, but it is important not to lose this momentum once you have secured the interview or appointment. Continue sharing your regular content in the lead up to the discussions and remember the content you have shared. That way, you appear consistent and your brand seems more genuine, rather than a means to an end.
In today’s digitally-driven age, your online presence provides a ‘pre first impression’ before the first impression. Most individuals seeking new talent will confess to having Googled candidates or checking their social media before the interview. This also applies to prospect meetings and networking. With this being the case, you will want to review your profile and content to ensure both adequately reflect what you are looking to convey and make the impression you’re hoping to make, especially in comparison to potential peers.
But one of the biggest benefits your online presence can provide before a first meeting is contributing to your research and preparation. Find out who you will be meeting with and take the time to have a look at their profiles. In addition to learning what sorts of topics they discuss, what they’re passionate about or interested in, if you are in the same groups or share similar work experience, you may find they went to a school in the same area as you or are connected to some of the same people. This enables you to learn more about them in order to find potential common ground, which will help to ease some of your nerves and break the ice.
Also be sure to take a look at any relevant company pages. These are usually updated more frequently than the website and will likely paint a better picture of the most recent news, initiatives, and happenings at that organisation. There might be things you could ask about or mention as part of the discussion.
While doing your due diligence in these two areas can help you get the lay of the land before your meeting, you should also research who your likely competitors might be (organisations or peers) and where you potentially benchmark in the market. LinkedIn’s search feature is an excellent asset for this. The site allows you to search for certain job titles and explore the profiles of those who currently hold that role. Let’s say for example you are a Marketing expert. You can go into LinkedIn, type VP of Marketing into the search bar, and when the drop-down menu appears, select where it says “VP of Marketing in People” to see everyone whose profile mentions that title. You can filter your search even further to see results by geography, company, and connections. If you are comfortable with doing this, have a look at their profiles and experience to see how you measure up. What skills do you share? Which of your experiences are similar? How are they presenting themselves online, and how does it compare to the work that you have been doing both online and offline with your brand? You may find yourself at an advantage, which might help to boost your confidence or could potentially be leveraged in negotiations later on.
While to some this all may feel a bit like ‘cyberstalking,’ it is to your benefit to use the tools available in order to improve your visibility, relevance and impact.
During the meeting
One of the first actions we recommended doing in the early stages of developing your digital brand was developing your elevator pitch. If you have done this, then you will already have a crisp and succinct answer to the dreaded “tell us about yourself” or “how are things for you” questions. You should have a strong idea of your ‘why’, and what it is you have to offer. All the self-reflection work you have put in should also have provided you with some solid examples and stories you could share.
Remember how we said that your online presence is your first impression before the first impression? That can work to your benefit. If the person or people you are meeting have seen your content and are interested in it, they are likely to ask questions about it. This is an advantage for you, as it gives you an opportunity to discuss topics you are passionate about and knowledgeable in.
More than that, your brand can actually become a safety net for you. If you already have a brand that’s strong, even if you forget to cover areas of interest in your meeting you have that to fall back on as you will have already made a ‘pre first impression’ of being a knowledgeable and engaged thought leader in your industry or job function.
After the meeting
How does your personal digital brand support a lasting impression?
If you haven’t already, it may be worth connecting with the individuals you have met on social media, especially if you had a good rapport. Be sure to send a message thanking them for the meeting and where appropriate expressing that it would be positive to stay connected going forward. It is important to not lose momentum with your brand or thought leadership. This activity that helped to differentiate you from your competitors may have been a real selling point. It is essential to not become complacent and treat the development of your personal digital brand as a one-time tactic. There are always new doors that your brand can open, such as networking opportunities, speaking engagements, press interviews, podcast appearances, conference keynotes, and so on. Your personal digital brand should therefore be an integral part of your professional identity and should not be discarded once your goal has been achieved.
While building and maintaining your brand can seem like a lot of hard work, investing time that is consistent and authentic manner will provide some bigger picture benefits that will support you to progress through your career. If you would like individual help developing your personal brand to support with securing your next opportunity or developing new prospects, get in touch with our team.