b.Line Issue 21: Creating a Personal Brand Online

Assalamualaikum and hi:)

I thought I could share this here on my blog, so it would be of some use for people outside of University of Wisconsin-Madison (though, I doubt it would be much help, but oh well). After the December issue of b.Line, in which my first article, Drowning in a Sea of Choices, was released, we had to write articles for the January issue, which was just released yesterday (Wednesday, January 29th)

And Alhamdulillah, I was given the chance to write again for this issue, but it wasn’t just one article, but two articles. *jumps high in the air* I was so excited that I think my Writing Director was just laughing at me while she read my emails last November. Oh well, I really do enjoy writing, so obviously I would love the chance of writing more articles.

One of my articles is this particular one, Creating a Personal Brand Online. I was allowed to write two full pages for this article, and so I did. It was a fun time writing this, and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. So here you go, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it for you. 🙂

Right smack in the middle pages! 😀

Before you start reading this article, take out your smartphone, your tablet or your personal computer, and try searching yourself up on Google. What are the first five things that come up on the results page?

Like it or not, Google might be the first place your future employers will be looking you up before they offer you a job. Believe it or not, some admission officers have been searching up applicants on Google before reaching a decision.

Surveys by Kaplan Test Prep noted a steady rise in the percentage of admission officers that perform internet searches on their applicants in the past few years. Last year, 27% of admissions officers had used Google and 26% had visited Facebook, up from 20% and 24%, respectively, in 2011. A research by ExecuNet has also shown that 77% of recruiters admitted to using search engines to find out more information about potential candidates.

If you’re worried about what people might find out about you on the internet, well, worry no more! To prepare yourself for future Google background checks on you, here are a couple of tips that would help you in creating a personal and professional brand for yourself online!

1. Use a professional email and display name.

This means getting rid of the old email that you made when you were ten. No more using tacky emails like ‘rckerz4eva@hotmail.com’ or ‘surfer_dudez_2468@yahoo.com’. Instead, create a more professional and mature email address for career and educational uses.

Use your full name, if possible, so it’d be far more recognizable and professional. Avoid using nicknames like ‘Britney Lovez Candiez’ and ‘BigBooty Judy’, because it would leave a bad impression on people.

2. Use social networking sites as leverages.

Who says social networking sites are bad for you? If you use them in the proper ways, they could help you build a strong personal brand online. Use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to engage in discussions about current issues. Express your opinions and thoughts about topics related to your intended industry. You can also use social networking sites to create more networks, i.e. with the people you meet at corporate events or through a friend. The more people you have in your network, the stronger your personal brand is.

3. Limit the unnecessary updates.

It really does not look good if your future employers find those Instagram pictures of you and your friends drunk at a club or your mad tweets about your previous co-worker who used to sneeze every two minutes. This behavior gives a negative portrayal of your character, so while you can, try to limit the amount of unnecessary posts and pictures you post online. You can save all the party pictures in your personal album, but there is no need to share them with the whole world.

If you’re worrying about your past Facebook statuses or Twitter tweets, don’t fret. As time passes by, your new posts will push your older ones down, and most people would not bother scrolling down your timeline to find out your dark history. But, if you are really paranoid about people finding them, you can always delete the inappropriate posts!

4. Polish your writing skills.

Pliz du nt rite lyk dis. Nothing is worse than bad grammar and bad spelling. Train yourself to use proper grammar while posting anything online, be it a tweet on Twitter or your Facebook status. You can also improve your writing skills by starting a blog. Not only that you can pick up different writing styles while blogging, but you can also expand your network of friends and spark up discussions about current issues.

Who knows, perhaps your future employer may come across your blog and enjoy reading your thoughts? That’s a great deal for you, as you can showcase your communication skills and your critical thinking skills at the same time!

5. Be true to yourself.

Now, for the most cliché tip ever: Be true to who you are. Do not try to be someone you’re not online, it can really hurt you in real life. Do not try to pose as someone else, or copy someone else’s article and post it on your blog/website as your own (that’s plagiarism!). Do not try to talk about issues that are completely outside your range of interest with hopes to attract more attention to yourself. Doing all these things that are completely opposite to who you are will haunt you in the future.

Now that you’ve read all the above tips, it’s time to improve your personal branding online. Remember to always check on your progress and improve it from time to time. Google yourself every few months or so and see how your personal brand is growing. The more unique and professional your personal brand is, the more people will be able to know who you are, and the more you can increase your credibility.

As said by ExecuNet CEO and Founder, Dave Opton, “As the amount of personal information available online grows, first impressions are being formed long before the interview process begins.” What people find about you online is going to be the first thing they know about you, so you would want to make sure that they find out good things about yourself!


Disclaimer: All the pictures above are taken by myself, with some help from my friends, Suma and Devu.

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