Defining the Traits of Your Professional Brand: A Four-Step Guide

By now, it’s cliché to say this, but it bears repeating.

People buy from people.

Sure, we live in an age where we can Washio our clothes, Sprig our lunches, and TaskRabbit our errands – with minimal human interaction.

But even in today’s digital age, human-to-human interaction still matters, especially on social media. It is not enough for the brand to have a social media presence. A company’s employees must do so, as well.

  • 77% of buyers say that they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO, the human face of a company, uses social media.
  • 82% of buyers trust a company more if its CEO is on social media.
  • 78% of salespeople who using social media outsell their peers.

If done correctly, social media can be a powerful tool, but in order for it to work, a company’s employees must have a trustworthy and authentic presence on social media.

Employees have to know who they are as professionals, and they have to convey their individual professional brands in all their interactions.

Here’s how you can get started…

Step 1: Identify personality traits that you like about yourself

In order to create an effecitve social media presence, you have to know who you are. The good news is that there are many ways to figure this out.

Option 1: Tests

If you’ve taken the majority of BuzzFeed’s quizzes, you may enjoy taking a test that tells you about yourself. Here are a few free tests you can try:

  • The Keirsey Temperament Sorter – Based on Carl Jung’s work, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter divides humans into distinct temperament types: rational, idealist, artisan, guardian. Each of those types is divided into four variants.
  • The Myers-Briggs Type indicator – At one time or another, you probably took this test. Take it again thinking specificially about your workplace personality. What do you find?
  • The 5 Big Personality Traits – This test will tell you whether you’re open to new experiences, conscientious, extraverted, agreeable, and neurotic (think: nervous).

Option 2: Personal Reflection

Maybe you are not a quiz taker. No problem. Here’s another way to get started (adapted from Kate Wendleton’s Through the Brick Wall):

Step 1: Write down 15 enjoyable accomplishments in your life. It can be from any time in your life. It can be winning a spelling bee in fifth grade or being promoted at your last job.

Step 2: It may take you a few days to come up with a list of accomplishments. Once you have your list, pick out the seven stories that speak to you most strongly.

Step 3: Jot down the skills and personality traits that you demonstrated in each circumstance. As you go through the list, you should notice some overlap in the qualities that you like about yourself.

Here’s an example

I recently finished my PhD. As you can imagine, that is an accomplishment I am proud of. Now, the question is: What does this accomplishment mean for my personal and professional brand?

During the course of my doctoral studies, there were many days when I wanted to throw in the towel, move to Spain, and open an ice cream shop on the beach. But, I stuck with my program because I have grit and determination. Grit is part of my professional brand, and it is something that I want to convey online.

Similarly, carrying out doctoral studies requires a healthy dose of rationality and skepticism. You have to question every assumption – even your own. When I share links on social media, I want my brainy side to show through. So, I will stay away from the Buzzfeed and Upworthy articles, and instead, I will share data-driven articles like this one from Hubspot: How Fast Is Your Blog Growing? How to Run a Regression Analysis.

Step 2: Interview the people who know you the best.

Once you have done some self-exploration, it is time to run your brand past some people. Speak to the people who are closest to you. They can be family, friends, or peers.

Ask your network what they think your best traits are. Ask them what they think your values are.

You might find that their opinions align closely with your own, or you might find that their opinions are the polar opposite.

If your view of your self aligns with those of others, congratulations! You are great at introspection, and you are conveying your true self to others.

If your view of your self does not align with that of others, don’t worry! It’s not the end of the world. You simply have more reflection to do. Are you not being honest with yourself about who you are? Or are you struggling to convey your individual professional brand to others in words and/or deeds?

Step 3: Think about how your personality fits with your company’s brand.

I’m assuming that you have a job, and I’m assuming that you want to keep it.

Whether we like it or not, our actions on social media are reflections of the companies we work for.

Employers know this. If you are part of a larger company, your legal department likely requires you to include “opinions are my own” verbiage on your Twitter bio.

Such verbiage might seem like a downer, especially if being opinionated or outspoken is part of your personal brand. But such verbiage does not have to be problematic. I’d encourage you to think of ways that your personal brand and your company’s brand do intersect.

For example, if you are opinionated and outspoken, you don’t have to change that part of yourself. Instead, think about topics that you can discuss openly on social media. If you are a graphic designer for a software company, you can opine freely on typography, but you may want to shy away from political issues.

If you don’t know anything about your company’s branding, speak to your marketing team. They should be able to share the business’s core values with you.

Step 4: Brainstorm ways that you can showcase your personal brand online.

Give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done the heavy-lifting. You’ve figured out who you are, and you’ve figured out how your personality jibes with your company’s brand.

Now, you have to figure out how you will showcase your personality on social media. There’s no right or wrong way to do this.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you’re artsy, you can play with your profile picture and cover photo on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can show off your understanding of color theory, typography, and photography.
  • If you consider yourself to be a helpful person, you can answer questions for people on social media. If you don’t know the answers, you can point the people to a webpage with the answer, or you can point them to someone in your organization who may know the answer.
  • If you’re a rational person, you can curate third-party articles that challenge long-held assumptions about your industry.
  • If you’re a teacher at heart, share the tips and tricks of your trade. Social media users are always looking for a way to improve their processes.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are countless ways to express your personal and professional brand on social media. In the next post on the Trapit blog, we delve deeper into the topic.



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Image source:Jay Palter

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