The world is more connected every day and your personal brand doesn’t need to be hidden away. Employers can find a great deal of value through their employees’ personal brands with the alignment of the message, support, and resources.
Some of my best experiences on Twitter are when I’m engaged in a Twitter Chat. There’s just something about the flooding of responses. All sorts of different people on Twitter get to chime in. It’s a great opportunity to share and gain new perspectives you may not have considered.
What I’ll do here is share the questions from a specific Twitter Chat and my responses. Because of the limited character count on Twitter, I’ll use this format with more space to elaborate on and ideas or include additional, useful perspectives that I found as well!
Christine Gritmon & #ChatAboutBrand
Christine Gritmon is one of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow. She’s a social media trainer, personal branding coach, and micro-business mega-fan. You can follow her on Twitter at @cgritmon and all her social at her website www.gritmon.com.
The insights I share here are from her chat on Tuesday, November 17th, 2020. Using the hashtag #ChatAboutBrand on Twitter, Christine brought together her followers and friends to discuss how personal branding affects your employer’s brand.
Your Brand & Your Employer
Q1. What Does “Building an Online Community” Mean to You?
Community, in this sense, is the feeling of relatedness and connection between a group of people. In the ever-growing world of social media, each platform has it’s many varied “corners” where similar interests attract groups of people. It’s the discussions that grow around those interests and topics that build the community.
In my experience, you begin by joining in the conversations that already exist. By finding people who are already talking about these topics, you get the opportunity to jump in and engage with others. As you grow familiar with the community, you can begin sharing quality content that others will find valuable.
Over time, you’ll develop from someone who joins the conversation into someone who starts the conversation. That tipping point is when “building” an online community happens. The real accelerant to building a community, however, remains in engaging with the people who are responding to your conversation starters.
Q2. Why do some companies discourage employees from building their own personal brands?
The simple answer is fear. For a great many companies that have yet to evolve their understanding of an employee’s personal brand, fear is still a ruling emotion. Personal branding has grown quite quickly and outpaced the understanding of many management teams, so it’s also not a surprise.
A valuable employee that had a large network outside the company with a positive industry reputation was quite rare before recent years. As internet social networks have expanded and matured, individuals have been able to share their expertise and ideas while building communities of followers. That reality inspires quite a bit of fear in management teams that haven’t yet evolved and are still unfamiliar with personal brands.
Managers at these companies are fearful of a few things:
- The cultivation of and engagement with the personal brand may distract from work tasks and obligations;
- An employee’s personal brand grows so large that they do not “need” the company as an employer;
- The personal brand could eclipse the company’s influence;
- An individual’s brand and message could diverge from the company’s, creating a distraction from the company’s branding.
Q3. What are the advantages to a company of its employees having strong personal brands?
As long as the employee’s personal brand is aligned with the company’s image, the more attraction the personal brand draws in helps with the company brand’s field of attraction.
There are plenty of advantages to a company when employees have strong personal brands. Most advantages only exist if personal brands are aligned with the company’s brand image and messaging. When personal brands starting having a divergent message or worse, a counteractive message, the company’s advantages begin to fade away quickly.
When they are aligned, the main advantage is a larger field of gravity. Science explains how an object of larger mass has a larger field of gravity to attract smaller object—topics of conversation are no different in social networks. As more people begin talking about the same thing and sharing similar content, more people are attracted to the conversation in general. When employees are positively associated with a company and their content aligns, potential customers, clients, and partners will end up finding the company through that aligned conversation.
Q4. How can companies encourage and help their employees to develop strong personal brands?
The first thing a company can do to encourage employees to develop a strong personal brand is: give permission.
Most “social media policies” at companies talk a lot about what employees cannot do. Consequently, the message to employees is a prohibitive vibe, rather than encouraging. A great place to begin that change is to start any policy with a clear message: “We Want You To Build Your Brand!”
After giving permission, the company can provide guidelines the support the employee’s personal brand building. Remember that when the personal brand diverges or contradicts the company’s brand message, the personal brand becomes less valuable and interesting. If the company provide guidelines, not necessarily hard rules, as to what is helpful, then its easier for employees to build a personal brand that supports the company’s goals.
Providing support and resources is also a huge boost to employees’ personal brands. When a company has access to tools for graphics and visual branding resources, analytics tools, or even just experienced marketers that host information-sharing educational sessions—all those resources are extremely beneficial to an employee’s personal brand. A great opportunity for the company is they have multiple moments through sharing these resources to reinforce their brand standards and message with the employees.
Q5. What can an employee do today to use their own personal brand to benefit their employer?
Remember, we’re trying to create a larger field of gravity on the conversations that the company brand is already having. The employee can build that conversational momentum by discussing topics aligned with the company’s messaging.
Simply by being associated with the company (through employment) gives the personal brand a bit more credibility in the conversations anyway. Followers are more likely to engage with the personal brand because of that credibility. One thing that is extremely valuable to the community will be insights that the personal brand can give about the industry, the company, and the products and services.
Q6. What (non-entertainment/sports celebrity) professionals can you think of who have also brought positive attention to their employers?
I think of @jeffweiner for LinkedIn when I think of personal brands that have brought positive attention to the company. Jeff stays active on LinkedIn, shares insights, and gives a great example of how to use the platform. I have followed him for years and keep a positive impression of LinkedIn (the company) because of his personal brand.