We live in an ever increasingly connected world, where work-life balance is more off balance than balanced, and the line between the personal and professional is forever blurred. And because this is our world, it is imperative that individuals step back and consider a few things- namely your personal brand.
Social media has become both a good and a bad thing. Good because we are able to tell our story for free to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, but bad because it is very difficult to truly disconnect when we need time “off.” Additionally, I see many young people who forget that they have work associates connected to their social sites and post things that are simply unprofessional. I think the key thing to keep in mind is that for better or worse, each one of us is building an image, or “personal brand.”
Recently, I read an article published in the Harvard business review titled: Handle your stress better by knowing what causes it. In the article, the author discusses a term called “fundamental attribution error.” The author describes the term this way: “fundamental attribution error refers to our tendency to judge others by their behavior and assign it to their character, but to judge ourselves based on our intent. Essentially, we make assumptions about people’s motives and blame them for their actions. When they exhibit a behavior we don’t like, we label it as a character flaw.”
As I was reading this it immediately struck a nerve with me. It seems that this is how society at large operates now, the news/media being one the of biggest culprits. I introduce the above term within this article because it is important to realize that people will judge us based on a picture, quote, etc. and, unfortunately, we mostly don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
Ok, so at this point I know that many people are thinking, “why can’t I just be myself?” The answer is that you can, but you also need to be aware of your audience, particularly if you are in sales or another profession that relies upon others having a positive view of you. Your mother and best friend are going to understand your social media posts because they know you, but the new client that you just “friended” probably won’t because they don’t. If clients or work associates don’t know you well, they may see “questionable” posts and assume things, even attaching negative attributes to your character.
Ask yourself: what type of personal brand am I building? Is that brand reflective of who I am as a person, or how I want to be recognized and remembered? The reason we pay more money for a certain brand in the marketplace is because of how it makes us feel, and the same is true for people in the workplace. Professionals often earn more money based on their personal brand- so what’s yours?
-Written by Aaron Getty