How to transition your personal brand from the office to the virtual office. By Garry Browne AM
COVID-19 has been a complete game-changer and forced all of us to change the way we live, work and operate. Many of us have had to quickly adapt to working from home and get accustomed to a more digital way of working using platforms like Google Hang Outs, Zoom and Microsoft Teams to connect to others. Research suggests that this new way of working is here to stay, so I just want to share a few tips with you that can help you transition your personal brand from the psychical office to the virtual workplace.
As we make the transition to a more digital way of working, you firstly need to be aware of and understand your own abilities, strengths and weaknesses so that you can continue to position yourself as a unique asset to a company, and so that you can also identify what you might need to work on and what you might need support with.
Once you are really in tune with your personal brand, values and purpose, then you need to articulate it accordingly – walk the walk and talk the talk. As Tom Peters said, we are all CEOs of our own companies and to be in business today your most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called ‘You’.
Continue to Learn
Do you feel like you have developed more skills over the past few months or have you fallen off the pace? Unless you are continuing to learn, you are going backwards. It’s up to you to proactively ensure you are keeping up with industry news, trends and discovering new tools and skills that can help you and your team. If you’re not regularly learning new skills and extending your knowledge, then you’ll become less relevant in your organisation. Try subscribing to trade newsletters or following industry experts on social media to get snippets of useful information throughout your day.
As everyone navigates this new environment, employers will be looking out for ways to make the business more efficient and anything you can do to support this will help build your positive reputation. If you’re proficient with the digital space, offer to assist those who may need support and help. This will also help to build a positive reputation.
LinkedIn, forums and other social media platforms provide you with the opportunity to connect and develop a virtual network of people which is an important component for growing your reputation. Strong connections within your industry sector, and outside it, will also give you a wider network of people who can help you navigate through this changing environment and secure exposure to new opportunities. However, just remember that linking on social media is not the same as building a strong, committed network of trusted people.
You want to consider each social media platform carefully. There’s no use pasting yourself all over the social media landscape with no focus. If you’re featured in every channel with just your name and no content, you are not going to be engaging or relevant to your audience. People will not be able to get an impression of what you stand for and what your expertise is. You also want to carefully consider what you are sharing so that it is an extension of your personal brand and represents who you are, your values, behaviours and passions.
It’s important to stay connected with your colleagues. Create a group chat with your team, connect with them on different forums, schedule regular calls. This is an unknown and unprecedented time for everyone – being able to share that experience, knowledge and understanding with others in your cohort will help you when dealing with your own organisations.
Remember, everything you do, and choose not to do, communicates the value and character of ‘brand you’. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations, to the email messages you send, to the way you conduct yourself in a virtual meeting is a part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.
Video calls are no different to face-to-face meetings, when you should dress for the reputation you are working to build. Wearing a t-shirt and board shorts for a new business meeting could come across as overly casual and perhaps that you don’t give a stuff. Present who you are and what you feel comfortable with, within the scope and profile of the organisation you’re meeting with.
With only your upper torso on show video calls, your eye movement, head movement, shoulder movement, posture and facial expressions all become incredibly important to your self-expression. This body language tells people what you think about yourself and what you think of them. Plus, don’t forget the power of your surroundings. Everything that is on view on your camera will be studied by the call participants. So make sure that you’re happy with what’s on show and that it reflects your personal brand or is simply just a plain background.
The way you project your voice in virtual meetings is also important. If you talk clearly, keep your contributions short and to the point, you tend to come across more assured and knowledgeable.
If you feel uncomfortable with video calls, try practicing with friends and family. The more video calls you do, the more confident you will feel at commanding the technology.
The importance of conveying your personal brand has to be continual. It’s not a set and forget approach. To make an effective positive impact, it’s crucial that you continue to convey your personal brand in the environments you deem relevant to those you want to influence. The most effective environments will change over time but it’s about being adaptable when you recognise that you’re not getting the traction you think you should have, and then finding a way to improve that.
ABOUT GARRY BROWNE AM Branding and business pioneer, Garry Browne AM has had over 40 years’ experience successfully launching international brands into Australia such as Tabasco, Mentos, Chupa Chups etc. In his debut book Brand New Brand You, Garry shares his invaluable insight on the essential dynamics of personal branding which uses the same intrinsic elements of commercial brand building. Visit garrybrowne.com.au/books to find out more.