Personal branding expert Jane Scandurra shares 3 tips to turn your personal brand up to 11, to avoid being “out of sight, out of mind” in the wake of the current pandemic.

In an article I wrote for Rockstar CMO last year, I shared my perspective on why building a strong personal brand is so important in a highly competitive, attention-challenged, digital world. Even though the enormous benefits of personal branding have been touted for decades, many people still didn’t understand it, didn’t take it seriously or just didn’t make it a priority.

Then, the pandemic shut down the world as we knew it. Global lockdowns and social distancing orders have now put a blinding spotlight on the need for a strong virtual presence when normal physical interaction IRL (in real life) is not an option.

International travel halted. Events cancelled. Schools closed. Large crowd gatherings prohibited.  ‘Non-essential’ businesses closed. Millions of job layoffs and furloughs. Many of those lucky enough to still be employed are working from home. Even when lockdowns are lifted and social distancing rules are relaxed, the world is not going back to the way we knew it. Digital transformation is being accelerated. That means more time online and more competition – for attention and for opportunities. Even what you do well will have to stand out more.

Regardless of how well established your personal brand may have been before the crisis, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ has never been truer than it is now. When it comes to strengthening your brand in a virtual world, you need to crank up the volume to eleven, a la This is Spinal Tap. Post-pandemic, as we continue to live more of our lives in the digital realm, your virtual brand has the opportunity to become one of your greatest assets – or one of your biggest liabilities. You choose.

Here are three ways to turn the volume up on your virtual brand:

1. Master video communications

Yes, I know. After a few months, it’s clear that Zoom Fatigue has already set in. However, video is about as personal as we can get right now. Working from home may become more prevalent going forward. Why not make it worth your time and effort to become a video communications rock star? When meetings are ONLY virtual, you will surely be judged by how you show up. So, bring your best virtual you every time.

Have good lighting. Dress appropriately. Look into the camera, show attentiveness. Don’t look distracted or, worse, uninterested. Even when you’re not speaking, people can see you – and they ARE watching. In long meetings, especially if you’re not presenting, it’s easy to let your face frown or look bored, or God forbid, roll your eyes at a comment your boss makes without realizing it. Try to maintain a positive or neutral facial expression with an occasional smile. A friendly smile lets the speaker know you’re engaged and interested.

For one-to-one communications, I skip Zoom and like to use a free personalized video tool, like GoVideo by Vidyard. In the absence of in-person interaction, it’s easy to share recorded videos that capture attention and deliver your personal brand in a fun, unique way that can help build relationships.

Feeling brave? Turn the camera on yourself and record some helpful pearls of wisdom for social sharing. Having co-produced a feature documentary, I’m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it… but I know this something I need to do to strengthen my virtual brand. Ugh. No helpful tips here, I’ll just tell you what I’m telling myself – get over it and just do it. If you want to start slow, try audiograms first.

2. Practice compassionate networking

Without a doubt, your network is your net worth. Now, more than ever, it’s important to SHARE IT. Even in a time of social distancing, you can still reach out and introduce someone. Since the quarantine began, I’ve been making time to proactively facilitate virtual introductions that I think might help people. It’s been personally rewarding and I know it strengthens my personal brand at the same time, as I want to be known as a helpful connector. Remember, networking is not selling. Pandemic or not, the best approach to building relationships is with a ‘how can I help YOU?’ perspective.

Be proactive about reaching out to current/former colleagues, clients, partners, etc. – whether it be on the phone, via Zoom or on social media. Everyone is yearning for more human contact. Help people cope with the current situation, but don’t judge. Be vulnerable – this has been a challenging experience for everyone. Be empathetic to hard times some may be facing. Sales people need to be especially conscious of this when reaching out to clients and prospects. Don’t sell, be helpful. You sell more by ‘selling’ less. All these actions will be remembered and appreciated with an opportunity to strengthen your brand at the same time.

3. Intentional, positive engagement

There’s a lot (A LOT!) to complain about right now. Don’t. Fight the temptation, whether you’re interacting with someone on social media, on the phone, in an email, or on a video conference. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to remember negative interactions with someone when they’re not offset by more positive in-person experiences. With social distancing in place, virtual interactions are all we have. Everything you do or say impacts your personal brand – either positively or negatively. Plus, let’s not forget that whatever you post online lives forever – it can and will be held against you. Complaining does not help to build a positive personal brand.

Instead, find ways to be more memorable in your communications that make you stand out in a positive way, always genuine and authentic – in line with your brand. Be known for something. Leverage your strengths and expertise to help others. Be the one who lifts people up.

Get active on LinkedIn. Read the comments on popular posts and jump into the conversation and share your expert or personal perspective. The more you do that, the more well-known you can become. The old saying of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has an addendum in a socially connected world: it’s also about ‘what you’re known for and who knows you’. Connect and take the conversation offline with like-minded professionals.

We don’t know what life will be like in the post-pandemic world and millions of individuals and businesses are struggling just to make it through to the other side. One thing is certain: self-reliance has never been more important. Building a strong, valuable personal brand helps to build confidence and provide clarity of the (perhaps, renewed) purpose and direction that will be needed to succeed.

So, turn it up to eleven.

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