Creating An Effective Personal Brand for the Virtual World

Posted by Caitlyn Zarlengo

In today’s primarily remote work environment, professionals have had to adjust how they approach daily interactions. Face-to-face meetings, impromptu hallway conversations, and in-person lunches are relatively nonexistent. Additional effort is required to meet colleagues, build relationships and make an impact in virtual meetings. Even as physical office locations begin to reopen, remote work and virtual interactions will likely continue indefinitely. In these hybrid work environments, it’s important individuals build and maintain consistent personal brands that reflect who they are both in person and on screen.

2021.01-RefreshingBrandForNewReality-01It can be a challenge translating even well-developed personal brands to the virtual world. Here are a few ways to make sure your brand is a clear and consistent reflection of who you are and the story you want to tell, even in the remote environment.

Stay relevant.
If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a fresh look at your professional values and goals, dedicate time to reevaluating your brand. Have your priorities or career goals shifted in the past year? As personal and professional lives continue to blur, are you comfortable sharing more information about your family or personal hobbies in order to build stronger connections? What are your current strengths and what areas need work?

2021.01-RefreshingBrandForNewReality-03Refresh your elevator pitch.
If you’ve already honed your personal brand, consider any tweaks that will help it best translate to the online space. If you’re asked to introduce yourself on a video call, is your elevator speech prepared? How does it differ if you are talking to a broad group versus in a smaller, more focused meeting? There will be many situations when you have to deliver your brand story to a virtual audience and preparation is key. Keep your content shorter than what you would typically share in person. Strive for something memorable, but also remember sarcasm, tone and facial expressions may not always come across how you intend.

Update your social media profiles.
Does what people see online match up with the brand you want to convey? If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, take some time to review and make sure it is consistent with the story you’re telling around your brand. Ensure your professional accomplishments are up-to-date and you’re sharing any articles you’ve recently written or have found valuable. Schedule time to regularly interact with posts from others in your network at least once a week to remain active and relevant.

2021.01-RefreshingBrandForNewReality-05Seek out networking opportunities.
In the virtual world, initial introductions may not happen as organically as they do in real life. When attending a conference or networking event in person, it is easier to control who you speak with and which conversations you join. You may even catch someone in between sessions to introduce yourself or discuss a specific topic. The virtual environment is different and break out rooms, online networking events, private LinkedIn Groups and other tools are being used to help recreate these more intimate interactions. Proactively talk to colleagues and individuals already in your network to find opportunities that fit your needs and will help you move toward your goals.

Dress the part.
If you are typically dressed in business casual attire for work and meetings, consider dressing similarly for video calls. At the same time, your background in video calls should reflect your professional self, similar to your physical office or cubicle space. Avoid clutter and aim for a space that reinforces who you are and further builds your brand. Focus on your body language and remember individuals can see you and your reactions, even if you are not speaking.

2021.01-RefreshingBrandForNewReality-04-1Follow up.
Following up is key to making networking and relationship-building efforts worthwhile, whether in person or online. If you’re attending a virtual conference or networking session, organizers may create Excel sheets where individuals can add and share their contact information with one another. Or, attendees may be placed into smaller breakout rooms, where they can focus on meeting a select group of people. Don’t hesitate to ask about connecting on LinkedIn, or even if individuals would be open to virtual lunches or coffee to continue conversations more in depth. One-on-one meetings are often where longer-term relationships can be built and strengthened. As individuals return to work and restrictions ease, it may even be possible to meet new online connections face-to-face.

As you continue to grow as a professional in the virtual environment, creating and maintaining a consistent personal brand that transcends both face-to-face and virtual environments is paramount. For more on effectively presenting yourself in the virtual environment, view “Lights, Camera, Action! Putting Your Best Virtual Foot Forward.”