Don’t Twitter Away a Personal Branding Opportunity

Whether you’re addicted to Twitter or find little value in its content, experts agree that it offers a relatively painless and inexpensive way to enhance your professional reputation. Celebrities, politicians and athletes aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about their brand or image. Everyone has a trademark; if you have any doubts about its existence, consider what your boss or co-workers might say about you if asked.

The right brand can help you land a job, garner a raise or receive a higher offer, a tarnished reputation – not so much. Career expert Susan Whitcomb’s recent article on using Twitter to find a job, includes some valuable how to’s for the novice brand builder. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, you should consider bolstering your brand, so you can reap the benefits at your present company or profit from a strong reputation when you decide to enter the market.

You can see all of Susan’s recommendations on her Web site; here are several key points that pertain to brand building, along with a few original ideas dedicated to IT professionals.

  • Create your brand. Before you start Tweeting, decide what you’re known for and what you’d like to be known for. If you’re known as the quiet coder who rarely ventures out of his cubical; you’d be better served by being known as a Java coding expert. Best of all, you get to create your brand or image when you decide to Tweet; then all you have to do is live up to it.
  • Set yourself apart. Make sure your Tweets support your brand or reputation. Provide tips that nurture your image as a turnaround project manager or database guru and you’ll capture the attention of other IT professionals.
  • Provide original content. Less is more; you’re better off Tweeting infrequently, but developing a reputation for providing snippets of valuable information than always referring to an article or news item.
  • Think Strategic When Setting Up Your Twitter Account. Many people vacillate between using their own personal name (such as JohnDoe) or profession (such as CFOintheKnow). There are advantages to both, but using your real name can add to your name recognition
  • Write an Employer-Focused 160me for Your Twitter Profile. Twitter allows you 160 characters max to describe who you are. Give them a taste of the return-on-investment they’ll receive from hiring you.
  • Include a Professional Photo. Leaving off a photo is an invitation for people to dismiss you. Your photo should be as professional as you look when going to an interview – your absolute best. Don’t like your picture? Use an avatar, but stay on brand.
  • Tweet On-Brand. You’ll want to tweet primarily about things that relate to your profession.
  • Use Hashtags. Hashtags, represented by the # sign in front of a word (e.g., #accounting, #finance, #programming, #healthcare), are used on Twitter to help users find all the tweets with that hashtag.
  • Use Lists. Check out fora list of people of interest in your target companies or profession. Likewise, check out the lists that other Twitter users have created.

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman