Last week I met with the OSU chapter of PRSSA for a discussion on how to market yourself. My colleague and good buddy, Becky Endicott joined me. These are a couple of the questions they asked.
How do you introduce yourself in networking and non-networking settings?
My answer, both sarcastic and serious, is I walk up, stick my hand out and say "Hi I'm Bonnie Ann Cain." What they were really getting at here, is how do you frame yourself. I think it's always best to frame yourself in a way that shows how you are similar to the person you are meeting. We like people who are like us, so try to find some common ground. Do you work in similar industries? Did you go to the same school? Are you members of the same organization?
How do you maintain relationships?
Social media really can make it easier to maintain relationships. The key is to use social media to actually make actual contacts, not just maintain a database of email addresses. There is a difference between friending someone and really using a network to interact with them.
What type of presence is best online? Strictly professional or personal and professional?
Unless you are willing to be completely and 100% diligent about not allowing any of your personal life online, there is no way to separate the two. There will always be a blend of the professional and the personal online persona. You just have to make sure both reflect well on you. Social media works best when you are a real person; it's OK (good, even) to be yourself. Just remember that anything you post online is posted in a public forum. You are not behind closed doors, whispering to your best friend. You are on stage with a megaphone.
Do you look at a job candidate's online presence?
Yes, I do. Not only do I look at candidates, I'll look up just about anyone I'll be interacting with. In our office, we regularly search new employees from other offices, reporters, editors, and people who comment about our organization in an open forum. And don't think just because your profiles are set to private that we can't get to stuff. Common friends are a great way to sneak looks at things someone didn't think strangers could see. I would advise everyone to do a thorough online search of themselves. You need to be aware of and actively manage your online reputation.
At the last minute Becky and I learned that our third panelist was out sick. So I tossed this out to Twitter: "We lost a panelist, so @ me your best self-marketing tip. Twitter just became our fill in panelist" Here's what Twitter had to say:
@ThirtySixthSpan: @BonnieAnn Passion is the most flexible of personal brands. No matter what you are doing, you can always draw from it.
@lisafrein: @BonnieAnn be genuine and know what you bring to the table that no one else can.
@vtrammell: @bonnieann we should have tape recorded my answers and i could have filled in!