How to Build Your Personal Brand Online, with Ryan Rhoten

Listen On:

Transcript

Find Your Dream Job, Episode 124:

4 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand Online, with Ryan Rhoten

Airdate: January 31, 2018

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac, of Mac’s List. Find Your Dream Job is presented by Mac’s List, an online community where you can find free resources for your job search, plus online courses and books that help you advance your career. My latest book is called Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s a reference guide for your career that covers all aspects of the job search, including expert advice in every chapter. You can get the first chapter for free by visiting macslist.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to build your personal brand online.

Like it or not, we live in a digital age where each of us has a personal brand. And the first impression we make will likely be online. Studies say more than 90% of recruiters will search for you online before offering an interview. Are you ready for this?

Our guest expert this week is Ryan Rhoten. He says a successful online personal brand has four parts. Ryan and I talk later in the show about those parts.

LinkedIn is one way to find people in your profession to ask for career advice. There are other online tools, too. Ben has found an app you can use to meet people in your field who want to swap career advice. He tells us more shortly.

You find a job you want and it’s at a company where you want to work. Even better, you have a friend on the inside who takes your resume to the hiring manager. Should you also apply online for the job? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Heather Fonseca in Los Angeles. Becky shares her advice in a moment.

First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

We turn to Ben Forstag who is out there every week poking around the Internet looking for books, tools, and websites you can use in your job search and career. Ben, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to share with you a resource that was shared with me by someone I know pretty well, Becky Thomas.

Becky Thomas:

Hey, that’s me.

Ben Forstag:

I understand she’s a frequent Find Your Dream Job listener.

Becky Thomas:

Oh, constant listener.

Jessica Black:

And co-host.

Becky Thomas:

Yes. I’m the biggest fan.

Ben Forstag:

Yes.

This is the Shapr app, it’s an app for your smartphone, whether an iPhone or an Android. It’s like a combination between LinkedIn, Tinder, and a slot machine.    

Jessica Black:

Whoa.

Mac Prichard:

Slot machine?

Ben Forstag:

Slot machine, yes.

Mac Prichard:

Okay.

Jessica Black:

So it’s randomized. Is that the key?

Ben Forstag:

Yes, that’s right.

LinkedIn is a great tool, we talk about it a lot. I think that the way a lot of people use LinkedIn is they contact people that they’ve already met in real life at a networking event, or they had an informational interview with, or they just know each other from some past employment. They connect that way.

But I know from talking to people that they really struggle sometimes with meeting new people on LinkedIn. Like folks that they might not have any connection with. It’s a little bit awkward to reach out to someone and say, “Hey, let’s talk”, or “I’d like to pick your brain about something”, or something like that. Obviously there’s easier ways to do this but I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with that. They feel like they’re imposing on the other person.

This app, it takes that idea of LinkedIn as a professional network, but people kind of pre-vet themselves and say, “I want to talk about x, y, or z”, whatever x, y, and z are. Sometimes it’s might be career stuff, it might be social justice, it could be your local community. You sign yourself up, you pick what things you’d like to talk about, and then this app matches you up.

I signed up for Shapr. Here, I can show you on my cell phone to prove it. Everyday, it goes through and it pulls out, “Here are twenty people you might want to meet.” They’re randomly selected from shared interests and shared location. Then, like Tinder, you swipe right if you’re interested in meeting that person, you swipe left if you’re not interested, your interests don’t line up. If both parties are interested in meeting, the whole goal of the app is to get you off the app and meeting in person so you can connect and build your network that way.

It’s a really interesting tool. I will say that I’m not sure if this is the next big thing or just a ship passing in the night. But I did sign up for it, I can see the possibilities here, and already like three or four people have reached out to me, and said, “Hey, let’s meet up.” They’re legitimate real people, not sales folks trying to sell me something.

I think it’s kind of interesting, and if you’re looking to grow your professional network in a new and interesting way, this is definitely something you should try out. It’s called Shapr.

Mac Prichard:

Great tip. Is this something you’ve used in your own job search, Becky?

Becky Thomas:

No, it just popped up as an Instagram ad for me like a week or two ago. I was like, “What is this? This is in line with my professional interests.” I went and checked it out and it just seemed like a really interesting concept. A way to meet new folks. It seems like a lot of entrepreneurs are using it, if they’re trying to meet people who are interested in their business idea or things like that. So like grow your network, especially if you’re looking to do a new project, or start a new job search, or something like that. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Jessica Black:

It really is a good way to meet new people that wouldn’t be in your same circles.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

But to bring them into your circles. It’s great.

Ben Forstag:

One of the things I like about it is it’s not this infinite list of people you need to sort through, it’s twenty people a day, or suggestions of, “this might be someone you’re interested in talking to.” Once you’ve swiped left or right, depending on what your interest is, with those twenty people, they say, “It’s okay. We’ll send you another twenty people tomorrow that you might want to consider.”

Jessica Black:

That’s good.

Becky Thomas:

You don’t spend all your time on it either.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Which has been a problem for some people with Tinder.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. On those dating apps, you could spend all day doing that.

Yeah, it’s one of those things you can do in like less than a minute, I think. But an interesting way to grow your network.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, so you can choose by city and subject area, and it sounds like from the conversation that it’s available across the United States.

Ben Forstag:

It is. I pulled it up, and there’s a fair number of people here in Portland, there are a lot of people from Seattle, which tells me that’s probably a bigger market for them right now. It’s all going to depend on the adoption in your local market but I’m guessing if you live in any of the top twenty, thirty markets in the country, there’s going to be some people to meet there.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well great. Well great tip, and if you’ve got your own suggestion for Ben, just write him. We’d love to share your idea on the show. His address is ben@macslist.org. I don’t think Becky sent Ben an email, because they have adjoining offices.

Ben Forstag:

Did you?

Becky Thomas:

I think I might have sent it in an email.

Ben Forstag:

I think she did.

Mac Prichard:

Wow, okay. Well you do share a common wall, so good to know that you’re communicating.

Now let’s turn back to Becky because she’s here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the mailbag this week?

Becky Thomas:

This week’s question comes from a fan of the show, listener Heather Fonseca of Los Angeles, California. Maybe a dozen episodes back, she submitted a question to us. I don’t know if you guys remember, but she asked about transitioning from working from home, and working part time while raising kids, to getting back into the full time job market. She emailed me again and had an update, and another question, which is really cool. Thanks, Heather, for following up. As she’s been looking for that full time job and transitioning back into the full-time workforce, she had a question. I’ll read it out to you guys:

“I’ve been searching for a full time job for the last few months. I know a lot of people in my field and have been industriously networking both online and in person.  A position has come up at a company where I would love to work. One of my friends who works there has offered to take my resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. I know from listening to your podcast that this is the best way to apply for a job, but I’m wondering if I should also apply online. Do you think it’s redundant or is this an important second step?”

Thank you, Heather. That is a great question.

Yeah, so basically she’s got an inside connection and she’s wondering if she should let that person do their work or if she should apply online as well.

I think it depends on where in the process you’re at. I had actually responded to her a little bit with some initial responses, because we’re recording this podcast a little bit ahead of time and I wanted to make sure she got her advice.

But I think that no matter where you’re at with this, you should have your application materials prepared for the job that you want. Whether you’ve got a friend on the inside who’s talking to the hiring manager or not. You should definitely have your cover letter written and your references ready to go for that job specifically. I think that even if your friend gets you a meeting or coffee with the hiring manager, and you get your foot in the door in a really great way, you’re probably still going to have to formally apply in some way or another.

Even if they’re like, “Take this job, you’re great”, and they don’t actually ask for your materials, I think that preparing those materials is going to get you ready to have those conversations, things like that. That’s definitely, I think, the best practice.

I know Heather’s friend had talked to the hiring manager already but I think that it’s good to give your friend, or your contact who’s going to go vouch for you, give them your resume so they can at least hand the hiring manager something to remember you by.

Then, if the conversation goes well and you do get your foot in the door, you have some special instructions from your friend to contact that person directly, then you can go ahead and submit your application to that person.

If they’re like, “No I don’t really want to meet this person. They can go ahead and apply online with the formal process. I’m not taking any side meetings or something like that”, then you’re application is ready to go and you can just send it off. That hiring manager will at least remember your name from the person who came in and talked to to that person about you.

Either way, you’re still better positioned to have your contact go in and talk to the hiring manager. I think that Heather’s done all the right things here and she got her application ready to go. Hopefully it all goes well.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, good luck, Heather.

Becky Thomas:

Any other thoughts?

Jessica Black:

I’m just going to jump in and say that, absolutely, Heather’s doing all the right things. I would suggest that if you can time it right, definitely having that person on the inside is amazing, and being able to submit the resume and cover letter physically through that contact on the inside is amazing. I would also apply online. Make sure that you are including that in part of your process. I would even, related to the timing part that I was mentioning, if you can submit your application online first and then have your friend on the inside, the next day or something like that, put the resume on the hiring manager’s desk and say, “Hi, my friend applied online. I think they would be a really good fit. Here’s the physical resume. Let me know if there’s any next steps that I can connect you to.”

Heather’s done the formal part of it but then there’s also the personal connection on the backside. That would be what I suggest.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I think you’re both right. I’ve actually heard from hiring managers that they sometimes have problems when they get an application outside of the formal application process. It’s really difficult for them, even if they really like the candidate, to get it back into the process themselves. If there’s a formal HR system, the hiring manager doesn’t want to sit there and manually type in all the information into that HR system about the candidate. You have a dead end even if you have an “in” with the hiring manager there.

If you take the approach of the internal process through the hiring manager, and the normal process through Human Resources, you’re covering both your bases there.

Becky Thomas:

So more is better.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I would add, it’s so terrific that she has this ally on the inside who can be a champion for her. One of the approaches she might consider taking with that ally, that friend, is just asking them for advice about this. Because in some organizations there is a very formal hiring process and even if you’re coming in through the back door, you still have to go through the front door.

But she’s got such a huge asset here by having someone on the inside looking out for her who can give her those insights.

Jessica Black:

That’s a good point.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. The chances are that the job is going to be posted publicly, you’re probably going to end up posting something or applying online, in addition to working your inside network.

Becky Thomas:

Yep. Good.

Mac Prichard:

This is exciting. I hope we hear back from Heather and how it goes.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, I’ll check in with her and update you guys. Thanks, Heather!

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well thank you, Becky, and thank you, Heather, for that question. I appreciate you coming back. I think we can offer her a second book if we want; we had someone who turned us down on the second one. Have you heard from Heather yet if she wants one or not?

Becky Thomas:

She actually didn’t get one the first time, because she left us a voicemail and I didn’t get her mailing address. It’s actually great because now we do have her mailing address and she’ll be getting a book.

Ben Forstag:

You better watch out, we’re going to get book wholesalers submitting us question after question after question.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that’s a long game.

Jessica Black:

But people do like the second book because they give it to their friends, or family. They give it as gifts.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I think that’s great. We want to get the books out there. We want to send you a book, anyone who’s listening out there. Just send Becky an email with a question and we’ll be sure we get something in the mail to you. Becky’s address is: becky@macslist.org. Or you can call the listener line, that’s area-code: 716-JOB-TALK. Or post a message on our Mac’s List Facebook page.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere.

We’ll be back in a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Ryan Rhoten, about how to build your personal brand online.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest exert, Ryan Rhoten.

Ryan Rhoten is a personal and digital branding strategist, a public speaker, and a podcaster. He is also the author of the book CareerKred: 4 Simple Steps to Build Your Digital Brand and Boost Credibility in Your Career.

He joins us today from Golden, Colorado.

Ryan, thanks for coming on the show.

Ryan Rhoten:

Mac, thanks for having me. It’s exciting to be here.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you as a guest.

Now, we’re talking about personal branding this week and how it can help job seekers, and people managing their careers. Ryan, when you talk about someone’s personal brand, tell us more about that. What do you have in mind?

Ryan Rhoten:

For me, personal branding is different than a personal brand. I separate the two, but a personal brand for me, and those who are listening, is who you are. It’s a combination of your skills, your traits, it’s how you do things, it’s why you do the things that you do. It’s really you being authentic to yourself and a lot of times that gets missed when we try to go create online, if you will, a digital persona that doesn’t quite translate from offline world to the online world. When I think of personal brands, I simply think of you and I as individuals and all of the skills and character traits that make us uniquely us.

Mac Prichard:

This is what makes us unique and today we’re talking about our personal brand online. Tell us a little bit more about personal branding online and how it’s different from what we might publish online. What should people be thinking about here, Ryan?

Ryan Rhoten:

Sure, I think the first thing that everybody needs to keep in the forefront of their mind, especially when it comes to their career these days, is that we live in a digital-first world. What that means is that each and every one of us, when we hear about something, or we hear about someone, and we want to learn a little bit more, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to go to Google and we’re going to look you up.

What that means is that you and I can make a first impression even while we sleep. It’s important for us, as we start to look at our online reputations, how we manage that, what we post, what’s out there about us, because when someone Googles us, that “zero moment of truth” when the top ten search results come up, what they find about us online becomes their perception about who we are as people and what we’re capable of doing. If you haven’t taken time to cultivate what that perception can be and demonstrate your expertise online, you could leave someone with an impression that you don’t want them to have.

I think it’s really important, especially today, hiring managers that I’ve interviewed on my podcast, recruiters I’ve talked to, all of them, one of the first things they do, as soon as they get your resume, after they’ve scanned it, they go and look you up online. I think that people really need to keep that in mind.

Mac Prichard:

People are going to Google us online and look for us online. How much control do job seekers and people managing their careers have, Ryan, when it comes to determining what pops up? Because I think that many listeners get it, particularly people who have been following this show for awhile. They understand they’re not supposed to put up their college spring break photos on Facebook. But beyond that, once you get through those basic do’s and don’ts, what can a listener do to take control of their online image?

Ryan Rhoten:

I mean, you can do a lot more to control your online brand, your online persona than what you think you can. Probably the single best thing that you can start to do for your career is to demonstrate your expertise online. One of the ways that you can insure that your name comes up in a favorable light is by the content that you post online.

If you’ve followed the steps, for example, in my book Career Cred, where you define what your brand is, and you’ve  integrated it correctly online, then you create all of the different pages and links that you need that Google recognizes that you are you. Then you need to start creating some type of content, so that you can let people know, as a friend of mine, Mark Miller, who’s also a career coach, once told me, “You have to let people know that you know your stuff.”

The best way that you can do that today is by posting content online. As you said, that’s not content of you on Spring break. Although some of that stuff is okay in the right context. I think that’s the other part that people really need to understand is the context in which they post whatever it is they’re posting. Whether it’s a blog post, or a picture, or image, or a video. You need to be wary that all of those things, when taken in totality, create an image of you, and a perception of you, online. You really have to be cognizant of what you post.

Also being consistent in what you post and being congruent in what you post, meaning that you’re posting about the same things the majority of the time online. All of that will help you control that perception that someone can have of you when they first search for you online.

Mac Prichard:

In your book and in your blog, Ryan, you lay out four basic parts to having a successful online personal brand. Why don’t you take us through those four parts? If you could just give us the headlines, what are the four parts, then will you take us through the first one?

Ryan Rhoten:

Sure, the four steps are: define, integrate, create, and engage. I put those together in a nice little acronym that I refer to as D.I.C.E. But each step builds upon all the other ones. It’s just like walking upstairs, you can’t leap four stairs to get to where you want to go. Well maybe some people can but when you get there you’re going to go as far as you could have if you followed the steps.

If we start back at the define step, it’s really understanding who you are, how you add value, and most importantly, what do you want to become known for? What do you want someone to find when they search for you online? In the book, I’ve got a bunch of different exercises that can help people identify what their brand is and also start to really focus in on what they want to become known for.

Then once you have identified what that is, now you can go and begin to create your online persona in the integrate step. You’re really integrating your offline brand at this point to the online space. This is where I see a lot of people mess up, if you will, because they just go and create a bunch of stuff online and they haven’t really defined what they want to become known for or how it can help them in their career.

That’s why you start with define, move into integrate, and now we start to build that online persona and we really need to be congruent with all of the different spaces that we exist on online, whether that’s social media, or a website, or what I like to refer to as a personal brand landing page, like an about.me.

Once you’ve integrated online, as I was talking about a second ago, you have to start to create content, and when you create content, that’s really where you start to demonstrate expertise online. That’s how people know that you know your stuff. Because without the creation of the content, you can say that you know a lot of stuff about things, but people won’t actually buy into it unless you’re continually putting out something that says, “Hey, I not only what this stuff is, but here are my thoughts on them.”

Then the last step in the process is, as you’re putting out your content and you’re creating content online, you’ll start to notice that people will begin to engage with you, which is the last step in the process. Engage is like my secret code word for networking because a lot of people don’t like to hear the word networking. But that’s mostly because they approach networking wrong and they think of it as like a speed dating game, where you go to this place and everybody stands around and hands out business cards. It doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, in today’s day and age, it’s a lot easier to network with people via social media than it ever has been before.

You just need to remember that when you get on social media, you’re looking to have  conversations with people, not conversions. When you’re networking, you’re building those relationships, you’re having those conversations. I like to say that you can actually put together a “connection strategy” which will help you engage and build your network.

Mac Prichard:

I like that model a lot and one of the advantages I can see it offering to people, particularly those who are interested in moving to a new field or profession, is that they may be doing one kind of work today but they want to do something else. I think you had this experience personally, Ryan, and I imagine some of the people you’ve coached have as well. You can use this approach to begin to define yourself in a new way, can’t you?

Ryan Rhoten:

Absolutely. In fact, if you go and you look me up now, you type in my name, Ryan Rhoten, what you will find are a lot of things on branding, and personal branding, and all of it was things that I was building up on the side of my day job, which I was known for being an operations and supply chain person. But I knew that I wanted to switch and change careers at some point, so I began to build up my desired direction, if you will, what I want to become known for, on the side through the content that I was creating. Whether it was a blog post, or a video, or a podcast.

Now, when you go and you search for me, what you will find is, as I said a minute ago, a lot of stuff on branding and marketing, and that’s what I wanted to become known for. I was able to build that up and demonstrate my expertise over the last several years.

Mac Prichard:

Now, the principles you’ve outlined are very clear. I can imagine listeners wondering about just the practical steps that are involved. When you look at the nuts and bolts of this, Ryan, are people, for example, once you’ve got your brand defined and you know where you want to go… but when you’re talking about content and creation, how much work typically, does this take during the course of a week? Are people creating blog posts? What kind of content do you see people successfully create and how much time does it take?

Ryan Rhoten:

Yes, you have to create content.

Mac Prichard:

You do.

Ryan Rhoten:

Right. But it can take as much or as little time as you need it to take. When I was doing it, I used to spend about an hour a day. I would start out with a rough framework of, “This is what I do.” Then I would write a blog post about it. What you find is, in the beginning, you can struggle a little bit, because it’s difficult, it’s not really easy to do. I have some exercises in the book to help people stimulate the ideas that they have, and how they can take those ideas and turn them into content that they can create.

I interviewed Claudia Altucher on my podcast, and she introduced this concept to me called, The Idea Muscle. She’s actually got a book, it’s called The Idea Muscle, it’s a really good book, I recommend it. But the whole premise is that we have these ideas, we have these thoughts in our minds, around our areas of expertise, that are just back there. Like exercising, when you’re trying to increase the strength of the muscle you have in your body, your brain also has an idea muscle that’s there, but the more you exercise and the more you use it, the easier it becomes for you to create and come up with content.

In the beginning, you probably need to spend a little bit more time, to think through what you want to post, how you want to write it, but most important in the beginning is that you hit publish. Put your thoughts out into the world and you can rest assured that when you get started, you probably won’t have a lot of people paying attention to you. I like to call that, that’s your time of anonymity, which means that you have a period of time once you start to do this where people really aren’t paying attention but you’re able to exercise your idea muscle and begin to develop your craft and it will become more natural for you to create content.

What started out as an hour a day, three or four days for me to come up with one blog post, I’m now able to knock out blog posts in less than an hour.

Mac Prichard:

But Ryan, how do you separate the personal and the professional online? What we’ve been talking about is creating content that’s going to help someone either in their field or perhaps move to a new sector, but people are also going to be posting on personal social accounts as well. Certainly Facebook, or maybe Twitter, or sharing personal pictures on Instagram. How do you strike a balance between those two?

Ryan Rhoten:

Yeah, great question. What I coach people to do is, in the beginning, when you’re trying to lay the framework for becoming known for what you want to become known for, post more professional than personal. People will come to expect more professional stuff from you. Get your thoughts out into the world, start to build that reputation, especially if you’re going to change your career. You want to let people know that you know your stuff, so you need to post a lot more professional stuff initially. I always coach people that eighty to ninety percent of what you put out online should be professional in some manner. Now you can add a little bit of personalization to it, but it should relate directly to what you want to become known for.

Then, over time, you can begin to bring those percentages back down. Like today, I probably doing a sixty/forty split, professional versus personal. But the reason I do that is because I think it’s important for people to… Like, now that I’ve got a reputation for personal branding, digital branding in an online marketing space, I think it’s also important for people who want to engage with me, for them to be able to see the personal side of me. Now I’ve reached a point where I can start to back off of that eighty to ninety percent, and I’m probably in the sixty/forty.

Initially, a lot more professional stuff than what you do personal and then you can start to dial those back as time goes on.

Mac Prichard:

You talked earlier about the amount of time somebody might spend on a daily basis doing this kind of work and online branding. How long does it take, Ryan, in your experience, for people to see results? When do they start to stand out online? Is it after three months, six months, a year?

Ryan Rhoten:

Well it depends on the space that you’re going into. I used to be a product manager and if I wanted to become known as a product manager, I’m competing against a whole bunch of different people. It’s going to take me longer.

I like to think of rather than think of a time frame it’s going to take, think of being consistent and putting something out each and every week. Just keep that going and what will happen is… and you’re not just going to post on your blog either, you’re going to post content on LinkedIn, you’re going to post it on social media. You’ll be repurposing the one thing you create in many different media outlets. As you do that, you start to gain more exposure, you start to gain an audience. Depending upon you, and your personality, and how you write, people will either be attracted to what you’re creating quickly or it may take them a little bit of time.

There’s really no set time frame that says, “Hey if you do this for three months, you’re going to become known in this space.” That’s just not the way it works. What I want people to think about is, just be consistent. Get your thoughts out once a week, put something out on LinkedIn, put something out on your blog, respond to some comments to people. Obviously in the engage step, the more you engage with other people, the quicker you can become known for your subject or topic. But if you’re just strictly looking at, “Hey, if I put out content once a week for so many weeks I’ll get found on Google”, it just doesn’t work that way. It’s a combination of how well you’ve integrated your brand online, the content you create, and how much you engage with your audience.

Mac Prichard:

We’ve talked a lot today about content creation, but I want to go back to the start of the interview and just talk a little bit about branding because I think certainly one of the challenges we see with job seekers is being clear about who they are and what they offer. Branding lets you get very clear about that, doesn’t it?

Ryan Rhoten:

It can, yes, absolutely. For me personally, and actually I find that with most of my clients, this method really resonates with them, there are several different ways that you can start to define your brand, but I find the best way is to take assessments. That’s through assessments like strengthsfinder. I like another one called fascination advantage by Sally Hogshead; then there’s also a free one that is actually really good, I’ve started to recommend it to a lot of people, it’s called 16 Personalities. You can find that at 16personalities.com. But as you take these assessments, and I’ve heard some people say, “Well I taken assessments and it’s not been very accurate.” Well I can tell you, I’m like an assessment junkie, and when I take all of my assessments and I put them all together, and I look at all the commonalities between them, I can’t even put together a Venn diagram where you have overlapping circles because the circles almost become one. When I look at the assessment results and compare them to my career, it’s really kind of scary how close these assessment are to real life and what I’ve done and what I want to go do.

I recommend people who are really stuck and just don’t know where they want to go, or where they could take their skills or traits, take an assessment. Don’t just take one, take a couple, and look at the results between them and compare them. When you start to really look at them, and you look at your career objectively compared to the results, you’ll find that there’s a common thread that runs between all of them and that’s the area where you really need to focus.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I think having that picture is always helpful, particularly in figuring out what you want to do next or being able to persuade an employer that you’re the right person for the job that you want.

Ryan Rhoten:

Right, right.

Mac Prichard:

Well Ryan, it’s been a great conversation. Now tell us what’s next for you.

Ryan Rhoten:

Well I’m going to continue to focus on promoting my book, as you mentioned earlier, Career Kred, and focus on getting the word out. I really think that it’s important today to really build your digital brand online so that you’re ready when that recruiter or hiring manager looks you up and finds you online. But I also feel very, very strongly that it’s going to be even more important three years from now, four years from now, five years from now, as we become more and more, dependant if you will, in the digital age, on looking things up on Google.

There was a survey not long ago from Intel that said, “By the year 2020…”, which is basically two years away, “Forty percent of the workforce will be freelancers.” That means that those of your listeners who are tuning in right now, four out of ten of them could potentially be a freelance person. If you’re going to secure contracts with folks, if you’re going to work well as a freelancer, you have to have a good digital presence built up.

Just from that standpoint alone, people really need to think about what they put out online, because it’s important today and it’s just going to grow in importance in the coming years.

Mac Prichard:

Agreed. Well, excellent advice, Ryan. I know people can find out more about you by visiting your website at ryanrhoten.com. Ryan, thanks for being on the show today.

Ryan Rhoten:

Mac, thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Mac Prichard:

It’s a pleasure, take care.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’d love to hear from you all, what are the key takeaways you got from my conversation with Ryan about online branding?

Ben Forstag:

I really liked this conversation because I know a lot of people struggle with the idea of branding. I think it’s mostly the word branding that they don’t like.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it’s scary.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

It’s like marketing jargon.

Mac Prichard:

It’s kind of like networking. I think it puts people off a little bit.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. But your brand is really just who you are, that you’re a person who’s trustworthy and who’s reliable, whatever you are, that’s your brand. I think that idea’s gotten confounded with marketing jingle around branding.

I like how he made it simple and took it back to its roots about what branding is. I think the challenge a lot of people have, and he brought this up, is the idea that you have to be consistent and congruent with your branding. Sometimes on social media we’re all over the place with our random thoughts here or a photo there. I think that’s the real challenge, if you want to convey the purest essense of who you are as a professional, you have to be consistent and you have to think before you post. “Does this fit into a broader brand than I want to project out to the world?”

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point and I think that there’s also a misconception that… you want to be consistent and you want to be honed in and focused but there’s room to share multiple ideas of that same narrow focus. So you don’t have to just be only posting the same sentence or the same elevator pitch every time. There are ways that other interests can feed into your brand as well. But again, you have to focus in on what that is.

I liked his point about honing that in at the beginning, making it really strong when you’re first starting out. Focusing more on the professional side, then adding more of the personal side later, that sixty/forty, or whatever he said. Because I think that your personal interests and sharing what you do in your personal life can also reinforce your professional brand as well, because a lot of times, your professional brand is created because of your personal interests as well. It’s a full package and it does make it stronger, keeping it focused and narrow at the beginning, and then having other things reinforce it.

Ben Forstag:

I think you also have to be strategic about the audience that you’re reaching out to.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Ben Forstag:

Every social media platform has privacy settings. So for the photos of Spring break, I know, Mac, you recently posted some wild Spring break photos.

Mac Prichard:

How did you get by my privacy settings?

Ben Forstag:

Those are the kinds of things you limit to just your friends and family, but for content that’s available to the broader world, knowing that the broader world is going to look for you online in  a job search, that’s where you have to be really curated and strategic about posting consistent “on brand” content there.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I have a couple of quick things. One, the congruency, what you want to be known for, and I actually struggle with this because I run two companies, and one is Mac’s List which offers career advice, and the other is a social change communications agency, Prichard Communications.

Ben Forstag:

Pick a side, Mac.

Jessica Black:

I think they’re connected.

Mac Prichard:

They are, but it can be jarring sometimes if you look at my Twitter feed, the kinds of tweets I send out in a typical day. I, too, have discovered the benefit of sharing person interests, like Ryan was talking about, because often when I see people that I know professionally whom I haven’t seen in a while, they follow my Instagram feed. I post a picture there almost every day about some personal interest.

Jessica Black:

Or a site you see, or something you find interesting.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and people respond very positively to that.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it shows you as a human and what you’re interested in aside of just your professional interests and I think that’s the way to, in his engage step, that’s a big component of that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, absolutely.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, like you’re a professional but you’re not a robot.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, exactly.

Becky Thomas:

If you are only talking about one thing and not bringing in your personal excitement about it, or giving your take on it, or inciting some back and forth with people, nobody’s going to respond to your content.

Jessica Black:

It’ll be dry and bland.

Becky Thomas:

I think that’s something you need to keep in mind.

Mac Prichard:

I love that line, Becky, “You’re a professional, not a robot.”

Becky Thomas:

Put it on my tombstone.

Then the other thing that I think about around personal branding is, people get really worried about keeping up with it and being like, “I can’t just post all the time.” I think it’s important to know your level of ability to keep it up and not necessarily worry about having your own blog, but making sure that you’re posting on LinkedIn every week or every couple times a week.

Do what you can do, because if you’re forcing it and you try to do a lot and then you disappear off the map, that’s not good.

Ben Forstag:

Let me just throw this out there, in the balancing out consistency versus genuineness. You always want to air on being more genuine even if it’s less consistent.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, and the idea is to share what is of interest to you anyway, so hopefully if it’s interesting to you, you’ll be inclined to post more. I get what you’re saying and I agree, that there’s an idea that there’s a lot of pressure, and that steers people away because…. What is that line? “Perfect is the enemy of good?”

Becky Thomas:

Yes.

Jessica Black:

People get locked into, “I have to post once a week and it has to be perfect and it has to be completely honed in right from the beginning.” It doesn’t have to be that way. You can also grow with your personal brand; you don’t have to have it all locked in right from the beginning.

Becky Thomas:

You don’t have to know everything about the topic that you’re interested in.

Jessica Black:

That’s right.

Becky Thomas:

If you start talking about it, people are going to see you as a thought leader. You just have to start sharing opinions. That’s all.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, that’s all.

Mac Prichard:

Good, great advice. Well thank you all, and thank you, Ryan, for joining us this week, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

If you like what you hear, please sign-up for our free weekly newsletter.

In every issue, we give you the key points of that week’s show. We also include links to all the resources mentioned as well as a transcript of the full episode.

Subscribe to the newsletter now and we’ll send you our guide, the Top Career Podcasts of 2017.  Discover all the podcasts that can help you find a great job and get the career you want.

Get your free newsletter and podcast guide today. Go to macslist.org/topcareerpodcasts2017.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Jane Barrett. She’ll explain how to future proof your career.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Like it or not, we live in a digital age. Each of us has a digital presence, and the first impression we make for many job opportunities will happen online. Do you know what your personal brand is, and are you telling your story online in the best possible way? On this episode of Find Your Dream Job, our guest expert Ryan Rhoten explains how to set up a successful personal brand online in four steps.

About Our Guest: Ryan Rhoten

Ryan Rhoten is a personal and digital branding strategist, a public speaker, and a podcaster. He is also the author of the book CareerKred: 4 Simple Steps to Build Your Digital Brand and Boost Credibility in Your Career.

Resources in this Episode

  • New Tool: A new app to help you connect with local professionals who share your interests, passions, and career path – Shapr is a mix of LinkedIn, Tinder, and a slot machine.
  • Listener Question: Heather Fonseca of Los Angeles asks for advice on the best way to apply for a job when you have a contact “on the inside.” Do you still need to apply online? Short answer: yes, but use your connection for an additional boost. We weigh in with tactical tips.
  • From our Guest: read more from the brain of branding expert Ryan Rhoten on his website.