Most people would readily agree they have a personal life, but few would describe themselves as having a “public life.” Sure, we have our work life and our home life. Yet, we don’t usually think about having a “public” dimension to our lives. Politicians and celebrities have public lives. We do not. We are apt to believe our careers are part of a daily blur of activities and don’t really stand out.
Yet, to a large degree, professional success has always been driven by the positive regard of others. It shapes our reputation. And although we might not consciously make the connection, reputation exists by virtue of a public life. Sure, many of us have tended to be conscious of making the right “career moves.” Still, we’ve not usually thought of proactively managing our success in a “public life” context. The advent, and virtual explosion of social media, has changed that. Forever.
Today, if you want to be successful, you need to respond to the incessant demand to have a public life, especially as defined by the strength of your web presence. In fact, with 79% of US hiring managers and recruiters reviewing online information about job applicants, it means if you are not digitally visible, you don’t exist. So, the link between career success and showing up online is becoming stronger.
Fortunately, people are recognizing the need to anchor their careers (and lives) on the web. Just witness the explosive growth of professional networking site, LinkedIn, which has grown to over 50 million business users worldwide. Further evidence of the explosive growth of social media is reflected in Facebook’s average daily growth of 600 thousand new users, and Twitter’s 1,382% year-over-year growth rate as of February 2010.
Of course, today, web presence requires more than the static or passive web page. Sure, you’ll need to post profiles in online communities you join; and ideally, these will capture you in terms of unique attributes, motivated skills, and even proof of performance to demonstrate your value. But that’s just for starters. Especially since your personal brand truly comes alive in the way you engage others – both online and in face-to-face situations. So, you also need to think about your brand as conversation and not as pre-scripted messages!
Fortunately, the key to managing your public life is relatively simple. First, you need to show up in a way that is authentic; in other words, be yourself. Second, you need to take a genuine interest in others. After all, that’s what drives conversation! Yet, while the formula is simple, it helps to find and integrate the good advice and perspectives or others. And while there is lots of advice out there, I think you’d do well to take a look a terrific Chris Brogan post, Be Sexier in Person. It’s a great read, with great comments, and lessons you can apply across your entire public life!
Cross-posted at William Arruda's Personal Branding Blog.