What is your personal brand?

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By Tyler Turnbull, a digital strategist from Toronto. Check out his blog at AdJoke.ca.

I had a great discussion recently about knowing your personal brand and it got me thinking – do people even consider their brand when they use the digital space?

Take Facebook as the prime example. If you’re under 25 and live in Canada, chances are that you’ve got a profile. There are, after all, over 5.2 million profiles that fit that description. So what’s on your profile? Information about yourself, what you’re interested in, a few applications (probably iLike and some others that you installed once and never thought of again) and your friends.

What am I forgetting? Pictures. Lot’s of them. Of you on vacation, at a house party, fooling around one afternoon at work, on a patio, jumping off a cliff in the summer…whatever. Most profiles have hundreds of pictures and these pics are open to the public – anytime, anywhere.

This isn’t a new thought. People – specifically those over 30 – are continually astounded about how much personal content people are willing to freely disclose about themselves online. Forget about personal data such as where you live and your phone number, and think about how much someone could learn about you from your newsfeed, who your friends are and whose wall your writing on. It can be a bit scary. Especially when you don’t realize it.

A few people in the last couple of days have asked to chat with me about how to get into the industry. It’s a tough time and people are looking for any edge they can – even if it does mean meeting a random ad guy. What’s the first thing I typically do when I get one of those calls or emails? Google them. The second? Go on their Facebook profile.

Why? Because that’s as close to the ‘real you’ as I can get prior to meeting you. It gives me a sense of your interests and your digital capabilities (in knowing what should be private vs. not).

Don’t get me wrong – up to a few years ago everything I had was totally public. Every drunken photo, random post, thought and feeling. Pissed at work? Tell all your friends. Angry at a co-worker? Blog it. Interested in a new job? Publicly send a post to a big recruiter on LinkedIn.

See the problem here?

Everyone knows what you’re doing online to some degree – especially when you’re the one explicitly telling them. So what you should do? Here are three tips:

1. Check your privacy settings on Facebook and create friend groups. Classify people you work with and play with in different categories. Is your mom your friend? If yes, she doesn’t want to see you shotgunning a beer on the golf course (trust me). You can find the setting on the navigation bar at the top of your profile under ‘settings.’

2. Think before you post an update – especially if you are doing it from your mobile. We’ve all been there. A frustrating presentation, brutal client feedback or a project that just isn’t getting off the ground. Let it out to your boss or coworker in a room – not on your world-wide feed. Posting something when you are mad is like drunk dialing an ex-girlfriend after 6 hours at a bar.

3. Remember that your boss is now online – this wasn’t the case a few years ago. I remember starting my job and seeing a big gap between who was using social networks and who wasn’t. I was never worried about the latest picture because I knew that nobody overly senior used the services I did. Now? They’re everywhere – and that’s a good thing. I’d rather work with a group of people who use all sites and are obsessed with digital. It just forces you to be a bit more thoughtful in what you broadcast to the world vs. your friends.

I’m not a privacy freak. In fact, I think I put more and more stuff (my opinions, thoughts, etc.) online everyday. All I’m saying – especially for those looking to break into the industry – is to be careful.

What is your personal brand? Give me your name and I’ll tell you.

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