Your Brand and Your network

In undergrad, I once attended a résumé workshop hosted by business department faculty. They frequently used language that encouraged us, the attendees, to think of ourselves as a product. Our résumés are like sell sheets; they enumerate the benefits* of you and your skillet to your potential customer employer.

This is very similar to the concept introduced in the last post. With a résumé, you promote your brand to the professional world. With a Facebook page, you’re promoting your brand to the social world. LinkedIn’s business model is based on this similarity. Perhaps many of us would like to think of our social selves and our professional selves as two separate brands, but the paradigm of this new world is that they’re inescapably not.

To put it more explicitly, employers can and often do use the Internet to access information about individuals. But we don’t have to fear this; I wouldn’t want to work for an organization that decided not to hire somebody because of a picture of that person spilling their solo cup on their shirts.

The zeitgeist has reached a consensus: networks are the way to get a job. The concept is as old as mankind itself; family and friends have always hired each other, but the Internet has raised our awareness of it considerably. Some may believe their social and professional networks are compartmentalized. If that’s so, I don’t think the challenge in maintaining that separation over the course of their careers would be worth the trouble, but that’s me.

Of course there’s risk to hiring or recommending an acquaintance or a close friend. If he fails, it might inflict a little collateral damage on your own reputation.  My opinion is that overall, communication flows easily across friendly lines, and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy bit of social pressure not to fail.

The new proprietist paradigm is this: embrace your brand, and sell it well in both your social and professional spheres.

* “Sell benefits, not features!” -Paul Kurke Sr, a retired and hardened veteran of sales and sales training