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Digital presence – Personal Brand building.

Digital-Footprint

“Don’t think you are. Know you are.” This quote by Morpheus from The Matrix has always stayed with me and I find it apt for this post on owning and managing your digital being. For us today, simply existing in the real world is not enough. We also need to have an online presence that resonates with who we really are. These days, many people will look you up online before they meet you in person. It is this digital profile that creates people’s perceptions and expectations before actually meeting you in person. From business associates, clients, potential employers to investors, founders, and incubators, everybody makes sure to take a look at your social profile before forming an opinion. And it’s not like there is anything you can do practically to avoid this. Unless you are literally living under a rock, you will invariably have a digital presence. Then why not take control of what it reflects?

As a simple exercise, do a quick search with your name and see what pops up. Do you like everything you see? Do you believe it stands for an accurate representation of you? You can begin to build your brand from there. Keep in mind these basic guidelines:

Personal or Business. It can get a little hard to maintain the difference between personal accomplishments to business networking. But this is important. A good place to start is to keep these tools separate. For example, LinkedIn is a social network for professional contacts. What you share there should be strictly business. Engage in knowledgeable conversations and post work related updates. Twitter is another good example. Sharing a witty update here is actually quite alright. Of course, there might be a situation that, although is personal, the accomplishment is worth sharing everywhere. For example, if you’ve done a vigorous and challenging trek – you could share it on your professional network.

Consistency. You’ll probably hear a lot of this word. And that’s good, because this is a very important aspect of managing your digital presence. Whatever you choose to post, consistency is the key. Consistency across all your profiles in the digital world acts as a positive signal for anyone who looks you up.

Promote Yourself. There is no shame in a little self promotion. I’d even go as far as saying it’s healthy for you. What this means is capitalise on any opportunity to promote yourself. If you’ve written an article or are speaking at a conference – no matter how small or big. Find out if you can get the video clip of your session. Use this. If you have a little (or big) award from somewhere, a letter of appreciation from someone important, don’t hide it away. Feel free to let others know about your accomplishments.

Keep your profile information up to date. It is very easy to forget about the endless profiles you have and never update them. This should be avoided. Either have a very limited set of social media profiles or make sure they are all linked to be updated simultaneously. It does not bode well to see a twitter profile that was last active 5 months ago. Always make sure that your current work information is up-to-date. Professional networks like LinkedIn or Behance need to be current. Be aware of what is written about you. Set up alerts for any mention of your name in the digital world. You should know what your profile goes into and if you approve of it.

Blogging. Having and maintaining a blog is a whole category to itself. A blog is an extremely powerful tool to have for your personal brand. A well maintained blog gives the reader a very positive insight about the author. That said, a blog is not for everybody. Don’t have one for the sake of having one. A poorly written blog can do more harm than not having one.  

A key tip to remember is not to project a certain personality that you like onto your digital presence. Try and keep it as close as you can to your real self.

Thinking of working in a Start-Up? Read on.

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Achtung! The Startup fever is high and they are on the lookout for talented people to join their team. Let’s broadly classify the start-up folks into two categories. On one hand you have people founding start-ups and on the other, you have people wanting to work in said start-ups. This post is addressed to the second category: the one’s wanting to work in a start-up.

Working in a startup might sound tun and just what you think you’re looking for, but remember that the startup life is not for everybody. Consider some of these points to assess for yourself if working in one is your cup of tea.

Change is the only constant. This age old saying rings true in the case of startups. Whatever else you might have expected, expect this. Since a startup is constantly evolving and figuring out what works best for itself, everybody associated with the startup also needs to evolve. From simpler aspects like office space, to more prominent ones like project direction and scope are all part of the evolution process. Working in such a climate requires you to be able to go with the flow.

That’s not part of my job description. This phase does not exist in a startup. Were you hired to drive marketing efforts, but find yourself often doing so many other things? This fluidity in your work profile is a classic example of how a startup works. If you can cope with multitasking, this is actually quite a boon. You get to learn so much. You get a front row perspective on how a startup works. No job is too small in a startup, be that getting coffee, taking out the trash or locking up.

Expecting a big fat pay check: This one is rather important. Startup life has been significantly glorified. When you interview for a startup, chances are that what you currently make is way beyond their budget or just about within. Let’s not pin our hopes on a huge pay increase from what you’re currently making. Most startups can at best match that number, if even that. What they can offer you though is perhaps equity or stock options. At the very beginning, this means nothing and it may always mean nothing, but if you’ve joined a startup that goes on to become a Facebook, then it means a whole lot. This is a risk you’re taking; assessing this risk is your responsibility. It’s up to you to keep up with news and happenings around the world in the business you are in. That said, if the startup clicks, the payoff can be quite huge!

Work-Life Balance? What’s that? While a start-up offers you flexible timings, you will be spending a lot more time at work. Long days, late nights, all-nighters are all very common. In fact, this is what qualifies as a significant part of team bonding. Long hours usually mean free food and beverages. Know this before you start working for one, if you prefer a nine to five job with evenings free to do your own thing, you’re not in the right place. Having said that, founders recognise the threat of a burn out and various measures are taken to avoid such a situation.

Growth. As a startup grows, the policies will evolve. For example, if you were given free food as a perk, this may no longer be practical with a bigger team. Usually when smaller perks are taken, they give way to long term and more promising perks, like Provident Fund, Insurance, or Bonus. When the company starts to do well, or has raised a round of funding, the founders see this as a good time to bring in someone senior and more experienced for specific roles. As a core team member, you should welcome such talent and not view it as a threat. They are there to teach you and take the start-up forward.

While this list is not exhaustive, it would give you a clear idea on what to expect. Keeping these arguments in mind, make an informed decision on whether the startup life is meant for you or not. If you decide that this is the life for you, prepare to enjoy the amazing experience, but also be prepared for a bit of a roller coaster ride. Good luck!

 

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