10 Personal Branding Best Practices after 50 - dummies

10 Personal Branding Best Practices after 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

You will need to develop your personal brand if you are seeking a job after 50.Your personal brand establishes you as a relevant, credible expert in the field and enables prospective employers and recruits to get to know a little bit about you and feel a personal connection long before they ever meet you. It’s a key element in helping you land the job you want.

Check out these ten best practices for optimizing your personal brand’s impact.

Build your home base

Before engaging in a lot of activity on the web, build a home base — a personal website, blog, or combination website/blog, where people can find you online 24/7. Register your own domain name, yourname.com, for instant recognition. Your domain name is essentially your website address. If you have a common name, the domain may already be taken, so make a slight modification, such as adding your middle initial.

You can register a domain name and build a website/blog at any hosting service, including Bluehost.com, FatCow.com, and HostGator.com. The registration fee should be less than $20 per year, and the hosting fee should be less than $10 per month. As part of your hosting fee, you get an email account with your domain, such as billy@yourname.com, which helps reinforce your brand identity.

Pick a name and stick with it

If you’re Sam Bolene on your website, be Sam Bolene on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts and on every other web property you own. Don’t be Sam Bolene in one account and Samantha Bolene in another.

Use a branded email address

You can use an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com email address for unimportant messages, but for all your personal and professional correspondence, use your branded email address, which should look something like billy@yourname.com. Your branded email address not only enables people to easily remember how to contact your via email, but it also points them to your website, because it includes your domain name.

Stay active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

If you don’t have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, open accounts right this minute and start connecting with people you know. Networking is crucial to finding and landing the job you want, and these venues provide the most efficient way to start and grow your network. In addition, they give you an opportunity to drive traffic from heavily trafficked sites to your website.

Point everything to your website address

Nearly every social media and networking account allows you to add a website address to your profile. Be sure to add your website address to your profile for every account that allows you to do so. By pointing other properties to your website, raise its search engine ranking, so your site is more likely to appear near the top of the search results when someone searches for your name. In addition, if an employer or recruiter finds you on Facebook or Twitter, having a website address enables her to track down your site and find out more about you.

In addition, add your website address to your business card and all outgoing correspondence, including email messages. Email programs allow you to have a signature line automatically added to the bottom of all outgoing messages, and this signature line should contain your website address. Search your email program’s help system for information about how to create a signature.

Consider adding your LinkedIn and Twitter addresses to your business card and email signature, as well. You also may consider adding a Quick Response (QR) code on your business card that people can scan into their smartphones to go directly to your website.

Be consistent

To build a personal brand that has impact, be consistent in everything you say, do, and share online and off. The colors and fonts you choose, the status updates you post, the Twitter users you follow, the people you befriend and the pages you like on Facebook, and the professionals you associate with on LinkedIn all say something about who you are, what you do, and the employee you’re likely to be.

Use the same headshot for all profiles

Get a professional headshot and use it on your website/blog, for all profiles, and wherever you’re able to share it, so people in your communities can begin to recognize your face. Use a current photo in which you appear well groomed, properly dressed, professional, and relatively happy.

You don’t need to use the same headshot for all your profiles, but all the headshots you use should have you looking professional.

Post relevant, valuable content regularly

Content includes blog posts, status updates, tweets, comments, and perhaps even articles in online publications — any content that reinforces your personal brand in a positive way and gets you noticed. Demonstrate your expertise through what you post online.

Watch what you post

Be very careful when you post anything online, because context, facial expressions, gestures, body language, and other cues to clarify your meaning and tone, whatever you “say” is much more susceptible to interpretation. In addition, assume that whatever you post, regardless of your privacy settings, is totally publicly accessible, meaning that prospective employers and recruiters can access it. This may not be the case, but assume it is the case to be safe.

Don’t post any photos or allow your friends to post photos of you in compromising or unflattering poses or situations. Don’t post anything rude, crude, or otherwise offensive. Don’t post any disparaging comments about your supervisors or the companies where you work or worked. In fact, don’t post anything negative. Stay upbeat and professional even when hanging out with friends in these relatively public forums.

Keep tabs on your reputation and address problems immediately

Google yourself regularly and set up a Google News alert to notify you whenever someone posts newsworthy content about you or someone with your same name online. Address any content that may reflect poorly on you immediately to control the damage.

For more about personal branding best practices, check out Personal Branding For Dummies, by Susan Chritton (Wiley).