These days, we hear a lot about the importance of building a “personal brand.” While that might sound like a corporate buzzword, there’s a reason it comes up so often: Your brand is about how you’re seen by the world—including clients, investors, and, yes, the boss.
In this three-part series, Fortune talks to experts about how women can use their personal and speaking style, body language, and online presence to create a powerful brand for themselves.
For our third installment, we talk to Karen Leland, founder of marketing strategy and implementation firm Sterling Marketing Group.
If personal branding is a murky concept, then the idea of “online personal branding” can seem like an even more nebulous idea to some. Yet an individual’s online brand is, explains branding expert Karen Leland, is essentially the same as his or her brand in “real life”—it’s just about how you present yourself virtually.
While in person, our personal brand is communicated through our appearance and behavior, when it comes to online branding, it’s all about search results. “When someone Googles you, what comes up? How are you seen? What’s on your LinkedIn profile?”
Leland points out that more than half of employers will search for their potential hires on social media. CareerBuilder‘s annual online survey found that 59% of hiring managers now use search engines to research candidates.
“We’re living in a world where one of the ways you make a first impression is online,” she says.
For executives who are trying to hone their online brands, Leland has four big pieces of advice:
1. Perfect your LinkedIn profile
“LinkedIn is the place where you have to absolutely be perfectly positioned,” says Leland, who advises all professionals to keep their profiles on the network complete and up-to-date.
2. Set up a Google alert on yourself
“That’s one way to track what’s coming up about her and to follow it and to correct anything that might be inaccurate,” says Leland, who also recommends Googling yourself to make sure that all the search results that come up are ones you are comfortable with.
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3. Clean up your search results
If a Google alert or search yields a result that you are not happy with, Leland says that removing it can be as simple as emailing the organization or the people responsible for putting it up there.
4. Create content that reflects your expertise
Writing thought pieces in your area of focus “can make a huge difference in going from a mid-level executive to a more senior executive,” she says.
Click here to read the second installment of this series, in which communication coach Mary Civiello talks you through how to figure out what your personal brand is.