In the 21st-century world, it’s pretty easy to create whatever type of online presence you want. Your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, and Twitter feed can show the world whatever it is you want to show. On episode 25, I mentioned making sure that your online brand is in congruence with how people experience you in person, and we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into that idea now, especially since clients and people who contact me by email are asking for more on this subject.
Congruence means compatibility, harmony, or agreement. Do these words bring to mind how others experience you in terms of the methods in which you interact with them?
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Are you put off by the word “brand” or the notion of personal or professional branding? Many nurses are. But you know what? Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. Honest. You may not think about it much, but you do. And if the term “brand” just turns your stomach into queasy knots of undigested lunch, try substituting “persona” in place of “brand”, and see if your lunch settles more easily.
I know we covered this subject of branding back on episode 25, and this is yet another take on this very important notion that nurses need to really understand and embrace.
For my part, I want you to consider adjusting to the use of this term that’s usually associated only with companies in the popular imagination.
The Online World, Employment, and You
When you submit your resume to a potential employer, what are wanting them to ascertain about you? When they read the accompanying cover letter, does it strengthen or weaken your resume? Does it continue to paint the picture you want them to perceive?
Now, when that potential employer logs on to LinkedIn to peruse your profile, is your profile in congruence with your resume and cover letter? Is the same basic message being clearly communicated? Will they notice any disparities between how you present yourself on paper and how you present online?
Moreover, if you happen to have a Twitter feed that’s not anonymous and is directly linked to you as a healthcare professional, how do you act on Twitter? How are you interacting with your followers and others? If a potential employer, or current colleague encountered you on Twitter or another social platform, what kind of experience would they have?
It’s one thing to nurture a personal/professional brand, but it’s another to have your online brand be completely out of character or otherwise misaligned in terms of how other experience you outside of that digital world.
Your In-Person Brand
Now let’s look at your in-person brand. One of the greatest compliments anyone can pay me is when they meet me in person—let’s say at a nursing conference, for instance—and they say something like, “You’re exactly like you are on Twitter! You’re just how I thought you’d be in person!”
Do you know why that makes me feel so good? Because I work hard to cultivate a brand that’s so authentic, so transparent, that when people meet me in person, they feel no cognitive dissonance between their perception of my online presence and how I act and talk when we’re breaking bread together at a conference.
Even as a clinical nurse, I attempt to do the same thing. When I’m speaking with a nurse, doctor, patient, or other professional on the phone, my intention is for my authentic self to shine through, so that when and if we meet in person, there’s no difference between the two.
So, there is ostensibly no detectable difference between my phone manner, how I leave a voicemail, the ways in which I interact with people on social media, and how I represent myself in person. My brand is intact, consistent, and congruent, and I implore you to think about this same notion vis-a-vis your own career and professional life.
Why Does It Even Matter?
You may ask why this even matters to you as a nurse working a hospital job, or seeing patients as a home health nurse. Well, it just does, and here’s why.
As you move through your career, you will have influence in the lives of many people, including patients and colleagues. Like I’ve said before, your brand is actually the experience that people have of you after having interacted with you. Whether it’s in the office, on the street, on Twitter, or via an email, your brand is what they’re experiencing.
Those nurses who are unconscious of their brand behave online in ways that can be questionable, or downright reprehensible. Granted, many of them are anonymous, but some of them are not.
Meanwhile, some nurses have resumes that scream experience and responsibility, but their LinkedIn profiles are as bare bones as they can be. Other nurses might state on their resume that they have excellent communication skills, yet they can barely string together a cohesive sentence during an interview. Another nurse’s resume might say that his written communication skills are excellent, yet his resume is filled with grammatical errors and his LinkedIn summary is very poorly written.
Your brand is impacted by so many aspects of who you are and how you move in the world. Once you understand and accept that notion, then you also must accept and internalize that the congruence between your brand as it’s represented online, in-person, and in written form must be balanced and make sense to those interacting with you.
Upon listening to this podcast, if you notice a lack congruence, harmony, or compatibility between some aspects of your personal brand, you have you some work to do. If it’s just a matter of tweaking your LinkedIn profile or updating your resume, that’s pretty easy. However, if your behavior or professional demeanor or skills are thoroughly different from what you have on paper, then you have some deeper rectifying to do in the interest of your brand.
If you need some advice from me in this regard, please reach out. Your brand is how other experience you. What experience are they having?
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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews New Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.