The word “personal brand” is thrown around a lot these days, but, if you asked most people to define it, they would probably mumble something about LinkedIn and change the subject.

This is a shame, because “personal brand” actually has a very precise meaning, and one which is particularly important for people in business who want to market themselves effectively.

Because, in a social media age, potential clients can be watching you anywhere.

According to Zahrina Robertson, author of Magnetic Branding, your personal brand “encompasses your skills, who you are as a person, and how you convey that to the marketplace to show how good you are”.

In short: it’s about matching your personality to your career. Or, more importantly, crafting and displaying your personality to people in a way that matches your career.

A decade ago, cultivating a personal brand meant printing lots of business cards and attending lots of networking events, but the rise of professional social media networks such as LinkedIn, as well as the ubiquity of professional social media accounts and business websites, mean that now the business battlelines have shifted.

Robertson describes this process as a shift from networking to “netweaving”.

“Instead of people pushing their business cards under your nose, the connections we are expected to make now are much more subtle,” she says. “The term netweaving means that, instead of networking or ‘net-pushing’, business today is more about relationships and a softer approach to dealing and meeting with other people.”

Netweaving can be acts like following certain people on Twitter, or sending LinkedIn requests.

But, don’t throw your box of business cards into the recycling just yet. Julie Lamberg-Burnet​, founder and director of the Sydney School of Protocol, says a physical business card can still be useful, although it should be coupled with a professional online presence.

“Even in the age of Instagram, it is about your relationships and, as such, small talk and face-to-face meetings are here to stay,” she says.
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