Personal Branding for Teens: 7 Steps to Teach and Learn It

The phrase “personal branding” is the new buzzword for marketers, coaches and companies.  Everyone is trying to create their personal brand.  Yet, everyone is starting too late.  Youth should also be thinking about their personal branding the sense of how they are managing their reputation and how others perceive them.  If you are a teen, coach, parent or teacher, check out the tips below to help develop strong and meaningful personal brands starting young.

1) Take It Down Needs to Be Paired with Put it Up

Teens are told over and over again by administrators and parents to get off Facebook, take down anything personal on social networks and make everything private.  I think this can be a little bit unrealistic and needs to be modified.

“Take down anything personal online”

Needs to be changed to:

“Take down anything that it is inappropriate online and put up what you would like other’s to know about you.”

2) It Will Build Without You

If you do not build it, the web will build it for you.  One thing I have seen with many teens is that they take down everything on social networks and then when people Google their name (potential employers, schools) they see a newspaper article written in 4th grade about a cheating scandal at a local school, or a bad sports game review, or someone else’s mention of your name in a nasty blog post.  The Internet will find anything they can about you, so you want the first three items to be controlled and created by you.

3) Make Firm Boundaries

Although, I recommend putting up information you would like people to know, it is important to make firm boundaries around what always should stay private:

-Contact information
-Birthdate with birthyear
-Financial information
-Social security number

And what might be private for you.  Some people do not mind talking about their family, others want to keep that very private.  Before you help a teen, or begin building your own personal brand, make a list of the things you want to keep private.  Here are some topics you need to think about exposing or not:

-Last name
-School information
-Family information
-Job history

4) Always Be Authentic

Creating an online personal brand or a personal brand in life, does not mean creating a new personality.  Often times, when I teach personal branding to teens, they think it means starting from scratch or creating a new or fake persona online.  Personal brands need to be based on who you really are so that you are being honest with the world.  It would be very bad to create a personal brand that is very business-like and professional when you are a warm and overly friendly person in real life, this will confuse friends, colleagues and potential employers.

5) Manage It

Just like teens want to know who is talking about them behind their back, you have to stay on top of what is being said or posted about you online.  An easy and free way I teach teens and families to do this is to set-up a “Google Alert” for their name.  You can go to google and search google alerts and this will allow you to ‘subscribe’ to your name.  This way anytime, someone posts your name you will be alerted in an email.  Often times it is not you, but this can also be helpful because you would not want anyone else to confuse you for them.  I made my mom set-up a google alert to her name and this is when she discovered that there is a porn star with her same name! She had no idea that potential clients had been searching her name and coming up with very bad websites.  We immediately created two professional social networking profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook and a mini website with her credentials on IMDB (she is an entertainment lawyer and producer) so that the first four things that came up for her were legitimate.

6) If Negative, Act Immediately

I also set my mom up with ReputationDefender.  If something negative is put up about you or your child, you must act immediately.  I actually subscribe to ReputationDefender because my online reputation is very important and I recommend all of my business clients or any business owner to do the same for their corporate brand and personal brand.  To combat cyberbullying I also often recommend ReputationDefender as the best way to stop anything threatening immediately and make sure that:

-what is online cannot hurt you or your child’s future
-what is online can actually help you and your child’s future.

You can check it out here.  Worth every penny, in my opinion.

7) It Is a Process

Managing your online reputation is a process.  As you develop, it develops.  Teens need to understand that nothing is set in stone and everything should be flexible.  Your online reputation also changes depending on what is written about you and how you respond to it.  This is ok, in fact it should change as you/they change.

We run school workshops for schools to help teach students the above skills and help them implement and mange their personal brand and online reputation for colleges and careers.  For more info on this workshop please visit here.

Our Life 101 Program for teens also covers a lot of the personal brand building one on one or in our bootcamp webinars.  If you are interested in this for your family please see here.

This Week’s Sponsor

ReputationDefender helps individuals, families, parents and business defend and protect their image, brand and privacy online.

Interested in sponsoring us?

3 Responses to “Personal Branding for Teens: 7 Steps to Teach and Learn It”

  1. Dan Schawbel
    May 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Vanessa, great article on personal branding. I think being a teenager is the perfect time to start building your brand, especially because most teens are either on Facebook, MySpace or both. Being smart about what you publish online, as well as what you include in your profile, is great advice!

  2. Vanessa Van Petten
    May 16, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Thanks Dan!


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