Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Given in-person encounters have decreased significantly over the years, especially post-pandemic, how people identify, connect and communicate with you is primarily digital. Your digital brand is the basis for your public identity and often the first thing people look at — regardless of personal or business context — if they want to learn more about who you are. Creating and maintaining a digital footprint of “you” is not an option in the modern world; it is a requirement if you wish to be known, control the message about who you are, and, more importantly, whom you are actively becoming.
Appropriately representing the many facets of you online is critical. Some individuals limit their brand to a self-described business job brand, a self-limiting practice. For example, a feeble introduction could be, “I’m an accountant that works for Company X.” The focus is on Company X instead of on you! Of course, there is nothing wrong with being an accountant, but how many would want that label to sum up their lives after they are gone? Is Oprah “just” a talk show host? Is Arnold Schwarzeneggar just a bodybuilder? Lady Gaga just a singer? Certainly not.
Building your brand is about exploring, growing and celebrating your many characteristics. The truth is people generally are attracted to and interested in well-rounded individuals. Many skills are portable and reusable across fields and can unexpectedly create opportunities. Talented attorney in the courtroom? Perhaps you could be a voice or stage actor! This kind of thing happens and can happen all the time.
You don’t necessarily have to be multi-disciplinary to be multi-faceted. Properly balancing your life is also worthy of admiration. Successful at business but about to die because of poor health? Such extreme examples of single-thread mindsets immediately show the value of being well-rounded, balanced and attending to all of the fundamentals. This applies not just to wealth but also health, hobbies, family, relationships, downtime, meditation, etc. “Living-on-a-single-rail” folks that ignore their other needs besides work are out, and individuals that show all of their dimensionality are well-respected.
Accordingly, your personal digital brand should convey to the world the many facets and dimensions of your past, present, and, most importantly, future. How does the world find that well-rounded, multi-faceted version of you and get to know you through your content? Your brand can be a door-opener or not.
What will prompt the people you want to connect with to engage or not? It’s up to you. Just as there are endless ways to improve yourself, there are endless ways to improve your “digital twin” online, showing your depth and breadth of interests, activities, and accomplishments.
Thinking of your personal brand as the “business of you” can be helpful. For example, if your current path is to succeed in every role you currently serve, and you feel it is balanced, your online presence should sum up those roles and convey this approach. For example, philanthropy, volunteering and public service are commendable activities. Sometimes skills acquired or the individuals met while occupying these roles can lead to actual, money-making side hustles or a new full-time position.
Thus, having an entrepreneurial mindset about yourself and your digital presence can significantly expand your possibilities. The world must also know and be able to find out about these facets — what your main “gigs” are, your side gigs, charitable works, community activities, areas where you’ve succeeded, and everything else that makes you exciting or prompts further engagement.
How about that recent cooking class you took? Continuous learning is a desirable attribute to advertise. The old world emphasized formal education. The new world (thank you, Elon Musk, who is particularly vocal about this) knows some of the best education IS NOT formal; it is and can be self-driven and self-taught since almost all information is available on the Internet for free. Knowledge is power, no matter how you’ve (legally) obtained it.
Transcend the past of being put in a box by your friends, family, employer, or worse, yourself. Move past your old self, and make a conscious effort to objectively understand, embrace, record and advertise the many facets of you. Tell the world about your many beautiful characteristics, which may reveal your hidden potential and greatly expand your future possibilities. It’s never too late to start creating or transforming your digital brand, so why not get started now?