THE BLOG

Me and My e-Self

14/01/2015 11:50 GMT | Updated 14/03/2015 09:59 GMT

A while back I introduced the notion & importance of Personal Branding. That said ... have you ever wondered how it used to be before the age of email, social networks and mobile apps? What was it like to do your job when the internet was not even invented? Let alone before the Google search engine was able to give you answers to any question you throw at it?

When it comes to reputation, it doesn't matter how we go about it - with technology it reaches more people and faster for sure - but the fundamentals remain the same. Having a sex tape online doesn't go viral if one is not already a popular figure! Agreed, some nail varnish blogger can be more popular online than offline, but that would be what I'd call a "child of technology and the hip-cycle"... a whole other debate.

Some things don't change

What is reputation really? Some would say it's the sum of our good deeds, some would say it's how we put ourselves forward and others would say it's what others think of us. A quick litmus test for me would be to see if the person's name rings a bell at all, in different circles. Online for instance, we would google our name. In the old fashioned way we'd be at a pub crawl and the name might or might not get mentioned. Why? It could be that he or she has won a Polo final, has run for Deputy or Mayor, or will be the next sweeper for a top Premiership club, or has suddenly become rich with his start-up (no pun intended). The reasons are plenty. You see where I'm getting at ?

If there ain't something to talk about you, you don't get talked about. Indeed I see gossip as marketing - direct and indirect. In other words, what others say about me and I say about myself. Ideally the two would concur.

Before there was offline

This is a personal intuition, but I firmly believe that by adapting the basic principles that still hold true today, we can then scale the reach using technology (internet, mobile, social networks and so on). The latter is only a tool to help expand an existing reputation - it doesn't create it.

A couple of months ago, I was at the Web Summit in Dublin (and a month ago, at Slush in Helsinki, another humongous event). The place was full. 20 000 attendants and big names were present, even the likes of Eva Longoria (hope I spelt it right!) and Bono. These guys were already popular before coming there while some others came there to rub shoulders with the web's finest. This highlighted two things for me - this type of event puts you in the limelight when you have a cool product, or you are a visionary leader or have already accomplished certain things ... and have been acknowledged so. However, what it doesn't do is make you famous overnight, nor does it help to build true long-lasting friendships or professional relationships. It's just a springboard if you know how to use it well.

If you were wondering, I only took back with me 50 business cards.

Is online another name for offline ?

The above observation also confirmed a growing feeling inside. There shouldn't be a distinction between online or offline.

The Web Summit proved it to me. Both have to work together - in the end all the companies present were web based / driven. Yet they all invested a not so insignificant participation fee and personal efforts to be present. At an individual level too, being able to balance the offline and online presence is critical to manage our reputation. Not only to press some flesh, but to actually "connect". Those of you reading this blog may not know me at all but through my writing may agree or disagree with what I say. And yet if we had a chance to debate it out, we'd be creating a deeper bond.

When I imagine any brand for instance, it's reputation would often stir up some emotion in me. Disney brings me to my childhood while Mazzerati takes me to my future richer self .... You see where I'm going with this ? These brands didn't wait on internet to create this link with me - the image they projected ever since did it.

Play politics

Where I grew up back in Mauritius, electoral campaigns never happened on twitter and everything was not as measurable as it is today. New functions have emerged - new metrics, new insights, new actions, new consumption patterns in terms of data and information ... too much maybe. To me, politicians are one of the best examples of personal branding - who else has to better manage his reputation (and his past lives) as a public figure in government.

So how does that translate to the average Joe? It might start with some hand shaking at cocktail parties, taking some public speaking class ... there are plenty of books and more qualified writers out there on the subject but my personal take on it is, that first it has to matter to oneself. I didn't take it seriously until I became an entrepreneur and I started seeing its impact in the broader ecosystem. Your own 'tipping point' could be round the corner.

Enough said about me, what does your name say about YOU ?