At one point, our professional personal brands are surrounded by a lot of ‘white space’.
Your personal brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – people’s collective experience of having come into contact with you over time and formed an opinion as a result.
Early days there is probably not much in the way of public perception of the ‘professional you’, if only because people don’t know you well and your networks are under-developed.
But over time, this changes with a succession of new roles and/or new jobs.
And slowly but surely (or quickly, if you have your act together), you will make new connections, attend industry events, and start building your nascent network.
Pretty soon, the white space starts getting taken over by other people’s perceptions of you, rightly or wrongly.
Unless you do something proactively to influence the way people think about you, their opinion will be what counts. They got in first. They filled up the white space.
Hence, the goal is to try and fill the white space yourself by publishing your own content, actively participating on social channels, being useful and helpful, speaking at events, adding value publicly.
Because if you don’t fill the white space, someone else will.