One of the themes I spend a lot of time on in my workshops on personal branding is the need to add your perspective to the things you share online.
This may seem like a very small thing given how people seem so highly opinionated on everything they share online, but on a deeper level, this is so very important precisely for that reason.
We, as humans, are opinionated. We do not need to escape that basic fact, and it is not a crime to hold or share opinions.
But there is a difference between an opinion and a perspective!
An opinion is a belief or a sentiment that you form.
A perspective is a view or an outlook that you build.
When you say “I like it” or “I hate it”, that is an opinion.
When you explain why you like it or hate it, that is a perspective.
In the former, you give the world a glance of what you think.
In the latter, you give the world a glance at how you think.
With opinions, you are questioning your own self, “What do I feel about…?”
With perspectives, you are questioning your own self, “Why do I feel X about…?”
Perspectives require effort. The first effort is to question yourself with repeated ‘why’s (and ‘why-not’s) to clear your own mind and get to the bottom of your feeling. That’s when you get to the “This is how and why I arrived at this”.
Both opinions and perspectives could be wrong, incorrect or incomplete. So, be open to alternate opinions and perspectives without holding only onto your own, as if only that matters. But, when presented an alternate opinion, all you can do is nod and move on – it is not a crime to hold alternate opinions and there can be multiple opinions.
But when presented with an alternate perspective, that is a wonderful way to expand your world-view and thinking. Knowing the difference between opinions and perspectives helps sharpen your focus with regard to the conversations you can have online.
There’s also a tendency for many people to worry incessantly about, “Am I adding something of value here? Isn’t it safe to just add a one-word or smiley and share it? What if someone feels my context is useless or pointless?”. But, remember: do not focus on those who would have formed the same perspectives as your own and assume that your point of view is useless. It may be useless to them but focus on those who may find value in your point of view, instead. If you focus on the former, you are pre-deciding that the whole world is thinking in only one direction.
For everything you say, there’d always be someone who’d say, “So, what’s new? Isn’t that obvious? That’s what everyone thinks about this – what value did you add by this, eh?”. Move away from this line of thinking and start with the fact that you are making it obvious to your own self first, as a thinking process and sharing it to those who may find some use in it too.
Our perspectives, when shared in public, help shape the way others think about us; so, our perspective—the way we articulate it, with what kind of words and what kind of tone—on something/anything, helps someone else form an opinion about us!
From a personal branding perspective, it is then all the more important to use your perspectives in a way that it adds to your brand. This also means you need to define your brand first, obviously, and this is the first half of my workshop, in excruciating detail. Sharing a perspective on anything you share online is a way to nurture your brand.
A simple thumb-rule to remember is this: when you share something online, do people recall what you shared, or do they also remember who shared it?
The former is very easy. That’s what 99.99% of all people do. It’s so very easy. Add a smiley or a simple context like, “Wow”, “Must-read” etc.
But turn that whole argument on its head and be absolutely selfish in the interest of your own brand: “How can I make people remember that it was I who shared this piece of content that the whole world is already sharing?”.
This won’t happen with just one share. It requires you to be consistently sharing your views on top of what is being seen as what everyone’s sharing (you don’t get ‘breaking’ shares very often, do you?) – the same video, the same link, the same PDF, the same news, the same report etc. But the more they see that you add value in terms of your frame of reference to consume/view/watch/read the same piece of content, they’d remember you, almost as much as the content itself.
If you do this consistently well, they might even remember you when they come across a piece of content that fits within the scheme of things you comment on and ask you, “Hey, I’d love to know what you think of this!”. That IS the hallmark of personal branding – in fact, that is a metric to realize that your brand is working! 🙂
If you have seen what I share on say Twitter or LinkedIn, you would notice this. Here are a couple of examples (the following are Twitter threads – do click on the link to see the full content):
How you frame your perspective, what kind of effort do you need to put into forming a perspective, how to articulate your thoughts, what kind of tone to use etc. are all part of my corporate workshops in a lot more detailing and done in a hands-on manner for the participants.
Cover pic credit.