When was the last time you thought about your digital footprint?

From your personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, to more professional outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter, what trail are you leaving for the world to see and what does it say about you?

According to New Work Consulting Founder and Managing Director Julissa Shrewsbury AFAIM, you may not even be aware of the information people can find about you online.

“Your personal brand is already out there whether you are aware of it or not, and it is online even if you are not online much
yourself,” she said. 

As the internet has become ingrained in our daily lives, chances are you have tallied up a fair amount of digital data across the years.

Social media usage alone is increasing year on year in Australia – up to 76 per cent in 2017, according to the Sensis e-Business

Report 2017.

A simple Google search on yourself will map your digital footprint across the online sphere and show you what potential clients
can see.

“Everything about you online is all a part of the picture of who you are, and it is easily found,” Ms Shrewsbury said. 

“Social media privacy policies change frequently, so if you haven’t checked your settings in the last three months, your social media profiles might not be as private as you thought.

“And if you’re not on Facebook, have you checked what your friends have put on there? Chances are you are on there somewhere.”

Working with clients across Australia, Ms Shrewsbury is a leading professional brand strategist and LinkedIn influencer who teaches clients how to build a personal brand online.

“Our first impressions are increasingly being made online,” she said.

American Media Consultant Roger Ailes famously said it takes just seven seconds to make a first impression. 

“Once you have made a first impression, it takes eight more positive interactions to change an opinion, according to research,” Ms Shrewsbury said.

So how do you make sure you project the right impression from the get-go? The first step to mastering the art of personal branding is to take a step back and work out exactly what you want to communicate, according to Ms Shrewsbury.

“The brand is really a message about who you or your company are and the values within that,” she said.“If you have a well-defined brand people will connect with you because you are offering value, something human and a personality to connect with.”

Ms Shrewsbury advises clients to look for something unique to their competitors when developing their personal brand. 

“Author and one of the pioneers of personal branding Daniel Priestley said you are already standing on a mountain of value; your story is valuable, your experiences unique and you are worth your weight in gold just the way you are,” she said.

Offering strategies for how to uncover your uniqueness, Ms Shrewsbury advised focusing on what you can offer others and the elements of your personality that people connect to.

“Think about the times you have received emails or thankyou cards and what kinds of things people have said in them,” she said.

“Do you tell jokes to break the ice? Are you a great storyteller? Or are you empathetic and understanding of others?”

Equally important is to be mindful of your look online. 

“In person, this could be the way you look, hold yourself, speak and what you wear,” Ms Shrewsbury said.

“While online, you can communicate it through photos and in particular
professional headshots.”

According to Ms Shrewsbury, working with a professional photographer will help you to communicate the right message.

“A skilled photographer will offer direction, be able to tell you how to stand and what angles work best for your face shape,” she said.

Establishing a successful personal brand online requires both strategy and careful thought, combined with a passion to project to the world, according to Ms Shrewsbury.

“Think about the activities in your role that make you forget about time and give you purpose, because those are the things that will shine in your personal brand,” she said.

“Passion is contagious; if you love what you do and you love to make a difference for people, they will notice that and want to work with you.

Cassie Gunthrope is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.