Do chefs really need to care about social media?
In a word? Yes.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Your Personal Brand Design Blueprint Workshop, hosted by the British Columbia Chefs’ Association. Intrigued by the prospect of sharpening my skills on Twitter and LinkedIn, and developing my personal brand, I signed up hoping to learn more about how to effectively navigate the world of social media.
During the two and a half hour event, attendees learned about how to leverage the features and functionality of the world’s most popular social media networks, but ultimately, we walked away with much more. I gained a greater understanding of the benefits of developing and building my personal brand, and how driving it through social media can lead to future success. One of the greatest takeaways was the recognition that in addition to our work in the kitchen, chefs’ social media activity – specifically, the types of and depth of engagement we generate – has the power to boost our visibility, bolster our personal brands and the companies we represent, and influence significant future events, like new job opportunities or career advancement within an organization.
Guest speakers Michael Audet of Sysco Vancouver and Leeann Froese of Town Hall Brands shared a wealth of actionable tips and insights that can benefit professionals of all backgrounds and career levels. Here are a few of my favourite learnings from the event:
- Knowing your audience is vital. What are their needs, wants and areas of interest? How can you deliver the content they want, in a way they want it? Targeting your audience can only be effectively accomplished by digging into these areas.
- Authenticity rules.
- Be succinct to avoid your audience losing interest.
- All content and posts must align with your brand values. Avoid mixing personal content and business content; all activity is an expression of your brand and should remain clear and consistent.
- Think critically before sharing content with the online world. It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to retract or undo messages you’ve shared. Avoid negative repercussions to your personal brand by being careful when it comes to impulsive comments, content or interactions on potentially controversial subjects.
- For young people and those just starting out in their careers: be aware of how you present yourself online. Future employers will look you up before interviews. Revisit your privacy settings and revisit older posts that are publicly visible to ensure there is no content that undermines the personal brand you are attempting to develop or reinforce.
I have already begun the process of applying what I learned during the Your Personal Brand Design Blueprint Workshop. I have updated my personal profiles and my immediate goals are to learn more about my current audience and those I’d like to reach, be active on LinkedIn and Twitter more frequently, and grow my communities to connect with industry peers who share my interests. Social media is here to stay, and if you don’t get on board now you may lose out! Establishing a personal brand and using social media as a tool to drive it forward can feel daunting, but the sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits. It’s a learning process, and this event provided helpful guidance that I am pleased to share with others. I look forward to British Columbia Chefs’ Association hosting more workshops like this in the future.