Oprah Winfrey: Her Online Personal Brand and Your Job Search
Oprah Winfrey is unequivocally one of the most powerful women on the planet. She has met with dignitaries, set up schools in Africa, had some of the most televised interviews ever and been acclaimed for her influence by magazines and news sources across the world.
Her breadth of influence is a reflection of her personal brand which contains valuable lessons for job seekers as they look to get their ideal careers. Indeed, an examination of her personal brand will provide a blueprint by which to build a successful job search strategy.
Step 1. How Oprah’s Personal Brand was Built
Oprah’s early beginnings are well-chronicled: born in abject poverty and raised by her grandmother, she was hardly the child whom would have been voted ‘most likely to succeed’. Early indications are that she worked hard from the start as she began to excel in school, winning a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. While still in school, Oprah became the first African-American woman to anchor a newscast position in Nashville. After graduation, she moved to Baltimore to work as a reporter and co-anchor for WJZ-TV.
Oprah went on to become a multimedia tycoon, producing film and television programs. By 2000, she was launching her own magazine, “O: The Oprah Magazine,” the most successful magazine start-up in history. Everything flows from her talk show, which she has used as a platform for sharing her struggles with sexual abuse and her fluxuating weight. Most importantly, Oprah has used the show to build a deep, personal connection with her audience, most of whom feel her values and aspirations reflect theirs.
Oprah has also built her Personal Brand around her desire to build, produce and promote worthwhile projects. Her “Oprah’s Book Club” became a marketing force in the publishing industry, providing an audience for out-of-the-mainstream authors who might otherwise have languished on the bookshelves. In building an empire, she has become admired as an example of what a woman can do if she sets her mind to it.
After establishing herself with TV and print, she moved to the internet space, quickly dominating with her self-titled website Oprah.com. Here, she is able to connect with her audience virtually, providing pertinent information to her fans and carrying the same, consistent message from her other medias to the web.
What this means to you and all other job seekers worldwide: How Oprah built her brand translates into an acceptance of self; of who you are, where you come from and acknowledgment of what you want your ideal future to contain. Allowing yourself to be at peace the past will enable you to focus on the present tasks with an eye toward the future. Take a moment to visualize your ideal career. Ask yourself:
What are you doing?
Where are you working?
How much are you earning?
What are you worth?
Visualize as much as you can. Allow yourself to dream. Write as much of your ideal job/career characteristics as possible down on a sheet of paper. If your career is on a ‘path’, consider this an exercise in discovering your Point ‘B’, with where you are now being the Point ‘A’.
2. Why Oprah’s Brand Works
* Honesty: The core of Oprah’s Personal Brand is her openness about herself with her audience. Their genuine love for her stems from the perception that she has revealed herself to them and established an honest connection.
* Control: Oprah is vigorously protective of her privacy, maintaining tight control over information released for public consumption. This not only prevents against gossip; it is also a manifestation of her drive and ambition.
* Virtue: When talk shows were heading toward tabloid exploitation, Oprah steered hers toward motivation and self-help. This set the tone for her positive Personal Brand.
* Perseverance: “Don’t be satisfied with just one success – and don’t give up after one failure.” That attitude has sustained Oprah through film project failures, a very public personal life, and her own weight problems.
After you have visualized your ideal career (from above, step 1, establishing your Point ‘B’) examine the assets that you have to offer this new position/career. Authenticity is crucial in both branding and in your job search. When you are authentic, your credibility will shine through on your resume and later, when you interview.
Be intellectually honest about your attributes, characteristics, skills, past performances, talents and education and tailor these past experiences to your resume so that it screams to an employer or recruiter that you are a best fit for the position. Then, later, when you interview, you can authentically and with confidence answer any questions given to you. This is your Point ‘A’.
3. Oprah’s Adherence to the Eight Laws of Personal Branding
[For more on the 8 Laws of Online Personal Branding click here]
Oprah’s innate adherence to the 8 Laws of Personal Branding enabled her rapid ascendance:
1. The Law of Specialization: Though she began as “another talk-show host,” Oprah quickly differentiated herself with positivism, ambition and an honest desire to build a legacy of worthwhile work.
2. The Law of Leadership: She has made herself a mogul with hard work and vision–a voice of power and control in entertainment, media and publishing.
3. The Law of Personality: No celebrity has gained more from openly sharing her struggles, hopes and emotions with her audience.
4. The Law of Distinctiveness: She quickly set herself apart from the trailer-trash world of talk show hosts by becoming much more: a positive force, a champion of unknown talent and an outspoken advocate for women.
5. The Law of Visibility: How could you improve on having your own talk show and magazine? Oprah is one of the few known only by her first name.
6. The Law of Unity: It is hard to gauge this one because Oprah guards her privacy so vigorously. But since no scandals have emerged, it’s safe to assume the public and private woman are unified.
7. The Law of Persistence: She has never wavered from her core persona: flawed, driven, compassionate and always ready with a “you can do it” cheer.
8. The Law of Goodwill: It is hard to think of a woman who is loved more intensely and with greater devotion and admiration than Oprah.
What this means to you, the job seeker: Your own adherence to the 8 Laws of Personal Branding and manifesting your brand across all medias will help your ability to influence others- and with enough time and effort, this could mean influence over employers and recruiters.
Make sure that you have all your ‘outbound’ materials- from your resume, to your website (like Facebook, LinkedIn, CareerSpace from to your social media outlets (Digg, Delicious, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.) consistent with your message so that when someone gets in touch with you they will see your personal brand manifested in the way that demonstrates your best attributes.
Using the “career path” analogy, adherence to the 8 Laws of Personal Branding will keep you on track to connect Point A and Point B in the quickest way possible. Why walk from Point A to Point B when you can take a rocket ship?
Influence in Her Domain
Oprah has changed the landscape of women’s media with her magazine, her founding of the Internet and cable network Oxygen Media, and her relentless commitment to positive, productive, empowering works. “I want to be working on projects that are meaningful,” she says. “I know that can sound superficial, but it’s true. I would like to be able to say, down the road, that I created a legacy, something even more enduring than anything I have done yet.”
Her contributions provide an excellent example to job seekers- Oprah, contrary to popular belief, did not appear “over night”. Her legacy of perseverance, steadfast adherence to helping others and maximizing her resources provide a blueprint for job seekers to follow: specialize, be consistent, come from your essence, and focus your resources and efforts toward your ultimate goal (your ideal career!) and you will generate the influence from your personal brand you need to get there.
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.