When Porter Gale, author, speaker, and former VP of Marketing for Virgin America, taught Your Network is Your Net Worth, she asked students to one important question to guide their goal-setting and their actions, both online and off:

“How do you want to be seen in the world?”

Thinking about how you want to be seen in the world is a lot like thinking about your personal brand. It’s about projecting a clear image of yourself – your personality, your competencies, and your interests. During her networking course, Porter presented a framework to help people crystalize that image, she calls it: The Funnel Test.

your online reputation test

“It’s important to think about, ‘how do I want to present myself?’” The Funnel Test is your tool for doing that thinking. It’s the foundation for her strategic networking program and it encourages you to filter your actions through a funnel of passions and tone as a way to have more productive interactions.

The funnel test has three core circles at the top – three passions. Identify your passions by asking yourself, “what am I am I most comfortable talking about? What are the things I’m going to be writing articles or blogging about? What are the things I’m most interested in?” Once you’ve identified your passion, you set a tone for presenting them in the world.

Say you’re passionate about music, community-building, and the environment — how do you talk about those things?

“Tonality is how you want to present to the world,” Porter explains. Some people take an exuberant tone, others a more intellectual one. Either is fine, provided it’s a positive one. Positivity is a magnet and that is what you are trying to do here – draw like-minded people to you.

The funnel test can also help you figure out how to engage with potential clients in a more off-the-cuff way. Tempted to snipe a business on Twitter? Put it through the funnel test first. Unless being catty is one of your passions, it probably won’t pass the test.

“Thinking about who you want to be and what you want to convey can create a framework for your actions.” When you are standing in long line, smartphone in hand, The Funnel Test can stop you from tweeting your angst. It can also inspire you to strike up a conversation when you are standing idly at a cocktail party. When you know exactly what it is that you want to convey to the world, small talk becomes less small. It will help you build more authentic relationships and a stronger network.

As Porter says, “being able to articulate what you are interested in…can change your life.”