Admit it, when Facebook offered up vanity URL’s you stayed up past your bedtime to try and nab your name, or similar moniker you use around the Web. Likewise, gplus.to took off like gangbusters, before Google+ is/was even out of beta. And why? Because after being around the block a few times, we’ve all realized the power and potential behind personal branding across a variety of tools we use every day. Whether you’re hunting for a new job opportunity, looking to grow your business, or simply want a unified presence on the web, chances are, a bit of personal branding could do some good. Let’s have a look at 10 personal branding tips that can make or break your online self marketing.
1. The CEO of ME
Whether you run a business, are employed, or currently looking for new opportunities, there’s one operation that you’re completely and totally in control over: You. Think, act, and plan like the leader of a multinational conglomerate when it comes to your own personal brand. What’s the up side? Is there risk involved? If so…how do I minimize it? As any business leader will tell you, you need to be constantly improving what you know, who you know and how your work is perceived. Why not apply this theory to your own personal brand?
2. Listen up!
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One of the most crucial components of managing your own personal brand is being acutely aware of your surroundings. Got a Google alert set up for your own name yet? Have you added your name to Sparks? If not, do it now. You might be quite surprised to see the results that come back. Likewise, monitoring important events, key players, and news in your industry will keep you in the know, adding to your CEO of ME status.
3. Communicate with consistency
No one individual can stay 100% focused on one topic at all times, and you’re bound to comment, read about and know about a wide variety of topics. However, this doesn’t mean that you should shift the overall tone of your message simply based on the platform or topic. Whether you’re responding to a LinkedIn group regarding widgets, or commenting on a TNW post, strive to maintain the same messaging consistency across all channels. Toss in a bit of creative help/problem solving in there, and you’re well on your way to achieving ME awesomeness.
4. It’s all in the name
When I say Scobelizer, what’s the first thing you think of? Ok, yes, a majority of the man’s last name is in the moniker, but I’ll bet 99% of you just had the thought: Robert. Obviously, your own name would be the obvious choice, but if you’re lucky enough to have an extremely common name like Dan Taylor, or something beyond the standard number of characters, you’ll want to come up with a name that can be universally applicable. A service such as checkusernames.com can help you narrow down such a name. Avoid names which might have geographical attachments to them, but adding a touch of what your passion is can be a bonus. Even if you’re not particularly interested in contributing to Squidoo, you might simply want to register an account, and user name of course, thus preventing any others from potentially detracting from your personal brand.
5. Rock the boat
Lemmings blindly follow each other off a cliff, and the same can be true on the Web. Remember, your personal brand will be measured only by the ideas, thoughts, actions, comments, etc. that they can be attributed to. Adding just another “Me too!” to the conversation provides little to no value, and certainly isn’t going to make you memorable. Conversely however, adding an “I see what you’re saying here, but what if you did it like this?” comment can spark a discussion allowing other readers to determine whether they want to hear more from you or not. Either way, by avoiding the former, and practicing the latter, you’re sure to separate the wheat from the chaff in seconds flat.
6. Get a headshot
Sure, your brother took great pictures of you at last weekend’s family barbecue, and it’s perfectly fine to share these images, but for the CEO of ME, shouldn’t you get the glam treatment as well? Try seeking out a local professional photographer, get in touch, and tell him/her what you’d like to use the image for. Chances are, if you’re willing to give them credit and a link across your various profiles, these photogs will offer you a nice reduction in pricing. If a picture says 1,000 words, are you really putting your best face forward?
7. Monitor your digital footprint
How much about you is already out there? If you’re in the business of promoting ME, silently lurking around the internet falls into the, “You’re doing it wrong” category. If you’ve set up some profiles with the same name, it’s time to shift things into high gear. But what if your past history of comments here and items there aren’t exactly the same brand you’d like to put forward today? This is where an online reputation management service comes in handy. If you’ve got any skeletons hiding in your Internet closet, it’s time to track them down and bury as many of them as possible.
8. Fingers to the keyboard
If you’re in the personal branding game, you’re in it to win it, and there’s no better way to up that game than by starting conversations. Whether it’s contributing to the company blog or newsletter, starting a LinkedIn thread, or writing a guest column for the local newspaper, you’re never going to establish a personal brand without first letting others know where you stand. If you’re the type that likes to start sentences with, “Well, it’s like I always say….,” go head and put your money where your mouth is, and put it in print. In doing so, you’ve upped the level of “what you always say” by making it quotable and something that others can associate with your personal brand.
9. Map out your networking master plan
As mama always told you, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” it’s vitally important for your self brand that you network, network, network. Now I’m not talking about sashaying up to every Bob on the corner, as most fellow Internet travelers can smell self-serving interests a click away. As CEO of ME, be on the lookout for other self-branders that you can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with. Simply put: “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
10. Bring your personality to the table every time
Perhaps a better way of saying this is, “Be yourself.” With planning. If you’ve gone through all the trouble of mapping out how awesome ME will be, don’t forget the single most important factor behind any brand: people. While you might be setting off to launch the empire of ME, don’t forget to bring your personality to the founders table. People might remember your Twitter name, or be able to find you on Facebook, but chances are, they’re far more likely to remember that funny comment you had about your mobile reception, and that smart comment about Apple’s introduction of Thunderbolt.
By applying the above techniques you’re not only building your personal brand, but in doing so, you’ve achieved the added bonus of keeping tabs on your Internet past, and ensuring the best possible presentation of You, CEO of ME going forward!