Does your online identity scream “Hire Me” or “Do Business With Me”? In this digital age, employers and customers now have the freedom to search for you in search engines and social networking websites to scope out your ‘personal brand’ before they decide to further their relationship with you. With the surge of social media, you can now intentionally influence that “Brand Called You”.
The way you interact with people both online and offline will build up an image of who you are. This is an image that you want to be able to control. Why leave your reputation to chance when you have the power to actively manage it?
To land an executive job, network with industry leaders or grow your customer base, you need to establish yourself as an expert in the industry. For marketers in particular, your personal brand and the marketing that you do are inextricably linked to how you nurture your networks:
- Creating branded searchable profiles on strong link-weight sites
- Continually update your profile with new skills, achievements, certifications and testimonials
- Share quality content in a helpful way to others
Here are some ways that you should be utilising to build your personal brand online:
Your own website
By establishing your own website, you may attract the attention of employers and potential customers who may otherwise never find you. Things you must take into consideration when building your website include:
- Having your name in the domain name of your website. This increases your searchability and help you build a stronger brand around your name.
- Putting time and effort into your About page. Include a photograph of yourself and a memorable background story.
- Include a mini-bio which can either appear at the end of your blog posts or in the sidebar of your website.
- On your About page, in your mini-bio and on your home page, make sure you include links to your social networking pages and contact information.
- Create posts around topics where you have something new to say or to add more value instead of agreeing with other people. When you agree with other people you are building their personal brand instead of your own so make sure you also take time to create quality content.
- Know the market niche your website fits into and make sure your it is able to resonate with that audience.
- The most prominent visual aspects of your blog should be high resolution images or symbols that reflect your online personality.
- Categorising your blog posts according to the most relevant keywords.
However, maintaining a website requires frequent posting to develop a strong visitorship and takes some time for a new site to build online visibility. If you’re unable to invest time into your blog, you may want to consider guest blogging instead.
Guest blogging and commenting
When done well, guest blogging and blog commenting can help you gain instant visibility for your brand. Firstly, you must look for the right blogs which are relevant to your niche expertise or industry. You can do this by:
- Finding out which blogs the industry experts and decision makers who you want to target are visiting.
- Consulting with your professional network and frequently visiting websites from shared links.
- Doing a Google search of the relevant keywords you want to rank for in your industry.
When guest posting you will need to ensure:
- The link to your anchor website and social media pages (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc) where people can find you is included.
- Your titles are carefully crafted to be attention-grabbing and your post contains your most important keywords.
- Your blog post is relevant to the date it is published. Remember that large blogs often have a long waiting period before guest posts are published so make sure your post will still be relevant when published at a later date.
- Promote your guest post by notifying readers of your regular website or those in your social networking websites.
When it comes to blog commenting:
- Try to be the first responder so you have a visibility advantage.
- Always type in your URL into the text field provided. Otherwise, include it at the end of your comment to prompt visitors.
- Write comments with substance by saying something more than just agreeing with the blog post.
Community blogs and forums
Niche-based social sites
A LinkedIn profile is a combination of a resume, cover letter, references and a living database of your network. You can use it to share articles, news, meet new people, search for jobs and personal advertising.
Your LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility online and help you build your professional brand. For example, when searching up the name ‘Annie Nguyen’ in Google, my LinkedIn profile will appear second in the results page. That means that anybody looking for information about my skills, employment information and recommendations are able to do so within a glance.
So, how do you increase your LinkedIn profile visibility?
- Make sure your profile is 100% complete by creating a detailed profile including past and current employment, education, industry and relevant skills or qualifications.
- Have a profile photo that is at least 80 x 80 pixels, preferably a headshot.
- Carefully select your professional headline, making sure to use keywords that prospective clients or employers will look for.
- Include a professional summary section to highlight your experience.
- Include all keywords and skills from your resume in your profile so that you are more searchable.
- Include links to your company website and blog.
- Make your profile public by customizing your own LinkedIn URL so that you can easily share your profile. For example, my LinkedIn URL is: http://au.linkedin.com/in/annienguyen1
- Use the LinkedIn “Groups” search feature to connect with relevant professional networks. Discover your circle of influence and consider offering yourself as a mentor in areas where you are experienced and confident.
VisualCV offers free online resumes which includes all the facets of a traditional resume with add-on features such as videos, PDF uploading, images and links to your accomplishments. The multi-media features available allow you to creatively showcase your skills on one web page. Recruiters and customers are also able to share and forward your VisualCV for more effective introductions. And when you update your VisualCV, you can also share these updates on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
For an insider’s guide on how to build your portfolio using VisualCV click here.
Twitter, Facebook and other social networks
Over 200 million people have social network profiles but not many have been able to brand themselves properly using this medium. Every social networking page has the same core benefits, such as the ability to share resources, add multimedia and much more.
Establishing a presence from your social networking page will position you as up-to-date and social media savvy. Your profile should include:
- A professional profile image of yourself – no obscene or inappropriate gestures or clothing.
- Fill out your profile completely and display your current and previous occupations as well as your education level.
- Depending on your social network page goals, you may set your entire account to private or grant certain individuals permission to view sections of your profile. Know who your appropriate audience is and how to best communicate with them.
- Import your contacts to grow your network.
- Start a Facebook group or page to support your website or become a valuable contributor to a relevant industry community to market your name and the links which you have shared.
There is perhaps no better way to take your personal brand one step further than creating a video. However, this tends to be an avenue that most people overlook due to the time and effort it takes to create a helpful or brand building video. Nonetheless, creating informational videos, how-to videos and vlogs that address your target audience can help you establish yourself as an expert in a particular topic.
To improve your shareability and boost your video reach, ensure that you:
- Include high search volume keywords in your title.
- Write a good description to summarise your video in a single paragraph which includes your keywords, links to your website and social media pages and links to your other YouTube videos.
- Create annotations to lead your audience to other videos.
- Include relevant tags.
- Select an eye-grabbing thumbnail image.
- Customise your YouTube page theme to suit your personality.
After creating a YouTube video you are also able to share this on your social networking sites and on your personal website to increase its reach.
Don’t overlook your email address – this is a significant part of your personal branding toolkit. It should be easy to remember and include your name. I recommend using Gmail, which is universally known and also allows you to interact on Google +, Google Hangouts and GTalk. Use something along the lines of: “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Of course this isn’t an all-inclusive list of the different personal branding opportunities you could take. Do you have a brand building tool you are using now which is working for you? Weigh in below!