Personal branding is a relatively new concept and is thought to have emerged in 1997 after a ground breaking article was published on the Fast Company website by Tom Peters.
We are in the age of the ‘knowledge worker‘ and the days of being an anonymous cog in the wheel of a faceless corporation are fast disappearing. The opportunity to stand out as a personal brand without having to know a politician, grey and grizzled powerbrokers or gnarly gatekeepers is now a reality and it is possible to accelerate the time it takes to make it happen.
Firstly what are the key elements and the questions that we need to consider to become a visible and effective personal brand.
1. What makes you different?
What is it that makes my product or service does, that makes it different? The challenge is to state that in 15 words or less and it needs to light up the eyes of a prospective client.
Here some questions to ask and honestly answer to help you with this task.
- What makes you distinctive from your competitors?
- What have you done lately.. this week.. last month to stand out?
- What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy personal trait?
- Just like a corporate brand what features do I offer that yields an identifiable and distinguished benefit for my client or customer. An example is how some companies pride themselves on offering lavish personal service, complete your projects on budget
- What do I do that adds remarkable measured distinguished distinctive value?
- What do I do that that I am most proud of or I unabashedly brag about or shamelessly take credit for?
Finally you need to ask a rather brash question ‘What do I want to be famous for? This questions are to get you focussed on what you as a personal brand are about…once you have that clear then you take the nest step.
2. How Do you Market ‘You’ the Brand
Ten or Twenty years ago it was a much more difficult proposition and it could have involved a range of offline networking opportunities such as.
- Signing up for an extra project inside your organisation to to showcase your skills or develop new ones that grew your personal brand.
- Freelancing to a new group of people that could spread the word about how remarkable you are.
- Teach class at a local community
- Contribute to a column in your local newspaper
- Write an article for the company newsletter
- Make yourself available for a panel discussion in your industry
- Put yourself forward for a presentation in your area of expertise whether that be within your company or an external association
You need to remember that with this personal visbility campaign is that it ‘all’ matters. Everything you do communicates the value and character of your brand. This about not just about substance but style.
In 2010 you have at your fingertips the tools and social media platforms to leverage yourself into high personal brand visbility at digital nanosecond speed and here are some of the social networking channels that are most important to help you achieve that. You don’t need to be on all of these but choose the ones you ae most comfortable with but the more you are on the easier it is to get found.
What is important to remember is that it is now a digital web world so if you are not on the web you are fast becoming invisible. So here are the core channels for promoting brand ‘You’.
1. Blog or Website with a domain name that is either your own name or a ‘Brandable’ version of it
This is your personal homebase that becomes your personal brands portal. It could be a website or a blog but my personal preference is for a blog as it seems more personal and authentic as it allows interaction with your readers and visitors to the site that a website doesn’t provide. If you are not comfortable with your personal name being so visible.. and some people are not comfortable with that, another option is to get a vanity URL that encapsulates what you are about. eg Personalbrandingblog.com (Dan Schwabel)
This is essential but here are a few elements that are crucial
- Make your profile public
- Ensure that youset up your other online web channels on your profile such as your blog, Facebook and your company’s site ( you are allowed three on LinkedIn)
- Set up your Twitter account feeding into the account page as well as your blog feed. These are all visible and easily set up on your LinkedIn homepage profile
From there you can start participating on LinkedIn in Groups and the Question & Answer features. That will get you started. You need to keep in mind the importance of this channel as the demographic includes an average salary of LinkedIn member is $130,000 plus and currently there are 60 million members globally.
This social media platform cannot be ignored with nearly half a billion members and has become the ‘elephant in the room’ or the ‘800 pound gorilla’ of social media. There are privacy challenges but it can be used to engage with people and increase your visibility and make you real. One way to look at Facebook is that it is more like a barbeque where you turn up in Jeans and a t-shirt, whereas LinkedIn is the company cocktail party
As the newer generation are much more video centric and would rather watch a 5 minute online video than read a page of text this a social media channel that I would recommend you start becoming familiar with. It is great site for uploading your videos that have recorded your speaking events or your panel sessions. If people are looking for speakers and you have an easily found and distributed recording of your presentations then you are much more likely to be hired for a gig.
The other benefit of YouTube is that it much easier to rank high and be found online in YouTube with a video search than Google. You also need to keep in mind that it is the second largest serach engine after Google.
Register your name ‘NOW’ .. if it is still available!! Twitter is not about ‘I am having a coffee with Bill’ but it is one of the most effective platforms the world has ever seen to distribute content (blogs, videos, presentations, music and images) and promote a brand whether that be corporate or personal.
These are just the basics on the channels and how you should be using them for your personal brand, optimising your social media platforms to get your personal brand highly visible requires constant fine tuning and tweaking.
What have you done to promote “Your” brand?