I recently attended a professional development workshop about personal branding led by Internet Marketing Consultant Rob Croll. Rob delivered enough insight and direction to keep me busy for quite awhile...
Question: What is a personal brand?
Answer: Your reputation… What people think of you!
To establish a strong personal brand online, Rob offered a well-rounded strategy, which I distilled into the key points below:
- Know what's out there. Do a vanity search for your name. Don't know what a vanity search is… just Google yourself!
- Decide who you want to be or how you'd like to represent yourself online. What makes you different? What is your unique value proposition?
- If you've already established yourself across multiple social networks, make sure you are projecting a consistent image.
- Secure the domain name for your brand. If you don't plan to use it, protect it from someone else who may post something detrimental to your image.
- Create a blog… and use it! Blogging helps establish you as a credible authority in your field. Posting regularly will keep the content fresh/relevant and will increase your site's SEO.
- Join LinkedIn. Widely regarded as the most professional social network, creating a profile on LinkedIn will add yet another credible location for search engines to find you.
- Tweet people! …And not what you had for breakfast. Use it to promote your blog, share content and connect with experts in your field.
- Consider creating a separate Facebook account for professional purposes. Google+ may be offer grouping functions to eliminate the need for multiple accounts, but until everyone who's on Facebook gets one of those illusive invites…
- Comment on other people's blogs and respond to people who contact you through your blog or various social networks. Think of it as a dinner party dialogue - show interest, ask and respond to questions.
- Update your content frequently.
- Be real.
- Monitor your brand by setting a Google Alert to notify you when and how your name is used.
One interesting question raised during the presentation was the distinction of brand vs. identity. Though opinions differed, I believe a "brand" is what other people think about you, while an "identity" is what you know to be true about yourself.