I talked about the importance of personal branding. In the 21st century, with tweets, likes, and viral blog posts floating through the digital ether, it’s not just companies that need to take advantage of promotion opportunities online. You must too. That means approaching yourself as a brand, the startup of ‘you’. If you were to start a company, you’d be wise to determine how, what you were offering the world was different than all your competitors. That uniqueness would likely become the core part of your branding strategy. It’s no different as an individual. It’s your job to take what’s exceptional about yourself and broadcast it to the right audience, in the right way. There’s a multitude of ways to go about this, but we’ve come up with some best practices for getting you noticed. Here are 4 strategies to help build the brand of ‘you’ online.
This is a prelude to the implementation of your personal brand online. You wouldn’t set out on a journey without having an idea of where you may end up and why you’re doing it, and so in the journey of personal branding, you want to determine just that. It means defining your goals, both personally and professionally, establishing your values, and recognizing your passions. Listing these (be it in a document or sketched out by hand) before navigating the world of online media is critical because it will define the parameters of your path. This shouldn’t be taken lightly as it’s critical for establishing a consistent and clear image, nor should it be too restrictive that it makes the journey seem impossible.
Has William Dafoe ever played a ‘good guy’?[/caption] After defining ‘you’ the path may be clearer, but really it’s looking more like a direction on your compass. That’s a start, for sure, but it’s not enough to move forward with confidence. Whether or not you are an expert, or are becoming one, it’s not enough to be generalist any longer. As we seek to better understand ourselves as earthlings we continually slice up the world into smaller and more detailed pieces. Determining the specifics of where you want to go, meaning establishing yourself in a niche that combines your passions, values and goals is going to be your next foot forward in your personal branding journey. Spend time reading the experts in your field, become an idea machine, and think how your experience may add something new for an audience to learn.
Row, Row, Row Your Content
Once you’ve established the course you want to navigate, be it based on the values you hold dearly alongside the professional goals you have over the next 5 years, you must find the appropriate vehicle that is going to get you there. Online, that sleek, aerodynamic, speedy locomotive is going to be content. Creating useful, informative, and relevant content is a key factor in branding yourself online. Whether it’s the written word, aural notes or visual masterpieces, content is where you get to show off who you are to whom you hope may pay attention. It’s been said many times, “Content is King.” This is evermore true as ‘clickbaiting’ and poor quality content floods the Internet. There are many social avenues to drive your content down, but regardless of where you disseminate it you want to become a node in the social network(s). That means being a connecting point that branches out to other pathways moving to other points (people & companies). By producing, curating and distributing valuable information you make yourself the ‘go-to’ person that is trusted and relied upon. Instead of going to others, people now come to you.
Leverage Your Brand
So, you’re well on the path and in the process of flowering into an expert, and people are beginning to see you as a reliable source of information, but then what? Take advantage of it. Journeys are to be shared with others. Sure, you go it alone, but that’s not to say you won’t make friends, find business contacts, discover mentors and interact with fascinating travellers along the way. You started with a goal in mind, and it may have shifted now that you’re in the midst of your personal branding adventure, but it’s always worth keeping them in mind. It could be a number of goals in tandem: growing business opportunities, securing speaking gigs, connecting other experts in your field, or working with influencers to create new and exciting content. Reach out to those people you’d like to work with. Tweet them an article you’ve written. Give them useful feedback on a blog they’ve produced. Email them thanking them for the insightful podcast and maybe suggest someone to be their next guest. It’s a dynamic process, and endless if you approach it from the mindset that the destination is less important than the path you walk. Your personal brand will determine how others perceive you and how they interact with you. The process doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen faster than you may think. It’s about finding your place both apart from and within the crowd. At its apex, it is an opportunity to foster better and more authentic relationships, to ourselves, and to others. Hanging in my living room, I have a printed manifesto that reads: Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating.