This week, I came across Dan Schawbel’s recent article Personal Branding for Dummies and was intrigued to read what I thought, based on the title, would be an overview of personal branding for anyone just beginning to explore this important concept and process.
Dan targets in this article the less tech-savvy individuals by highlighting the top web services they should use to create their own personal websites and/or blogs in order to enhance their online brands.
For anyone who is ready to enlarge his/her personal brand online, but isn’t quite ready to launch a full-blown blog or website, there are several other easy steps you can follow to enhance your online presence, establish expertise and gain recognition on the web.
1. Set up shop.
You need a place that you can refer anyone seeking more information about you as you continue to build your brand online. While you should be on multiple networks, I personally recommend LinkedIn as your main hub, but I have also seen some experts use VisualCV really effectively. Account profiles on both of these networks provide you a personalized URL that you can link to.
If you want to take it one step further, you can always purchase a custom domain name (i.e. www.JohnSmith.com) through one of the many domain registrars, like GoDaddy, and forward it to your LinkedIn or VisualCV profile URL.
Also, if possible, get an email or gmail address that works well with your personal brand (i.e. John@JohnSmith.com or JohnSmith@gmail.com etc.).
Both the custom domain and the branded email address will help to lay the foundation of your online brand and will set you up well if you choose to launch your own blog or website in the future.
2. Optimize your profiles.
No matter which ones you use, optimize your profiles above and beyond the minimum requirements. For example, on LinkedIn, you need to first make sure that your profile is 100% complete with all of your professional experience, education, interests, skills, summary and more.
If you don’t buy and forward a custom domain name, make sure to personalize your LinkedIn profile URL so that it is recognizably your own.
Get as many LinkedIn recommendations as possible from appropriate contacts, especially any and all that directly support the online brand you want to start to communicate and enhance. If you don’t have them now, make sure to request them when possible to build up references relevant to your personal brand.
3. Get involved and contribute.
Join as many relevant LinkedIn groups as possible within your industry or areas of interest (the maximum limit is 50). Once you have joined, read each group’s discussion board threads and contribute valuable comments and answers to fellow members’ ideas and questions. Start your own discussions to initiate networking within your groups.
Explore LinkedIn’s Answers section and contribute your insights and answers to questions relevant to your personal brand and expertise. The people who post the questions select the best answers and may recognize you as an expert depending on the quality of your contributions.
Join any related online forums, websites or Ning networks within your industry or interest areas and find ways to share your expertise with fellow members there.
Search topics of interest to you and your personal brand and identify the top sites and blogs you want to follow. You can set up Google Reader to aggregate specific blogs’ posts in one location and/or Google Alerts to get updated on articles featuring topics of interest to you. Make sure to leave valuable comments on website and blog articles that demonstrate your expertise and communicate your brand. Always include your full name, your branded email address and either your custom domain or your profile URL when leaving comments so to build up your reputation.
4. Micro-blog and make the ask.
Create a Twitter account to get a feel for blogging on a smaller scale. Make sure your username compliments your personal brand. Optimize your profile by including your full name, linking to your custom domain or your profile URL, including a complete BIO and uploading a real picture of you. Find leaders in your industry or interest areas to follow and begin contributing tips, news, links to articles etc. on a consistent basis.
As you continue to network and gain a following both on Twitter and on your other networks, identify blogs where you might be able to contribute something new, unique and valuable within your areas of expertise and “make the ask,” a.k.a. email them asking them if you could contribute a guest post to their blog. What’s the worst they can say? No, right? They can’t say yes if you don’t ask them. This offers you the opportunity to get “published” and build your online brand without launching your own blog or website. Who knows? Maybe they will ask you to contribute on a consistent basis. Maybe another blogger will see your content and contact you about providing a guest post for his/her blog.
For many of you, these steps may help you to become ready to launch your own blog or website! But either way, as I mentioned, these are just some of the steps that you can follow to enhance your online brand. I am sure there are many others, and they don’t have to follow this exact order.
If you have some other ways to share, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We welcome all insights and perspectives on Career Rocketeer, for different strategies work for different people.
Good Luck and Happy Brand Building!
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About The Author
Chris Perry, MBA, is THE GENERATOR. His mission is to help empower people and organizations to become better at what they do. He is also the founder of Career Rocketeer.