The Essential Guide to Creating a Distinctive Personal Brand
When I am asked to explain the steps that someone should take to create a compelling and successful online personal brand, I advise people to optimize their social-media profiles and updates and content disseminated so they’re discoverable, sharable and therefore memorable.
How you present yourself online and what you say or share has the power to leave an impression on anyone you come in contact with. You can reap many rewards if that experience is a good one.
1. Be discoverable.
For your personal brand to have an effect on your career, company or target audience, your social-media profiles and updates and online content must be easily found.
This means taking steps so that when people are searching for your name (in advance of a sales meeting, say, or a job interview) or looking for someone like you with your experience and expertise, your name shows up in search results.
If you search for your name online what do you see? Are you happy with the results? Are there any links that come up that you would rather people not see? Is there any competition for your name?
It’s your responsibility to keep an eye out for website mentions of your name and take steps to ensure the first page of search-engine results reflect the brand you want to project.
Do this over time by signing up for relevant social-media networks that tend to rank highly in search-engine results. Make sure you use the same name across all networks. When possible, link to these social-media profiles and bios from other relevant websites you have a presence on and increase the visibility of your personal brand via search engine optimization.
You can optimize your LinkedIn profile by making your summary and experiences keyword rich so it ranks high in results for people looking for skills and expertise like yours on that platform as well.
Once your social-media profiles are optimized for discoverability make sure your posts contain keywords that people will use to search for your kind of content.
A social-media white paper I wrote five years ago still ranks #1 on Google and Bing in searches for "social media white paper." I did research about the types of keywords that people use to find out more about social media and labeled the paper and file name of the PDF accordingly.
2. Create sharable content.
Offer people useful content and you will find they will share your wisdom. Whatever your niche, try to avoid what I call the "so what factor" whereby your content leaves your followers not feeling engaged and wondering why they just wasted several minutes reading a post you have written or watching a video you shared.
Be generous with your expertise and share it in such a way that the information has value and people want to pass it along on social media, too.
Online, this might mean really thinking smartly about the language you use in your Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook posts so that they stand out from all the social noise.
Too often I see social-media updates that have not been well thought out and that look really rushed and dull. Take some time to construct content that will pique the interest of members of your audience and make them want to share it.
When you meet with individuals face-to-face, let them know how they can connect with you online. Identify your social-media handles on your business cards. During a conference presentation, put your social-media handles on slides so that people know how to connect with you online.
3. Be memorable.
Maintaining an active presence online in posts that are compelling and useful pertaining to your industry niche will leave the right impression with your peers and help you become a go-to resource for information and insight that will translate into fruitful business relationships.
Don’t expect overnight success though. Cultivating a successful personal brand takes time and effort. Although keeping tabs on what and how you’re presenting yourself takes a while to become second nature, once you start seeing the rewards you’ll be glad you set yourself on that path.