If you are looking to elevate your personal stature either for business, professional advancement or another initiative that is near and dear to your heart then you must commit to online personal branding. Whichever the motive, transforming yourself from an incognito individual to someone with a substantial fan base takes preparation, dedication, an eye for detail, and an ear for professional advice – not to mention a mishmash of other qualities necessary to create, maintain and polish a personal brand. Knowing the fundamentals of online personal branding can help you establish that stellar stature you have always wanted, gain you an edge over any competitors and can open opportunities at a scale and level that you have never experienced. People with mature, well established online personal brands get approached on a much more frequent basis by people within their profession who can pose excellent opportunities. Having this type of presence online means that you get to choose which partnerships or opportunities to pursue, which opportunities will be the most fruitful and will lead to the greatest personal / professional outcome for you.
You start by defining a strategic plan, followed by a personal positioning plan. Then, create a website or blog, and leverage the power of the Internet, especially social media networks. Finally, try to interact with people with whom you share a vision, passion or professional affinity.
Define a Strategic Plan for Your Brand
To be effective, your online personal brand should rest on a solid, methodical outline. Communication specialists often observe that people with a large presence on the Internet – a long and influential list – often benefit from an initially well-rounded branding blueprint. To jump-start your online brand, define a plan that is in sync with your overall goal. A strategic plan is a set of actions to reach a broader goal. For example, your strategic plan may be to position yourself as a premier specialist of, say, high-end luxury yachts or an expert in international politics whose polished brand and sharp prose one day would invite the appreciative interest of big-name media companies like CNN, NBC, ABC and FOX. Make sure your strategic outline aligns with your resources, education, professional background and family situation. Make your plan S.M.A.R.T, as strategists often say. S.M.A.R.T is shorthand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bounded. The last thing you want is to define an online branding road map that is not compatible with your personal situation, or that is not relevant to your ultimate motives. This plan will help you to define smaller goals along the way (ie. who to seek out at conferences, who to set up lunches with, etc.).
Formulate Personal Positioning
After laying out a clear personal branding blueprint, define the way you want to position yourself – and your brand. Try to combine personal grandeur with a five-star strategic plan, but don’t give in to self-aggrandizement by thinking you’re so good, your personal brand should be high up there in the annals of celebrity-mania. In Internet marketing, positioning refers to all tools, procedures and processes an organization or person uses to create an image or identity in the minds of customers, fans or followers – in short, the brand market. When forging your online positioning tactics, make sure it is in line with your 4-P plan. 4-P, marketing shorthand for product, price, promotion and place, enables a company to define the hodgepodge of programs it will use to clinch a competitive leadership position. In the context of an online personal brand, the “product” is you – the person trying to establish an embellished public character. The “price” is the value the market ultimately attributes to your brand. “Promotion” pertains to advertising solutions / methods you use to make your brand known, while “place” refers to websites you would like to advertise on or link your content to.
Create a Website or Blog
Celebrities who are awash in money often shower ghostwriters with bonuses and other monetary incentives, to make sure they continually feed their official blogs attention-grabbing stories that keep the fans wanting for more. You can also adopt the same tactic if you have deep pockets. But if you cannot afford a team of prolific wordsmiths, create a self-fed blog or personal website. Choose a tone, a voice and topics that are appealing to your readership / peers and make sure to be consistent over time. With a consistent approach to adding insightful posts to your blog new visitors will find their way there regularly. Pay attention to your blog’s editorial proclivity and select subjects that are compatible with your strategic plan and positioning. Topic selection is also salient. Favor subjects that are relevant to readers – and, add in some borderline controversial or news breaking posts – to generate buzz and increase the number of comments and back links your prose ultimately would enjoy. A consistent approach to your blog will put new, industry related eyes on you, on a daily basis. Free, organic, industry-related web traffic on a daily basis, that consistently grows. The opportunities that we mentioned in the opening paragraph come in to play significantly here, from this blog traffic. By leaving a means of contact on your blog, people and opportunities will present themselves, from co-marketing, guest blogging, sales opportunities, consulting etc. Organic traffic to your personal professional blog brings opportunities to you, consistently. This is a major advantage.
Use the Social-Media Bounty
Social networks don’t just benefit the well-off or famous. Corporate executives, celebrities, sophisticated investors and other figures familiar to the elite-focused news media have a similar playing field with which to work as the average professional in his or her field. Portals like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus can greatly enhance your online brand if you astutely use them. Create a profile that is in accord with your strategic vision, make sure each profile is thorough and full of content about you. Twitter is arguably the most important tool in online branding. In the past few years, it has shot to social and online stardom so quickly, various individuals are using it, ranging from politicians to business people to entertainers to leaders of charities to prominent voices in academia and the arts. Create a Twitter account and dispense as much wisdom and insight as you can, doing so regularly – even better, more regularly than your competition. Consistent news and insight sharing will build your brand fast, your Tweet history is something you then can share with readers of your blog. In your Twitter account profile you can promote your LinkedIn account. As you grow industry followers, you will be able to grow your LinkedIn connections as well. EVERY person you meet, interact with and encounter in your professional life should be added on both social sites if possible.
Steady growth to your social media accounts is an amazingly powerful tool and will help you uncover even more opportunities down the road in your career. Consulting, speaking, partnerships of greater magnitude etc. A mature social media presence with a strong following has now become a sign of seniority, popularity and industry strength. Your online personal brand relies on growth in this area.
Schmooze with Like-Minded Folks Online – And in Real Life
Individuals and companies engaging in online brand building typically vie for the attention of readers, fans, friends, peers and the general public. Be specific when forging your online brand, targeting only your specific reader segment, unless your communication blueprint is broad and has a demographic scope that spans the entire country or world. Try to meet people, online and offline, who share the same analytical bent, campaign, cause or strategic motive. For example, if you are a low-key politician working to clinch a higher government office in the future, say, in three or five years, try to network with your party’s donors and political operatives as often as tactically possible. Target specific people online and offline, seek people out at conferences, connect with those people online. Scour the people that you meet for potential online branding opportunities now that may pay off in the future. Examples of this include guest blogging appearances, co-sponsored webinars (which you can promote if you have a strong social following, if you don’t, you can’t) and co-sponsored white papers.
Ultimately, online personal brand building takes time, a clear plan of action and a lot of effort. For professionals (of any field) who are interested in building their online personal brand, but do not have the time, we offer our Online Personal Branding Package.