As social media and online marketing continues to grow, the idea of personal branding, and personal branding online has generated more and more attention. Consider that over 80% of people have conducted a “people search” online – searching for someone they have met or heard of.
What is more, over 80% of people say that the reputation of the CEO impacts their perception of a company. The reality is that people are searching online to assess your credibility. If you haven’t started thinking about your online personal brand yet, now is the time to start.
Step 1: Define Your Brand
Start by defining your personal brand. What are you all about? What knowledge, passion and expertise do you have that sets you apart from others? Everyone is an expert on something, and understanding who you are and what you want to be about online is the first step.
The best personal brands are authentic and genuine based on who you really are. For example, despite being an international speaker and generally overdressing, my personality is more laid-back and casual, and that comes across when I speak professionally, in my online posts and in the videos I record. If you know your stuff and keep it PG, people respect and connect with your personality.
Step 2: Design Your Brand
Once you have defined what you are all about, the next step is to design your brand. Consider what makes your brand credible based on your unique achievements. Consider your “WOW” factor and how you position and highlight your core accomplishments. Many of the professionals that attend our personal branding workshop are timid about their achievements or write them off saying “that wasn’t a big deal”. While it might not be a big deal to you, if positioned correctly this could be your WOW factor.
I often read the bios of other speakers and experts for inspiration. If they sound impressive because of their media appearances, I will inventory mine. If I have some good ones, I may start featuring media appearances in my bio. If not, I might create a plan to get more press. Either way, this is a good exercise in figuring out how to communicate the WOW factor in your brand.
Another key characteristic of a powerful personal brand is memorability. I constantly think about the memorable aspects of my presentation and introduction so that I can be sure to include them in the future. If people don’t remember me, my brand is irrelevant. For example, people remember Donald Trump for his hair and his catch phrase “You’re Fired”. While there are plenty of rich older men, you probably can’t identify them as easily as Donald Trump. Donald Trump has memorability.
Step 3: Deliver Yourself Online
This is the most important step in personal branding. Once you know who you are and how you are credible and memorable, you have to bring it to life online. Evaluate your existing online profiles. How would a stranger perceive you? Google Yourself. What shows up? Does it position you as a rockstar?
If not, time to get started on online brand building. Create AMAZING profiles on sites like LinkedIn, About.me, Slideshare and more. Start a blog and a personal website to control the impression you create.
The objective is to really bring your brand to life online so that when someone searches for you online they find the amazing, brilliant and talented person that you want them to find.
Step 4 (BONUS): Rinse and Repeat
This is an iterative process and it is one that is constantly evolving. My personal brand has grown and changed over the years, and each time I think about it, it becomes a little stronger. When I got started in personal branding I didn’t have any media appearances. After a few years I had been on a number of media outlets as an expert, but it didn’t even occur to me to put it into my bio. A few years ago I was speaking at a conference, and when the other speaker was introduced his “as seen on” media list was mentioned, and I saw the reaction in the audience was WOW. I thought about the media outlets I had been on, and my list was far more impressive than his, so I started including it in my bio. Now I get the WOW when I am introduced.
The point is that it is a process, and it is one that should be revisited every 6 months. Start with your objectives (define), your strengths and accomplishments (design) and begin to bring them to live online (deliver). You don’t have to do everything at once, start small and grow and build overtime. The results can be tremendous.