5 Steps to building your online personal brand
Personal branding has become so much more than just a buzz phrase and it is commonly appreciated that you have a personal brand whether you created it or not. Back in the day, people believed you just had to look the part, act the part and do a good job to be perceived positively.
So what’s changed? The impact of the internet and social media.
Now, as well as considering the impact of your traditional personal brand (face to face, phone, email), you also have to look at how your online brand and social media reflects your personal brand in real life.
As a firm advocate of, and expert in, personal brand creation. I have taken steps to ensure that my online brand and that of my clients accurately represents who they are, what they do and ultimately why they do it in the first place. My investment in my personal brand on LinkedIn resulted in being awarded “Power Profile” status from LinkedIn, allocated to the most influential ‘Leaders’, alongside Sir Richard Branson, James Khan and David Cameron.
Here are my top 5 tips for kickstarting your online personal brand the right way:
- Get on LinkedIn
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, now might be the right time to join the other 433 million members across 200 countries and territories around the world. LinkedIn exists to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”.
When you register on LinkedIn, you will be encouraged to fill in a certain amount of information to populate your profile, which is effectively an online CV. You’ll have more flexibility than a couple of bits of paper though, as you can add other forms of media such as SlideShare presentations, images, videos and links to other relevant resources of yours online.
It is important that you create a ‘summary’ about yourself; This is like your online elevator pitch and provides an insight into who you are, what you do and most importantly your ‘why’. This section should where possible identify any high-profile pieces of work you have completed, numerical data/ stats on your productivity or the types of clients you have engaged.
Bring the CV section to life, don’t just list where you have worked and when, describe the attributes you have because of the position or the responsibility in that role.
Final tip: ask clients/ colleagues for a recommendation, to prove to others that other people also think you are fantastic!
- Network on LinkedIn
Once you’re on, link in!
Networking is the key word here, as LinkedIn is built around the concept of being a network for professionals. That means you can use the “Interests” menu in the top navigation bar to identify companies, groups and online courses that are relevant to you. You can also set preferences in the “Jobs” area that will highlight jobs that are most targeted to your interests and needs, such as location and experience level.
If you have a business, this can also be an ideal way to engage existing clients and new clients – there are many mechanisms I use to maintain the interest of my linked in network and to make the site a commercial tool.
Expand your direct network by using “My Network” to find alumni from your university, work place and people you may know (1st, 2nd degree connections), based on other people you have connected with previously.
- Get on Twitter
Quite different, but rewarding in its own way, is Twitter. This network won’t take you more than a couple of minutes to register to and set up. If you aren’t familiar with it, it could take a little longer to get the hang of. More about that in a minute.
When you create an account on Twitter, you’ll need to pick a username (this dictates the URL users will use to access your profile) – it will need to be something that isn’t currently registered by another user. You may need to incorporate initials or an industry term if you have a popular name.
Consider how you wish to use this tool in the future to build on your client pipeline, network or credibility as an expert on this medium.
- Be active on Twitter
Once you’re all set up, or you’ve managed to finally log into a profile you set up years ago, start discovering what the network really has to offer. Not sure where to start? Use the search functionality to explore topics relevant to the field you wishto get into; this way you may discover conversations and chats with a particular hashtag, as well as users who frequently tweet about that topic.
When you start following the right people, both normal industry folk and companies, you’ll find more and more relevant content delivered to your home feed. Keep your eye out for job openings shared by those you follow, as well as promoted posts which might also open up some opportunities for you. Don’t forget to follow your clients or prospective clients so you are aware of what they are doing and can think about any problem they may be facing for which you can provide the solution.
The more active you are the more followers you will have!Butbear in mind social media can be addictive and time-consuming so use it as much is appropriate to target your demographic in a positive way. Don’t let it swallow you whole!
- Build a brand beyond social media
After establishing yourself on these networks, you can go even further. Why not create a personal website where you can link out to all of your active professional social networks? Or you could identify the forums and industry publications that are most relevant to your industry and begin to engage with other users and content that is published there.
. The beauty of having your own website is that, it is your own space to create the look and feel that you want and there is no competition on your website (unlike on social media). Or like me you may want a personal website and a business website to reflect both sides of what you do – my www.biancamillercole.uk website is about me and why I created my businesses and the business sites www.the-be-group.uk and www.biancamillerlondon.com focus solely on the ambitions and product/service of the respective brand.
Adapted from ‘Self Made: The definitive guide to business start-up success’, by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole.