Do you ever Google someone when you want to learn more about them? Come on, I know you have! One other thing I can guarantee you is that others have Google you as well. Today it is quite routine to do research on potential business vendors, suppliers, employees etc. What comes up in that search identifies the quality of your personal brand and just for those who do not know, personal branding, also known as your career or professional brand, is the way you present yourself to the world at large. With the growth of LinkedIn, blogging, social networking, and search engines, it’s important that you portray your brand in a positive professional light. Just as a company differentiates itself by identifying and articulating its unique value proposition, you should do the same. When it comes to building your personal brand online, you have to continuously examine whether or not you are being presented in the proper light. The fact of the matter is that you will lose control of how you appear online if you are not the one in charge of managing your presence. Unfortunately, many have already fallen into this trap. Their online identities have escaped their control and what it is presenting to the world is, in some cases, not at all flattering. In this article I am going to share with you ten of the most important factors when it comes to building your personal brand online so that you can impress any potential prospects or employers that look you up. There are 10 key steps to help you develop and control your personal brand:
1. Check Google, Bing and Yahoo to find your name and its variations. What are search engines such as Google saying about you? Is there someone else in the world who shares your name? Funny little example, I once Googled my fiance’s name when we began dating only to discover someone with her name was a suspected serial killer, you could probably imagine my concern. It wasn’t her by the way! Believe it or not, it happens all the time so yhe first place to start with your personal brand, especially online, is to find out what is being said about you and what information comes up first in searches for your name.
2. Clean up your Web presence. Ok, so you have searched for yourself online and you aren’t happy with what is showing. You ready to do some cleaning up? You might as well know that removing yourself completely from the internet is near impossible. The “Clean Slate” device such on The Dark Knight Rises does not exist. At least not yet anyway. There are a number of tools that you can use to get rid of some of the easier to delete files. One good tool is called justdelete.me. This website ranks the process of erasing yourself from easy to damn near impossible. Social networks such as Twitter are relatively easy to delete, whereas others, such as Pinterest, are almost impossible.
3. Create your online reputation. Think websites are just for businesses? Well think again! Create your own personal website that lists all your social networks. Once again, there are a number of free tools out there that will let you do this but remember you get what you pay for and in many cases, you website will be very amateur looking complete with advertising and a template, cookie cutter feel. Not exactly the first impression that you are looking for we are sure. Purchase your own domain name (see below) and let a personal brand building company such as MarketingModo create a top notch site for you. It can be a simple blog or a stunning resume type site depending on your needs.
4. Claim your social media profiles and your personalized URL on LinkedIn. Have you protected yourself from cyber-squatters on your social media profiles? Trust me, once they take hold it sucks trying to get them back. Personalize the URLs for Facebook and Linkedin immediately. The exact name may not be available so you may have to get creative but don’t deviate too far from your name. It is also worthwhile to create a Google+ account to ensure that you appear on the right-hand column of search results. You will also want to create a Twitter account to share helpful information with others. If you share a lot of article via Linkedin and Twitter, you will often find these two networks near the top of search results.
5. Buy your own domain name (even if you are not using it yet). Do you own the URL of your name? If not, you should secure it at a website registrar like godaddy.com or as soon as possible. By owning your own domain name, you can be sure that if you use that URL, you will rank high in search results. If you don’t own your name, you are leaving your online reputation in the hands of a stranger. Owning your domain name costs around $10 to $15 a year so it is inexpensive and can come in handy.
6. Set up an ongoing alert system. It is important to monitor what is said about you online. Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts, which is a free alternative to Google Alerts to create your own online intelligence service. When you create the alerts, make sure you put your name with and without quotation marks. You should also include variations of your name to insure you are monitoring everything.
7. Launch a blog to publish content and show your perspectives. At MarketingModo, we recommend to clients interesting in setting up a personal website to set up their websites as a resume/blog hybrid. This allows visitors to see your online resume while also allowing you to show your expertise and perspectives via a blog. A blog is a great way to demonstrate your personal brand. It helps you position yourself as you want to be seen. A blog helps you expand your network beyond your work colleagues, positions you as a thought leader at your company, demonstrates your expertise on a topic or several topics, and shows that you can write and communicate (skills that a current and potential future employer will value). When you start a blog, remember that the Internet is like a copy machine. Think twice and sometimes three times before you publish. If you get angry or emotional reacting to something you see online or if someone else is provoking you, you might email it to yourself first and ask yourself: Would my parents, friends, or colleagues like to read this post? Many people have had their personal brands ruined by a rant or controversial opinion that went viral for the wrong reasons.
8. Share helpful content on a regular basis. What do you want others to think of you as online? What types of articles do you share with others? Are they articles on leadership, personal growth, marketing or topics within your area of expertise? The big question is what do you want to be known for? Your personal brand reflects who you are. Do what you love and your passion will come through the writing. You also don’t have to do all of the writing. If you can’t blog, you can share useful tips to your colleagues about the industry developed by parties.
9. Create your elevator pitch. Nothing is as important as your elevator pitch. Do you have your elevator pitch created? What are your core or key messages? Hone the messaging of your elevator pitch in your LinkedIn summary section or your blog’s bio page. That paragraph or two should sum up your personal brand in a quick and compelling way.
10. Evolve your personal brand. Just as company brands change over time, your personal brand is going to be constantly evolving as well. As you gain work and life experiences, your brand changes to reflect who you are and the lessons you have learned. Seek feedback from friends, family, colleagues and others you trust, so they can help you polish and refine your personal brand. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Do you know people are saying about your personal brand online? More importantly, are you taking steps to build, polish, and refine it? The key is to remember that your personal brand is more than just your job; it is your career. It is the brand called you. For a full list of the personal marketing services offered at MaketingModo, please check out our Individual Marketing Solutions page.