In my last post, I provided a brief introduction to building your personal brand, with an eye toward what I have done and how you might be able to learn from my experience. In this one, we’ll cover a few more key areas and discuss some general thoughts on the brand-building process. Without further adieu, here are some more of those activities.
Leverage LinkedIn. This most popular of professional networking sites has been highly effective for me. I regularly get calls from head hunters and company recruiters through my LinkedIn profile. Guy Kawasaki’s blog has some good tips for boosting your LinkedIn profile and making it more attractive to hiring managers, clients, and business partners. I’ll leave it to you to see what Guy has to say but generally speaking, here’s what’s working for me:
- Make entire profile public and open — allow anyone and everyone to see your profile, whether or not they are logged in. This also helps Google index your page and people searching with it to find you that way. I also can receive messages and invitations to connect from any member, whether or not they know me, are connected, know my e-mail address, et cetera. That doesn’t mean I have to accept any such invitations but I will get them and this is often how recruiters contact me.
- Fill in all the available fields. Enter your work history of the past five or so years. Show people where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you know. This is, after all, a huge part of your value to firms seeking employees, especially when they don’t have personality or other less tangible traits to observe yet (since they have yet to meet you).
- Make effective use of key words. Use the types of words hiring managers might be looking for. If you are a social media expert, for example, you might want to include names for any methods you use or marketing philosophies you subscribe to, tools you use, and so on. Basically, use words you might consider if you were searching for a social media expert in LinkedIn.
- Join some groups. Joining relevant groups can put you in touch with other people in your field or with the same interests as you. Many groups also meet in real-space on a regular basis so this can be especially good if you have moved to a new town.
Regarding Facebook. Odds are, you already have a Facebook account. Many of us have used this one in powerful ways to, not just connect with old friends, but to elevate their profiles, sell apps, and find other people to connect with in their fields. Beware, however, Facebook has damaged quite a few personal brands as well. It goes without saying that you have to be very careful what images and comments you post to Facebook and even when you do so (e.g. posting photos of yourself on the beach when your employer thinks you are ill). Unfortunately, what your Facebook friends do and post can also be a problem for you, especially if you are in the pictures they post or comments they make. Honestly, due to the lack of control members have over their profiles and the mixing of business and pleasure happening on Facebook, I recommend caution when using it as a brand-building tool and even think deleting your Facebook account is worth serious consideration to maintain control over your brand. Of course, this depends on your brand itself and your strategy for promoting it. For example, Paris Hilton probably has nothing to worry about in having a Facebook account, a director of public relations might.
Though our focus here has been on digital strategy, perhaps more important than everything we’ve discussed is how you present your brand off-line. How you deal with people and conduct business is probably the single most important element of your brand. As many of us know, word-of-mouth and personal references have the strongest influence over consumer behaviour. What this means for most of us is what anyone would hope for in a business partner — sticking to your word, delivering quality product on time and on budget, being an effective and pleasant communicator, among others. I also, personally, believe that being true to oneself is paramount. Its a great (and natural) way to differentiate yourself from the herd, aside from making everyone (especially oneself) more comfortable. So as you craft and execute your digital branding strategy, remember: Face-time is prime time.