Personal branding was definitely a big trend in 2011, and I believe it will continue to be a focus for B2B and B2C companies alike — largely due to the perceived ease of creating a personal brand online. In addition to the career benefits it can bring, many companies appreciate their employees’ branding activities because they recognize the value elevated personal brands can bring to their organization as a whole.
If developing your online persona is something you have yet to master, read on for four helpful steps to get you started.
Step 1: Develop a persona and create profiles across the web
A great tip for getting started is to find and own one primary trait that makes you unique. For example, for CMI’s Joe Pulizzi, it is the color orange. Orange is part of nearly everything Joe does, from his websites to his social media presence to his wardrobe. It is part of his signature brand. So if you can, think about something you can use to trademark yourself and incorporate that into each and every one of your online profiles.
Speaking of profiles, if you haven’t already developed yours on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and About.me, get started today. You may even consider setting up your own website or personal blog, as Ann Handley and Joe Chernov have done.
Step 2: Engage with influencers about your topic
As I have written about in the past, there are several types of influencers for every industry. When building your personal brand, the key point is that you should have a set of 10 to 20 influencers that you are targeting in order to extend the reach of your content and personal brand.
You can identify your influencers by doing some online research, or by asking your prospects and customers who they rely on for advice and information.
Once you have a list of influencers you are targeting, you can keep track of them using a spreadsheet, a customized CRM system, or even using lists on Twitter (thanks to Joe Chernov for this tip!). Then, start engaging with your influencers by commenting on their content and sharing it through your social media profiles.
Step 3: Create compelling content around a certain topic
For content marketers, this tip should be a no-brainer: Remember to focus on your target audience’s interests, issues, and needs in order to create interesting, engaging content that will be useful to them.
When starting out, it makes sense to focus on a narrow set of topics and develop yourself as the thought leader in that space. For example, Joe Pulizzi has had success doing so about content marketing, and Mike Stelzner has done this with social media.
When you have your topics nailed down, you are ready to start writing. An easy type of content to start with is blogging, but don’t rule out video, podcasts, eBooks, or articles — anything that will give you a forum for your insight and help you establish yourself as an expert that people can turn to for advice and information about your chosen topics.
Step 4: Share your content to increase the influence of your brand
Once you have created a body of content, be sure to share it in where those in need can find it. Naturally, this includes making sure to post it on your personal and company blogs (and Brody Dorland’s 12 easy but thorough steps to increase the reach of your blog posts can give you some ideas for getting started). But you should also be identifying opportunities to spread your influence outside of your immediate circle.
Options for this can include guest blogging on an influencer’s site, contributing guest articles to a popular publication (online or print) within your space, submitting yourself for speaking engagements, and attending meetings and events within your areas of interest/expertise. If you do attend events, don’t miss the opportunity to create additional content while you are on-site, as well. Filming videos, posting session recaps, and offering to interview other participants are great ways to maximize your exposure at busy, crowded conferences and conventions, which can go a long way toward getting your brand persona into the industry limelight.
What are some content related personal branding tips you have mastered?
Image credit: Mike Kolbrener