How important is your name? Your brand?
In March, Fox and Friends interviewed Daniel Milstein, founder, president and CEO of Gold Star Financial Group and author of 17 Cents and a Dream: My Incredible Journey from the U.S.S.R. to Living the American Dream. In the interview, the news anchor asked him to share a trait or principle that’s contributed to his success – and he said:
“It’s all about working hard; it’s all about having a good reputation. One thing I have is my good name.” Daniel Milstein, 3/8/13.
This unscripted recommendation conveys the importance of building, maintaining and protecting your personal brand and reputation, both online and offline. As Wednesday’s article discussed:
(1) Businesses and recruiters use the Internet to seek out, screen and research potential job candidates.
(2) People have opinions and they are sharing them online.
(3) The Internet, social media in particular, is an open, democratic environment, and while you can’t control the content being shared, you can manage it.
So, instead of getting overwhelmed by the task – let’s discuss the first and potentially easiest steps to help build your brand online.
1. Discover your personal brand statement.
In sales its coined “USP” or unique selling proposition – what sets you a part from everyone else? There are over 200 million people on LinkedIn, so how can you differentiate yourself from the other 199 million users? Begin by asking yourself three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter? Remember it’s not about what others can do for you, but what you can do for others: how can your skills or expertise improve or advance an idea, make something better, easier, stronger or more efficient or help solve a problem, challenge or issue. To build on this, check out: Big Fish Marketing.
2. Claim your custom (or vanity) URL.
What is easier to remember?
Obviously, B! But, you’d be surprised how many people don’t claim their custom URL. If you haven’t done this – stop reading and do it now: LinkedIn Public Profile Steps. Using your full name is recommended, but if it’s already in use, click here for ideas.
You can also purchase a custom domain name or use a free personal web hosting service like Squarespace.com, Brandyourself.com, WordPress.com, Flavors.me, Tumblr.com, and more. A personal website improves search results and can also serve as a hub or landing page for your different social networks. Also, check out Namecheck. In one click it will show you if your desired domain name or social media username is available across multiple services.
3. Use social networks to build relationships & establish yourself as a thought leader.
As the popular Conversation Prism illustrates, social media, as a whole, can be overwhelming; so, instead of looking at it from the outside in – start from the inside out. Once you’ve identified your personal brand statement, use it to determine the social media tools that will help achieve your objective (i.e. new business, career change, promotion, new job).
Quality over quantity
What is social media? It’s the media people use to be social – to exchange ideas, build relationships. It is relationships that will help grow your business or advance your career, so stick to a manageable number of social media channels where you can establish your presence and build a network.
Join groups that do what you want to do
Step out of your comfort zone and seize the opportunity to network and learn from professionals who are already doing what you want to do (i.e. brand management, sports journalism, SEO).
Tips to Get Started
Listen | Discover | Analyze | Engage
“I’d love to be a fly on the wall!” Social media allows, almost invites, businesses and individuals to be “flies on the wall.” Listen. Find out what people are talking about, what they need, and where you can help.
Give more than you receive
Post comments, answer questions, ask questions, offer solutions. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them…always remember WIFM (what’s in it for me). For example, if you read an article that is relevant to a group member’s current project, share the link and include a brief note.
Be consistent and share fresh, relevant, compelling content.
One way to establish yourself as a thought leader is to start a blog; however, social media provides many alternatives, like Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Whichever tools you decide to use, the key is to consistently share fresh, relevant and compelling content.
Personal and positive is powerful.
Take the time to learn about your connections – whether it’s a new follower on Twitter or a person who commented on your blog or shared your content via Google+. Say thank you, respond, or share something he wrote or posted. Also keep in mind that people gravitate toward positive language and inspiring stories – when in doubt, share a relevant and motivating quote.
4. Monitor your brand and content relevant to your brand
Use monitoring tools to identify your audience (where should you be?), track trends (what are people talking about that is relevant to my brand?) and impressions (what’s my impact?), and evaluate your progress (how am I doing? what’s working and what can I do better?).
Free tools include: Google Alerts, Google Analytics, Social Mention, Klout, Reppler, Who’s Talkin, Technorati, Rebel Mouse and HootSuite to name a few.