In David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of PR & Marketing, he draws out a great analogy of the digital ecosystem. The web is a city and within that city corporate sites are storefronts, Craigslist is like the bulletin board at the entrance of the corner store, eBay a garage sale and Amazon a superstore. Mainstream media sites like the New York Times online are the newspapers of the city, chat rooms and forums are pubs and saloons while social media is one big cocktail party.
You are a brand that lives in this physical and digital world and if you want to get your name out there and be known, you have to build a personal brand. Here are five key things you need to do to make this happen:
1. Have a Plan & Goals
You can’t begin creating a personal brand without setting out a plan and goals for what you are seeking to achieve. As the author Simon Sinek states, start with why? Are you seeking to be a thought leader, influencer or are you seeking to start your own business and sell your expertise? Building a personal brand may sound self-righteous and vain but think of it in the entrepreneurial spirit as a way for you to sell yourself as a business. Setting out your goals will dictate the different actions you will take and how you should take them. To hold yourself accountable to your goals, write them out and ensure you split out short-term (1-2 years) vs. long-term goals (3-5 years). Finally, establish the core of your brand. What do you want to stand for and how can you help others?
2. Build Your Digital Storefront
If the web is a city, you need a digital storefront where people can find you and learn more about who you are. If you are looking to invest some serious time in this storefront and build it with your own hands, you can create a personal website or blog. If you are looking to lease some digital space, you can make your storefront your LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook or About.me profiles. These ‘rental properties’ work well but there is just something special about creating something with your own hands, digital brick by brick. When you are at digital cocktail parties (social media), don’t you want to have your own place that you own where you can tell people where to go to if they want to learn more about you?
3. Use Social Media Strategically
In Step 1, you established the core of your brand so now that you have this blue print, ensure you stick to it on social media. Social media should no longer be a place where you post selfies of yourself from the club. If you take your brand seriously, this needs to be reflected in social media. Share content that you feel your tribe would get value from, engage in Twitter conversations where you can help others and make sure that your LinkedIn profile is filled out completely and the best it can be. Social media is your key digital networking event. Reach out to people you admire and try to take that digital relationship off-line. You can find some great mentors via social platforms. All you have to do is leverage and harness the power of these digital ‘cocktail’ parties to the advantage of your personal brand.
4. Always Keep Learning
Have the ‘always keep learning’ mindset. It’s ok to read short-form content via web articles and social media posts but there is still a huge benefit from long-from content in books. As a business book reviewer, I blog about the books I read so that I can store what I’ve learned digitally. This is helpful for me when I’m writing a creative brief or carving out a strategic plan. You must read, listen to podcasts and follow those that you greatly admire and want to emulate. You grow and refine your brand by learning and being inspired by others.
5. Give, Give, Give, Ask
Gary Vaynerchuk coined the term, ‘Give, Give, Give, Ask’. What it means is, before you ask anything from anyone, first give. And don’t just give one time, give many times. How do you give you may ask? Comment on someone’s blog post, share their content, write a review of their book on Amazon. Search throughout Twitter on how you can help people. Bring value to others before asking them for anything. Give so much that when you finally want to cash in an ‘ask’, people will bend over backwards to help you. But even if they don’t, help people anyways without expectations because it will help build your personal brand. Living by the ‘Give, Give, Give, Ask’ philosophy will grow your personal brand leaps and bounds. It will help you connect with people you admire and make you attractive to others who wish to join your tribe.
If you are starting your own personal brand, there are two books you must read by Dan Schawbel, Me 2.0 and Promote Yourself: The New Rules of Career Success. These are two great personal branding resources that will surely help you. Remember that you and only you are in charge of your personal brand. Your new resume is what Google says about you so start building your digital footprint quickly. If you are holding back because you don’t want to put anything out there until it’s perfect, stop right now and in the words of the Nike brand, Just Do It!