I’m a new author on the Personal Branding Blog posting for the first time last week about using courtesy as a way of building a personal brand.
I got a question that had nothing to do with courtesy – well maybe in the abstract – but was it interesting nonetheless. Paul asked me, “What is the easiest way to build a personal brand online? Can you please suggest where to start and what to do?” Well, I would have to say the fact you are reading this post on a blog all about personal branding is a great start. There is so much rich advice here. And of course, our blog host, Dan Schawbel, has authored books that cover this topic including his new title; Promote yourself – the new rules of career success.
However, I think a good place for anyone to start is by asking themselves four questions.
Do you have enough time?
I am always cautious when asked about the “easiest” way to do something. Most tasks take effort to do well. A personal brand needs tending like a garden.
How much time do you have to put into this? Creating your online presence is the start of something, not the end. Don’t take this on unless you can set aside time daily or at least every couple of days to manage your online brand.
What do you want to be known for?
To build an online personal brand you need to stand for something. For me, it is providing advice on careers and the workplace. For you it might be dog training or urban design. Whatever it is, I recommend sitting down with someone who knows the “professional you” to talk over the finer details of what you want to be known for. Being a thought leader? Being someone who challenges the status quo in your sector? A trusted contact can also help you think about the consequences of what you want to do. When job hunting, employers will check you out online so please think about this.
How proficient do you want to become?
If you want “easy” then creating a profile on LinkedIn is a good way to go. You still have to make an effort by choosing a good photo and populating your profile with relevant information. For example, I have seen guys who re-use their wedding photo with their wife cut out and women who upload a holiday snap while wearing a swimsuit. Neither are a great look for a “professional” social media profile. Remember, everything you do online must align with your personal brand including your look.
Joining “Groups” on LinkedIn connected to your industry or sector is dead easy too and a good way to build and interact with your network. Creating a Twitter account is also simple. You can follow people who are already influential in your sector and even “meet” them online by commenting on what they post.
Or you can take it up a notch and create a blog without spending a cent. Just remember to choose a simple template. For example, don’t include images or video in your design unless you know how you are going to access this type of content.
Are you willing to invest to learn?
As well as images and video, writing for the web has its own rules. It isn’t rocket science but using headlines that are literal in meaning and making sure you use terms that are most commonly used in your sector will help you build an online personal profile.
A short course on writing for the web or blogging would be a great investment. However, if you don’t have the bucks then you still need to invest time. Ask someone in your network to coach you and buy them lunch or use your skills to help your coach in some way. You can also learn so much by searching online.
I first started working online in the late 90s. I have seen so many people become proficient before there were even any short courses or online webinars and training to access. However, they are all still learning as the web space is always changing. If they can learn, so can you. It’s your personal brand you are creating so any time and energy you invest will pay off.
Kate Southam has been giving people advice on careers for 13 years. She has been the editor of a career website, author of a syndicated newspaper column and remains a regular blogger. She also continues to coach individuals as well as provide commentary on careers and workplace issues to TV, radio and magazines. Kate is also a communications consultant advising businesses. Follow Kate on Twitter @KateSoutham.