This is the seventh of ten posts where we follow Marcos Salazar’s personal branding journey, as he uses the concepts and four-step process outlined in Me 2.0 for his own career.
Whenever I get a notification that someone is following me on Twitter, I visit their profile and take a look at their website. If they don’t have a personal website or simply link to their company site, I usually don’t follow them. Why not? Because their online presence is giving me the impression that they are most likely not going to contribute much to the conversation.
In my last post, I discussed how to use the techniques of narrative, being a purple cow, and understanding context to create a strong offline presence. These same principles can be used to create a powerful online presence as well and prevent incidents such as the one above from happening to you. Below is how I’ve learned to use these strategies to help differentiate my personal brand online and how you can use them to create a brand that grabs your audience’s attention and keeps it.
Using a “blogsite” to create a narrative
Whether we realize it or not, we are all creating a narrative about ourselves online. Everything we post, comment on, or upload is contributing to the story of who we are online – potentially to millions. And even if you don’t make a conscious effort to create an online presence, that too is a narrative because you are leaving your personal brand to chance.
This is why a blogsite – a hybrid of a blog and a website – is so essential to creating a strong online presence and is one of the main principles found in Me 2.0. By having a website that allows you to both blog and provide addition biographical information, you can take control of your online narrative and begin telling people the unique story of who you are and what you think within the field that interests you.
Before venturing on this personal branding journey, my blogsite focused on personal development for young professionals. However, if you visit my main website you’ll see that the focus of it has shifted due to what I’ve learned on my personal branding journey. Now my site is centered around being a Renaissance Worker, Career Adventurism, and Psychology Development for Young Professionals. And as time goes on I will be providing more and more content that not only benefits people within these topics, but also adds to my narrative and makes my brand stronger.
Being a purple cow online
One thing you always want to do is try to differentiate your blogsite in some way. Common strategies are covering unique topics or through unique site design. For example, a great title to your blog such as Matt Cheuvront’s site Life Without Pants can turn you into a purple cow and draw people in to ask why you named your site a certain way. Or you can create a memorable logo and display well known news outlets associated with your site such as the ones found on the Personal Branding Blog home page.
Another great technique is to have a unique picture on your website. Seth Godin’s image is a great example of this. He is well known for his bald head and if you go to his site, he has a picture displaying the top of his head front and center. It is not a loud or crazy image. It simple, shows his personality, and draws you in.
In redoing my blogsite, I decided to use a simple and easy to navigate design as well as have a fun and interesting image on the sidebar that provides a visual representation of being a Renaissance Worker capable of jumping from project to project. My friend Wendy Ploger originally took the photo for my website BoroThreads and I had her get a little creative and alter it a bit for my personal website. I have gotten some great feedback about the photo. Such images can add to your narrative by providing readers with a sense of your personality, creativity, and display a more human side of you that can increase interest and make visitors want to find out more about your personal brand.
Online social networks and context
In many ways, social networks are extensions of your main website and can fill in important details to the narrative you are trying to create for your personal brand. For example, your LinkedIn profile provides people with a detailed look at your professional life and allows other to give recommendations that can add rich information to the story of who you are. Flickr can provide a concrete view of things you are involved in such as events, trips, or project. And YouTube allows you to create content that gives your narrative human elements and lets people see more of your personality.
But in thinking about each social network, it’s important to keep context in mind. For example, you won’t want to post information that is too personal on LinkedIn because this is where your professional network resides and you don’t want to potentially damage your reputation. You may use Facebook more for keeping up with friends, so will not want to inundate them with lots of posts or updates about things happening within your field. Or on Twitter, where everything posted is on public display, you may not want to post highly personal information that can make you look unprofessional or damage your brand.
How does this impact my narrative?
When using these (or just about any strategy) in developing your personal brand, one thing to always keep in mind is that anything you post could have an impact on the narrative you are trying to create. So when forming a strategy, ask yourself, “How is this going to contribute to the story I want to tell?” Finding answers to this question will provide you with a good guide in developing a strong personal brand both on and offline.
Marcos Salazar is the author of The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide, which focuses on the psychology of life after college and what graduates go through as the make the transition from school to the working world. He writes a career adventurism and psychological development blog for young professionals at www.marcossalazar.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @marcossalazar.