Your personal branding strategy depends solely on your long-term goals. You have to brand yourself for the career you want, not the job you have. This means that how you brand yourself online is completely dependent on your chosen career path: employee, entrepreneur, and consultant. Each of these types of workers has to maintain their online brand presence regardless of career phase and age. The difference between each path is what information you reveal, which domain(s) you select, how you build your product, develop your community, and market yourself. As I consult with more and more professionals and executives, the same question keeps coming up: “what type of brand do you want to develop”? I always need to figure out what their long-term goal is in order to craft a brand strategy and marketing communications plan.

Here are some simple, yet effective, guidelines for developing a long-term online branding strategy.

3 types of working professionals

1. Employee brand

If you’re an employee, or you’re a job seeker who wants to work for a company long-term, then your goal is to build your employee brand. This requires 75% of your efforts building your brand in the workplace, forging strong relationships across your company, gaining visibility with executive decision makers, and taking on big “revenue generating” projects. 25% of your time should be focused on crafting an online presence aligned with your job title, function, and day-to-day operations. Before you start a blog, a website, or develop your social media profiles, you must get consent with management. This means that they are aware with your intentions, and see your presence as a benefit to your current job, rather than a threat. The employee brand has to be updated and maintained as titles change, and experience develops.

2. Entrepreneur brand

An entrepreneur is one who seeks to build a company bigger than themselves. You might have a full-time job, but you’ve come to grips that you’re an entrepreneur and you can’t work for anyone. The way you brand yourself online needs to reflect the company you want to start. If your current job responsibilities have nothing to do with what you’re passionate about and want to start a business in, then avoid them when crafting your online brand. For instance, if you want to start a restaurant franchise, you should become food or franchise expert first, then create a brand presence around your ideas and expertise. Eventually, if you’re good enough, you will already have demand for your future restaurant. Entrepreneurs need two websites. One for their company and one for their personal brand. Both of the sites should have consistent branding, link to each other, and support each other. Remember that the media and customers want to hear your story, not just buy your products.

3. Consultant brand

A consultant is an individual who provides a service to one or more clients. I typically recommend that consultants establish their own identity on the web, under their full name (i.e.,, etc). This way, they are 100% building their personal brand, which is their company. It’s much easier to build one brand name instead of two. The best way to brand yourself as a consultant is to master a skill that’s in-demand and scarce. This way, you’ll always be in business, and you have the option to become more entrepreneurial, establish partnerships, and turn your name into a bigger business if you want to scale it.

3 considerations regardless of career path

There will always be a few things to keep in mind as you progress in your career from now on. The world is obviously different than it was five years ago and you have to be smarter and faster with how you manage your career. Here are three points you should consider when building your brand, regardless if you’re an employee, consultant, or entrepreneur.

1. Multiple streams of revenue

Relying on a single form of revenue these days is foolish. That’s like investing in only one stock. If you lose your job or the stock plummets, then you become financially unstable and desperate. There are so many ways to generate revenue right now that you can make use of, such as blog advertising, eBooks, presentations, webinars, part-time consulting work, and more. By diversifying your revenue portfolio, you’ll be more confident, richer, be able to make better career decisions, and protect yourself.

2. Networking for career protection

The number one reason why you should be active and involved online is for professional networking. By networking before you look for a job or start a company, you will have resources at your disposal who can help you when you require it. By avoiding online networking now, you are at risk of a longer job search, and you’re limited your career opportunities.

3. Get famous for more career options

By becoming a celebrity in your field, you aren’t just attracting attention. You’re also opening up the doors to future career possibilities. If people know who you are and what you do, then it’s easy for them to think of you when a certain opportunity arises. I call this brand equity, but for you it’s a way to attract jobs and career opportunities, without cold calling and begging for them. It’s a huge time-saver!

Announcement: The 2nd edition of Me 2.0 is available for pre-order!

I’m proud to announce the revised and expanded edition of my #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0! It’s officially available for pre-order, and comes out in book stores on October 5th. There will be new case studies, examples, research, resources, advice, and a “brand” new chapter with a step-by-step process on using social networks for a successful job search.

Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan, October 2010) is the bestselling career book that will help you command your career and create your future, using social media tools. It will take you through a proven process that will explain how you can discover, create, communicate and maintain your own personal brand throughout the course of your life. With rave reviews from Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith, Keith Ferrazzi, and Gary Vaynerchuk and media mentions from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many others, what are you waiting for! You don’t want to be the 100,000th person to read this book. Read it now to stay relevant, get a job faster, and achieve your dreams.