There are a lot of people who could care less about what others, outside of their immediate circles, know or think about them. Some of these people haven’t given it a thought and don’t need to; others have high privacy needs or for some specific reason, specifically choose to keep a low profile.
But if you want to get hired, be promoted, change careers, write books, sell books, consult in your field, teach, speak, start a business or grow a business, you may want to read on. It will behoove you to care about how people see you and, therefore, you will need to put yourself, your ideas and your voice out in the world for people who are looking for your message, in your particular voice, to find.
Today the web gives us an unprecedented opportunity to get our message out and to show people who we are and what we can do in a way a resume on Monster.com can never do. We have not always had this magic power available to us and there is no assurance that we have it in the future. But today, if you have some talent and ability and put it out there, you can find and reach the people who are eager for your message. Of course, not everyone will like you or what you have to say, but that is life. So don’t hide out! Speak up and out, in your own voice, and make it easier for your people to find you, read your blog, buy your book, see your reviews, know you, trust you, hire you and work with you.
I work with people from all ages and spectrums of life from twenty somethings just starting out, to sixty somethings starting a new path and my advice is the same. Take the time to build and maintain an online branded presence for yourself. This can be a daunting process as it causes you to confront who you are, what you really have to offer and how to be authentic, yet strategic. It is often much easier to do this for a company whether it is your own, or one you work for; and much more difficult to come out from behind the safety of a brand to build your own. The problem is that even if it is your own company, circumstances may change and you might want to start or do something else. If you have not let yourself be known, you have lost valuable time when you could have hit the ground running.
Personal Branding is the process of determining your most important core attributes and communicating them with consistency. Whether you realize it or not, you are always communicating things about yourself: your handshake, clothes, sense of humor, work ethic, your subject matter knowledge, history, birth order, the car you drive and your ethical positions, make up your unique brand and sets you apart from others. Today it’s possible and relatively easy to define yourself and make sure that the people you want to reach see who you are across every possible medium.
Here are a few ways to invest in your future by building your brand and have it prominent in a Google search.
1. Have professional head shots taken of you that you can use for your profiles on Social Media sites. You should use the same one across the board and it should reflect the real you and appear approachable, unless presenting an aloof, uptight or unapproachable facade is an intentional part of your brand.
2. Start and keep up a social media presence by setting up and maintaining accounts on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Slideshare. Keep your profile, contacts and recommendations current on LinkedIn. Join Twitter with your real name and find people in your industry to follow. Forty percent of the people you follow will follow you back. Use an app like Hootsuite to send updates to multiple accounts. Don’t drive yourself crazy with it, but plan to spend at least 15 minutes a day checking in and connecting with people on the social media properties you find most helpful.
3. Start a blog about something you are passionate about. This is where your brand can differentiate itself. Back in the day, websites were used as brochures telling people what you did and how good you were. With content management websites like WordPress, you have the ability to show people who you are and what you can do by telling stories that show your values and experience, sharing relevant information, teaching and presenting your expertise. Develop a following. Build know, like and trust.
4. Develop your “List” which is the new Rolodex. By doing the things above, you can develop a following of people who want to hear what you have to say online and in a newsletter. Put an e-mail opt in form on your website to collect e-mail addresses and regularly send out a newsletter with information of interest to your readers which will remind them of you and your website. Your list is precious and critical to your long-term success and growth. My Easy Peasy Newsletter Course can help.
Anyone can do these things, but few will. So this is a terrific way to position yourself and gain recognition and respect for you and your endeavors.