Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Basics of Personal Branding

When you want to be noticed, whether to get employment, win an election, create confidence in clients and business partners, or simply attract new friends, you need to advertise yourself. In today's digital age where just about every information one needs can be obtained from the internet, that means crafting an online personal brand to your online presence. You would effectively be selling yourself online.

Branding is a common marketing strategy that positions a product or service in the consciousness of target markets or the public so that it gets the right prominence amidst similar products or services competing to be noticed and bought. Its approach makes little difference when applied to creating the online persona that makes you a winner in the minds of the people you want to reach out to. Since Tom Peters, author of several best selling marketing books in the 80s and 90s, first introduced the term in 1997, online personal branding has become the buzzword among people on the move to claim their right to success in their career, business, and socio-political relationships via the internet.

Know yourself and establish what value you stand for

You can't brand yourself if you are clueless about your worth. Take some time to assess yourself. Your personal brand reflects who you are and what value or worth you can bring to society. It encapsulates more than just the explicit information about your statistics, profession, experience, and education you put on the Web, such as an online resume or a profile in a social networking site like Facebook of LinkedIn. Your personal brand must be able to put all these things to bear on what value you can add to your employer, business partner, or constituent. A realistic assessment of what you can do, what you love to do, what your philosophy is and your insights about what's happening around, and how you can make a difference, creates a compelling persona that can win friends, achieve career advancement, and personal success. You don't have to say it, but your actions online will show.

What this means is that you need to be actively involved online. Not only should you have a social networking presence, but be active in updating it. Having a personal blog site or two is instrumental in crafting an online personal brand, as Tom Peters pointed out. Blogs, especially from Wordpress with your name in the URL, not only creates a permanent online presence, but defines your online personal branding identity with what you post in these blogs. Having one or two about your profession or hobby linked to your Facebook page creates a three-dimensional character behind your name. Guest posting, or putting your insights in other people's blogs that interest you can be just as effective in adding the brand character to your online persona.

Create your unique online presence

You can't very well brand yourself without a unique online presence. What you can do is nail down your identity in a domain name. That means buying your own URL or domain name, like For starters, make a Google search of your name and see what you find. If your name is unique enough, it may land on the first page if you have a Facebook, LinkedIn or other social networking accounts. Otherwise, you may find you have several namesakes all over the result pages. This can present an online personal branding problem, like having so many iPhone brands when there's only one that matters. Play around with your name. If you have several namesakes, add your middle initial(s) or spell it out to create a unique domain name for you. Once you have your unique domain name, create your website using conventional tools or use it in Wordpress and Blogspot.

Does your personal brand have to be your name?

Not necessarily. You may have several brands, the same way that Samsung has several cellphone brands like the popular Galaxy brand among them. If you already enjoy brand equity in your name, meaning you are famous or have significant audience following like a newspaper columnist, politician, or celebrity, then by all means, use your name in your URL as your personal brand. If you are also a professional like a doctor, or an engineer, using your own name as a brand is always a good idea. But you don't have to. Corbett Barr of Think suggests having branding identity that is closer to the general topic in your blog. A blog site name can be specific to a project you are doing, such as photography in Africa, or creating dish recipes. And you can have several that focus on any aspect of your life. Even a movie review, if you love movies, can be a blog site. Then just create your personal profile in an "About Us" section.

Get linked from reputable sites.

Having a blog or website creates an online presence but is just the first step in establishing your personal online brand. As they say, no man is an island. Your online personal branding won't amount to much if no one else online bothers to refer to your sites. Just like in a CV or resume, you add credibility with a list of references, having other sites refer or link to your site pages does the same thing. Quite apart from the fact that back-linking is a search engine optimization method to increase traffic to your website, the fact that your site is being linked to by other websites or blogs completes your online personal branding by creating a vote of confidence that adds to the credibility of you personal brand. Just be sure the sites that link or refer to your site are respectable and adds to your worth, not from notorious or pornographic sites.

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