Back in September 1997 the front cover of Fast Company signified the importance of branding for executives with the headline ‘A Brand Called You – you can’t move up if you don’t stand out.’ The same message is still being spread on a daily basis. In a sea of sameness, to be found, you need to find ways to stand out.
Last year, Time magazine carried an article on a study by team of social scientists concluding that the practice of self-Googling (or “ego-surfing,” as it’s sometimes called) can partly be traced to a rise in narcissism in society, but that it is also an attempt by people to identify and shape their personal online “brand.”
Famous or not, we brand ourselves daily through how we act, speak and look. Most of us do it unintentionally, unaware of the messages we send out. It is only when someone we know and respect says ‘that doesn’t seem like you’ about something we’ve done or said that we get a glimpse of this continuous process. For business people there are many elements that shape your personal brand – from what you wear, the industry you work in, your imagery, to the messages you deliver and your online brand footprint. If we can define our personal brand fully and accurately we can leverage it to maximum effect through offline and online networking.The elevator pitch, which we practice while networking is an extension of this personal brand. It is dynamic and changes with time, just like Madonna’s, which grew and evolved with time from rockstar to author – fearless mastery of her brand and message. Much time and energy is required to keep your online brand fresh and meaningful.
Building your brand online is similar to a networking breakfast, although it’s not quite as easy. First, it’s important to have a clearly defined strategy for reaching your audience. Next, you need to identify the tactics you’ll use in the process. Leverage your offline partnerships to grow your reputation online. The more prevalent your brand becomes in the minds of your peers, the stronger your reputation will grow online.
Steps to developing an online brand:
Define your personal brand – the distinctive organizing principles that make you you.
this is all about how you look in person and online – how do you create a visual representation of your personal brand?
your language skills, tone of voice and the type of messages you send out: are they congruent to your desired outcome?
An understanding of your brand context will determine how and where your personal brand can be applied most effectively.
Personal branding requires a commitment of at least a few hours each month. As you develop your brand online it will attract more traffic through cross-linking with others in your field, opening the door to more opportunities for you.
As people begin to see your name and become aware of the benefit and knowledge that you offer, they will begin to seek out your services and expertise. They will identify with your brand which is YOU.