So, you want to get noticed, earn respect, fans, more money, more sales. You want to pepper the web with your beautiful little avatar in search of career development.
You want to become a brand that stands for something.
Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do this, with time and effort made in the right places. So I thought I’d write up a checklist showing how to go about it.
Some of this is going to sound like best practice for a PR person, but essentially that’s the task in hand. Being as visible as possible is the best part of building a personal brand.
NB: this is aimed more at those fairly new to the world of marketing, but there's a few presumptive tips for those already established.
What do you stand for?
To form a personal brand it's obviously important you know what you stand for. This will differ depending on your job role, but here are some examples:
Lots of room here to stand for whatever you want, and it obviously will revolve around the area you work in. But a note of caution here, how specific do you want to be?
Do you want to be a Google Analytics expert, an analytics expert, a conversion expert, a data expert, a personalisation expert? All different things I guess, but the point is there's room for you to pick the best description for what you are styling yourself as.
Picking something that sounds paradoxically both niche and expansive is the goal here.
You stand for your product, yes, but your real passion should be broader. If you sell CRM software, get enthused about B2B and the funnel as a whole, about SAAS technologies, about marketing automation, about the history of CRM, or about the sales cycle.
The point here is don't start every conversation with 'why XXX is the best CRM solution'.
Client side marketers
You stand for your company brand, yes, but you should also stand for company culture, perhaps organisation change, perhaps sustainable manufacture, perhaps saving the high street.
Yes, some of these will reflect your company brand.
On top of your expertise, you'll likely want to specialise in a certain sector. If you're clientside, the one you work in. If you're agency side, you might want to specialise in your most important sector e.g. retail but also get involved where you have some interests out of work.
For example, I'm a fan of the visual arts, so I write about this a little on the Econsultancy blog. This in turn will lead more people to seek you out, as someone who is interested in the cross-section of two subjects.
Are you reading enough?
You need to do a lot of it.
If you don't have case studies and pearls of wisdom (purloined pearls are acceptable) to hand, you'll quickly look a bit silly.
Do you have style?
This doesn't mean you have to carry a cane and wear a hat.
Some people naturally have a style, and don't have to think about this. But if you're not a great public speaker, say, or perhaps you don't write with much verve (yet you are still very good at what it is you do), you should work on these things.
Speaking training and copywriting training is all practical stuff, and not something you should think is quack, or pointless.
Do you comment on blogs, such as...Econsultancy?
This is a fairly obvious tactic, but how best to do it?
- Get there first. It sounds infantile, but a blog author is most likely to check on his or her post earlier rather than later, and perhaps when the first comment notification email is received.
- Add appreciation, value and a link to further resources. Say thanks for the article, add an extra point and give a link. Not rocket science.
- If it’s a piece on your specialist subject, don’t be afraid to add a lengthy reply, even if it’s only opinion. Dan Barker (try clicking on his face below) does this to great effect on the Econsultancy blog.
- Comment as often as you can. You’ll get noticed. Koozai staff comment regularly on Econsultancy blog posts and as such, they’re usually at the forefront of our minds. Here’s an example.
Commenting on blog posts is a win-win. The readers get more content, the website gets more engagement and more views, and you the commenter get more authority.
Are your social profiles standardised?
That means making sure you add the most appropriate links to your profiles, whether that be cross-promoting social profiles or adding a link to your personal blog or company page.
Get your description right, too. Although it’s good to have something to add character, make sure there’s nothing too polarising, such as crap music taste (rap metal, for example).
Do you use the same avatar across your social network profiles?
If you’re on the periphery of someone’s network, it’s important to maintain a consistent image. It sounds obvious, but make sure the picture is:
- A good likeness
- As high res as possible
- Suitable for repurposing – no other people in the shot, or pint glasses
Are you jacking Twitter?
A key part of personal branding is Twitter. Here’s what you should do:
Have you got a Twitter handle with your name in it?
I don’t, unfortunately. And I should change it.
Having a memorable Twitter handle is great. Mine is taken from the pontificating lawyer in Kafka’s The Trial (QED), but having people know your name is more important.
Are you too shy?
Everybody enjoys being flattered. The act of following someone is the surest way to make that person check your profile out in turn. That’s gold dust quite frankly.
As gaining followers and engagement on Twitter can seem like it follows an exponential curve, in the beginning it will be difficult to build your Twitter following.
Tweeting bon mots is great if you have the talent, but it’s the more prosaic stuff of following others and replying and retweeting that will raise your profile.
If you’re going to email someone for the first time, do you follow them first?
This is a key concept for the soft sale, whether you’re selling software or doing PR.
Have you tried flattering with lists?
Make use of public Twitter lists already out there, sure, but create your own, too. Make them public for extra impact, even with a flattering title such as ‘must-follow marketers’ for example.
When you add someone, they’re sure to notice.
Here’s some social media lists to take note of, from Kissmetrics.
You do use Hootsuite, right?
If you’ve got any blog posts (or any media) out in the wild, or have commented on others’, you need to know when they are talked about.
Doing this in Twitter is fine, but it’s a lot easier to set up searches in Hootsuite (or TweetDeck), and check in from time to time.
Aesthetics: are you using wallpaper and header images?
Don’t simply pick a Twitter theme. Try making your own background image that includes some more information about yourself.
This might be a good place to include a biog that you otherwise can’t fit into the Twitter UI.
There are also creative things you can do with your header image, such as this.
The obvious other option, and a little more boring, is to include the branding of your company. Check out the example below, which links to a Smashing Magazine article on just this subject.
Are you taking enough photos?
This is particularly important when you're at a conference or event. If anybody is curating social activity, as Econsultancy has done with StoryStream, they'll be more inclined to include your tweets etc if there are images included.
Of course, it also makes your feed inherently more interesting to have a mixture of media, and fills your photo gallery, so people can see how much schmoozing you get up to.
Use handles and hashtags
Another obvious point, but include lots of 'via' tweets, and jump on hashtags. There's no point tweeting into the unknown or the tiny garden of your 57 followers.
Are you jacking Google+?
Have you got your Google Authorship mark-up sorted
On your own editorial and also when you guest blog. If you've sent a piece to an industry blog, make sure you clearly send your G+ profile link and ask for it to be included on your author page.
Then add a link to the blog from your G+ 'contributor to' field.
Just engage. Did you know early adopters are noted?
When users mention Econsultancy on G+, it's always noted, and it leads me to think, irrespective of the future for G+, that the person in question is quick on the uptake and someone worth noticing.
This applies for any nascent social network.
Are you jacking conferences?
Why can't you stay the day!?
It's tempting to get in the pub, or to go and eat, or get home early. But, much like your social life, being out there is half of the way to having fun.
Staying to the end of the day is important to do as much networking and take up as much content as possible. Bear that in mind at the next Econsultancy event you will inevitably attend.
Please don’t tweet, ok?
Yep, you heard me. I'm being disingenuous though, what I mean is don't tweet during talks. Wait until afterwards, think about what you've heard, digest some of the important stats and fact, and then tweet the perfect 140 character summation of a particular point.
It's bound to be picked up more than trite utterances of others. Our research analyst Bola Awoniyi did just this during our Festival of Marketing this month, and gained respect and followers.
The regular tweeters at Econsultancy events are notorious in our office, even if we haven't met some of them (here's looking at you, Victoria Crumpet).
Are you jacking LinkedIn?
The motive when someone looks at your LinkedIn page is always similar to that of an employer. Whoever the person is, they're checking to see if you're credible.
So make sure you've added plenty of information, and connected with a fair few people.
Ready to speak?
Are you ready?
There are many speakers on the circuit. You've got to make sure you don't take to the stage with nothing to say. Talk about your own work and then nobody will know more than you do.
Do you whack your presentation on slideshare before the talk?
Sharing your presentation straight away allows hacks to cover it for their respective rags. It also allows people to share your deck when it's still fresh in attendees' minds.
Putting a bit.ly link in the presentation or letting the audience know you'll be tweeting from @xxx with a link, is a good ploy.