3 Dec 2011

Google Me: How to Brand Yourself Online and Manage Your Reputation

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer or a professional interested in learning how to present yourself as an expert in your respective field.  Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on a social media panel in Connecticut for a young professional organization entitled M.O.D Success and one of the main questions posed was how do I brand myself to get recognition as an expert in my field. Many professionals don’t realize the potential Search Engine Marketing and Social Media have as a branding tool for marketing yourself online and to manage your online reputation. They also do not know how to leverage the many tools to help maximize their online visibility amongst the experts.

The process of branding oneself is much easier than many people think; it takes some strategic effort and planning, but once in place is a great asset to you and your brand. Whether you are looking for a new job, starting your own business, or consulting, one of the first things people do is research you online. They want to see what others are saying about you as well as how you present yourself to the public.  Below are key steps on how to get started.
  1. Blogging/Podcast -  Having a blog or podcast is essential and is one of  the best ways to control and manage the content you would like to convey to future employers, colleagues, future customers and others.  First step would to be to write a compelling bio stating what your expertise is, your experience as well as where you see yourself in the future.  Make sure the content reflects your expertise in your field and your interests.
  2. Join Professional Networks - Linkedin is currently one of the most powerful professional business networks that you can utilize to build yourself as a brand and network with other like minded professionals.  LinkedIn allows you to have an online resume displaying your expertise, as well as accomplishments, and Colleagues and Business partners can also write reviews giving testament to your great work.  It also has great forums allowing you to answer questions directly correlated to your area of expertise and become known as an expert.  But don’t limit yourself to just LinkedIn there are many networks both on and offline that can help you grow your brand.
  3. Branded Pages on Social Networks - Join social networking sites like FaceBook, Twitter, Google Plus, Meetup.com and others to stand out among colleagues, experts, and those looking for valuable information that you offer pertaining to your expertise. Using FaceBook and Twitter, you can gain followers and fans.  By feeding information via status updates and providing links to your blog you can spread the word about your brand. Utilize Meetup.com to meet with other professionals and colleagues in your field or create your own meetup group that meets regularly.
  4. Emails - Something as simple as an email signature with your title and a link to your social networks and blogs can catch the attention of those that you interact with frequently. Also send out some of your recent blog posts to friends, family and colleagues that you think would be interested in the content and ask them to pass it along to individuals they think would be interested as well. This is an easy way to get referrals and new traffic to your site.
  5. Be Yourself – The most important advice when branding yourself is to be authentic. What differentiates you from others is yourself, no one can bring what you have to the table better than you can. Your uniqueness is what will set you apart from the world.  So say what you feel, hold on to your convictions, but at the same time be smart about what you put out there.  If you are not sure how a statement will come across to your audience think about another way it can be said -- or don’t say it all.  Not everything you think of needs to be said.


by Africa Hannibal at SocialMediaToday

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