It is almost 2011 and I think by now, we all know that an important part of personal branding takes place in social media. But, do you have a plan for that?
Before you choose and decide which social networks you want to use for your personal branding, you should have a strategy in mind. Understand what image you want to portray, and, more importantly, realize that it’s not you who will determine what people think, but rather, your brand will be determined how people see you and how true you are to your it.
A road map that helps me focus when I want to start new directions in my business and expand my personal brand comes from IDEO, the leading design and innovation firm here in Palo Alto, and its five principles for brainstorming:
- Stay focused on the topic
- Encourage wild ideas
- Defer judgment
- And build on the ideas of others
So look at your brand, and begin brainstorming (with friends and colleagues) your strategy by asking:
- What do you want to accomplish
- How will you show your uniqueness
- Who do you want to reach
- What does your audience want to know about you
- How often will you have time to update your social networking accounts
- Do you really have the discipline to contribute regularly with fresh news or information?
- And how will your actions make you feel about yourself and your personal brand development day to day
When you’ve answered these questions and are sure you know where you’re going, it’s time to design your strategy and how you’re going to implement your answers.
But before going there, I think you should consider one other aspect that looks at what the outcome will be. Is what you’re doing making you happy?
The other day I listened to Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor, Jennifer Aaker, talk about her new book, The Dragonfly Effect, in which she writes: “Ensure that your goal is personally meaningful such that the thought of achieving the goal would bring happiness to you and your audience – in some way.”
This is one of the areas we rarely consider before launching our personal branding campaign. I, myself, think that the only way you will have a personal brand that lasts, that resonates and says something meaningful about you is one that you approach with passion and conviction and, it makes you happy. This passion and happiness have to be felt in your online life as well.
And, remember, when you set up your individual social networking accounts, use the same picture and same user name consistently. There is nothing worse in the long run than having one account as “joe smith” and the other one as “joseph smith”.
Without listing all possible ways of cutting down on time posting to and reading your various social media sites, the social media dashboard HootSuite is a good way to keep track and manage your sites, as well as TweetDeck.
Below are some well-known online communication channels you should plug into in order to brand yourself:
1. Begin with a blog. If you already have one, you’ve probably noticed that it ranks very highly in a Google search of your name, so that should help with the motivation factor and keep you going. There is so much information about blogging and “how to”, I’m not going to go into details here, but if you are really at a loss for a topic, check out Guy Kawaski’s alltop.com for the most widely read and up-to-date blogs. When you read them, maybe that will trigger thoughts of your own.
2. Create a Facebook business page and start posting articles relevant to your interests and brand. (Read How to Use Facebook to Promote Your Business for Free.)
3. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out, with 3 recommendations and a nice photo showing you in the best light [business casual works best]. LinkedIn is the first place people will usually go to find out what you’re about.
4. If you think you can tweet regularly, set up a Twitter account and find your community. If you’re new to it, read some well-known social media [or people related to your own business] experts to get some ideas of what you can tweet. Twitter takes a while to get the hang of; Mashable is a great source to help you get going.
5. Start your own YouTube channel. With a Cisco Flip camera (available at Costco) interview people who can give valuable information to your audience, talk about what you do, what you are passionate about – in short 2 to 3 minute segments – and show how different you are than other people in your field.
6. If you’ve set up all of your social media accounts, go fill out your Google Profile, you’ll see it on the bottom of the page when you Google yourself (“your name”).
And as Chris Brogan says, “blur your media”. He thinks it is more interesting to not just concentrate on Facebook or Twitter, or on your blog but he advises us to look for ways to mix up our social media strategy.
This Winter Quarter, beginning January 18, 2011 for 6 weeks, I’ll be teaching a class on personal branding at Stanford, called “Branding Yourself Strategically” where we’ll look at the areas listed, but in much greater depth; so if you’d like to, please join us. This class is open to anyone who wants to enroll; you don’t have to be a Stanford student.
Angelika Blendstrup is an expert at International Business Communications: Personal Branding, Accent Reduction, Presentation/VC Pitch Training; Author & Speaker Professional Business Communications.