Three Key Steps to Securing your Personal Brand Online
Lately I have been doing some network development work for a client and so as a result have spent a lot of time searching for a targeted list of senior executives. It has jumped out at me how many senior business people simply aren't attending to their online and Social brand. For those at the insanely busy end of the spectrum, it is easy to understand how sustained and systematic Social networking is a significant challenge (although not impossible as someone like Andy @kiwilark Lark has proved). However, at least taking the time to nail down and own your online personal brand is far less of a task, so I thought I'd gather some resources and tips on that. Anyone who has looked up someone on Google, or Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook will know that on a global scale there's almost no such thing as a unique name. There's often hundreds of people with the same name as you - if you are lucky. Sometimes, if you're "Jim Smith", there's thousands. Getting found on Social Networking sites or on Google itself will become increasingly key to getting found by recruiters, potential business partners, customers or prospects.
It is important to take a few simple steps to secure your own identity before someone else does so there's no confusion and opportunities don't go begging.
This isn't the business of just securing the right username, but goes well beyond that. You need to separate yourself from all the other "Jim Smiths" - you are the only one that counts. When a recruiter or customer searches for you, they want you to jump off the page at them. It can get very time consuming investigating a bunch of people to check you have the right guy or girl. Often people don't have the time to bother, the moment passes and the connection doesn't happen. Here are some steps to ensure you have the beginnings of a consistent brand:
- Ensure you have the same or similar profile images across all your online properties. People who find you interesting on Twitter will want to easily connect with you on LinkedIn (and visa versa) and a consistent profile image makes this quick and easy. (Ideally make this a clear photo of yourself rather than an abstract or brand image.)
- Ensure you have a consistent biography across all your channels. Take care to keep the keywords the same at least. Not only does this assist your search rankings but makes sure that people have the confidence that you are the expert you appear. Make sure also your geography is consistently stated (this makes it very easy to be distinguished from the other 350 Jim Smiths in the US!)
- Try and bring all your properties back to the same URL. About.Me is a very good service for this, serving well to collate all your various manifestations on one big page that makes it easy for people to find your web site/s, your LinkedIn or Twitter Profile, your You Tube or Slideshare presence, your blog/s etc.
Beyond these three basic steps, I have written here before about how "Affinity Content" is a simple strategy for building your profile, advancing your search rankings and creating serendipitous opportunities by activating your network. Furthermore, you can measure your influence and effectively KPI your Social activity using Klout, which I have written about recently in the post "Klout: what is it and how does it work?".
(At a more advanced level, if you are creating content (blogging etc) then secure your "Google Authorship" to massively "game" your personal search rankings. Learn more about this here.)
Finally here are three other useful blog posts about managing your profile online:
- "Build your personal brand for business success" at BT Insights
- "How to build your personal brand" at WikiHow
- "Can you tweet your way to a new job?" at Fortune Magazine
For senior executives, it is worth looking at this Infographic on how the Social CEO will evolve in coming years. For more on the role of the CEO on Social, you can read this blog post I wrote last year: "CEOs should Tweet from the top."
Ultimately, you've invested your entire career building up your reputation and real-life profile; it is madness to not take an hour or two out to own it online.