How to Build a Personal Brand Online
Creating a personal brand online is in many ways inevitable. Social networks, search engines, online retailers and other sites collect information about everything you do online, aggregating likes, keywords and purchases into an online profile that aims to become your personal portrait on the Internet. How developed this online profile is and how well it works for you as a personal or business brand, is largely dependent on your ability to use the existing tools to shape your online image.
Who am I?
Before investing time and effort into building an online brand, ask yourself the existential question: who am I? Human beings are complex – which parts of the multi-faceted being that you are comprise your online self? For example, you may present yourself differently in your professional life than in your personal live – do you want your online brand to have a strictly professional focus or combine both? You can choose which parts of your online identity will have a professional focus and which ones you will keep for personal use only. If you don’t wish to be strictly professional in your online brand, you can allow elements from your personal life into the mix. What matters most here is that regardless of which characteristics you pick as the ones that describe you best, your online self is authentic and human.
When you’ve understood the characteristics of your online identity, reveal them through your communication style and social presence on the web. Add a current photo to all of your profiles and keep it consistent to create the equivalent of brand recognition online. Not all your social profiles need to have a professional focus, but a professional presence as part of your online brand is important. For example, you can use LinkedIn to track your educational and career development and keep in touch with professional peers, while devoting Twitter to what comprises the substance of your brand’s character – your interests, influences, questions or current events that provoke a strong reaction. However, even the accounts that you only share with friends and family will act as an extension of your personal brand with features like Facebook’s cover photo, timeline, likes and interests.
Thought leadership online is measured in a variety of currencies such as number of followers/friends, reach of influence, page views and reader engagement. Blog articles and white papers are a great way to build thought leadership and spread it by writing guest posts and insightful comments on relevant industry blogs. You can take your thought leadership a step further by participating in online events – webinars and videos that will capture your audience’s interest for longer, showcase your industry expertise and give you insight into your audience’s engagement.
As professionals stay connected and use Internet tools to aid their personal and professional development, they create an online image of themselves that invariably works as a personal brand. This presents a great opportunity to build a strong presence online, share knowledge and expertise and become an influencer.