Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, says that “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Your reputation is built by what people see, and much of that may be determined by your online presence.
According to an AVG study, 92 percent of children already have some sort of digital footprint by the time they are two years old, such as sonogram pictures, photo albums and even email addresses. You already have some sort of online reputation before you even start to think about it. Whether you mean to or not, you are cultivating your own personal brand when you present yourself and interact with others online.
Why Build a Personal Brand?
When you have a strong personal brand, it will help you build the kind of contacts you want. Networking is always going to be one of your strongest needs. Building your network will, in turn, help you build your business.
People who are interested in your company will be interested in you and will be attracted to your story. Customers and clients want the personal connection and will respond more strongly to a personal brand they can relate to. You want your personal brand to make people want to get to know you.
What Can You Use to Make Up Your Personal Brand?
Before you get started, check out your online presence. Google yourself, and set up alerts for new information. You want to be aware of what is already out there before making changes.
Your personal brand is made of many things, including your business card and your many online accounts. Professionals often stick to a minimal presence, such as a LinkedIn profile, but people will appreciate being able to find more personal information about you, such as on a Twitter or Facebook account.
You might even want to think about having your own personal website. This is one of the best ways to get your name ranked on the online search engines, making you extremely visible and searchable. Your website doesn’t need to be large or fancy. A few pages can include your resume, bio and links to your other online accounts.
Tips for Managing Your Personal Brand
1. First, strategize. What kind of message are you trying to put out there? Who do you think your audience will be? You don’t need to associate everything with your business, but you do need to decide what kind of values you want to promote. Think about what makes you different and how what you offer is special.
2. Make yourself accessible. Don’t change your settings to private because interested connections will want to be able to interact with you. You can arrange times where you answer questions or have online conversations with others. People will feel a personal connection when they feel you are available.
3. Be genuine and honest. Your audience will want to feel as though they are getting to know the real you, not just a facade or a character. When they really connect with you, they’ll be more likely to become loyal to your brand.
4. Understand your industry, and make yourself an online expert. Use your online presence to show your connections to the business, and post news and updates that others will find important. Try to stay ahead of others by finding new trends so that you can be seen as a leader. Your audience will respect and look up to you.
5. Practice two-way communication when networking. Don’t just try to get something out of your relationships that helps you, but give back when you can. Introduce those you think will be able to help each other, and don’t monopolize conversations. We can build each other up. Not only will you feel good about helping others in your network, this will significantly raise the value of your personal brand as people see your openness and generosity.
6. Join a networking group like the National Association of Professional Women. You can find the support you need with a built-in network of professionals with similar goals. They have local chapters that will help you meet professionals in your own area, and they can help you promote your business, product or service. Not only that, they give back to the community, raising awareness of important issues and promoting the kinds of values you want to be associated with.