I'm an online people watcher. I love seeing how others manage their personal brands, and shape their online reputations.
In today's digital age, your personal brand is a big deal.
Here is why.
A survey conducted by Edelman found that 65% of Internet-users consider online information about people to be highly trustworthy (source).
The recruiting industry in particular thrives on this information. Another study, by CrossTab, found that 70% of recruiters or hiring managers have rejected a candidate based on information they sourced online; conversely, the same study found that 85% of hiring managers admit favorable online information is a huge plus for a hiring decision (source).
The point is, online reputation matters, and that reputation is your brand. To some extent, that brand is out of your control; however, there are things you can do to manage your online reputation, and ultimately, your brand.
Here are the tactics used by some of the savviest players in the personal branding world.
1. They invest in a professional photo.
Your picture says more about you than anything else. Like it or not, people form judgments about you simply by looking at your face.
- Make it professional. Trust me here. If it's worth spending $680 on clothes (the American annual average), then it's worth spending a small portion of that on a professional headshot.
- Just you. No pets. No kids. No cars. No scenic backdrops.
- Use a photo of your face only (no sunglasses or hats).
- Smile. Researchers say it makes people like you.
- Dress the part. If you're a professional, dress like it. Nothing says "I matter" like a well selected outfit.
2. They spiff up their LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is viewed as the web's de facto resume repository.
Needless to say, LinkedIn is much more than a resume. It's an entire networking world of its own, where you can polish your reputation until it's gleaming.
Your status on LinkedIn communicates to other professionals that you can do quality work. How? Tell your story. Form connections. Earn endorsements. Seek recommendations.
The more active and connected you are on LinkedIn, the greater exposure you'll gain among the people who matter.
3. They guest blog.
Guest blogging is writing content for other blogs.
Guest blogging is a form of content marketing, the practice of using content to attract customers. By publishing great content, the readers of that blog will hear about you, they will recognize you, and they will respect you.
Be warned! Choose guest blogging sites carefully. Not every guest blogging opportunity is worth taking.
4. They outsource what they don't have time for.
It takes a lot of time to grow a personal brand. Many influential people are very busy, so they can't spend the time on it that they might want to.
What's the solution? They certainly don't neglect it. The moment you neglect your personal brand, it's power and visibility diminishes.
- Curate content to share.
- Create custom graphics.
- Edit and proofread your articles.
- Find places to guest post.
- Schedule tweets or status updates.
- Shoot and edit videos.
- Respond to blog comments.
- Monitor brand alerts or mentions.
5. They outsource what they're not good at.
Some of the most notable online personalities seem to be talented at everything. Some of them truly are. On average, they're just clever.
They hire other talented people to help them grow their brand.
It saves time to outsource some features of your personal brand, as I discussed in the point above. But there is another aspect of outsourcing that is just as important -- tasks that you're not good at.
If writing is difficult for you, hire a ghostwriter. If creating a personal website isn't in your skillset, get some help. If you don't know how to use Photoshop, look for a designer.
Building a personal brand is a massive task. It can involve a variety of skills that you simply don't have.
Find someone who's better and ask for their help.
6. They share their story or their skills.
Why is it that so many emerging stars write books?
Justin Bieber was 18 when he authored his autobiography; Tim Tebow wrote his at 24; Malala Yousafzai was 16 when she shared her story in I Am Malala.
The reason is that they have a story to tell. People are interested in their story. In other cases, the person is recognized for a particular skill, and people are interested in learning about that skill.
As your reputation grows, you can coax it along by sharing this information with others. You may choose to write a book, for one. It doesn't need to be a book though. You may release your information in blog form, in a downloadable guide, on YouTube, or even through Periscope.
Realize that once you are known for something, people want to know more. You can leverage this interest by satisfying it through replicable, valuable content.
You don't need to be a celebrity in order to use these celebrity tactics. In fact, I would encourage anyone who's seeking to carve out their professional niche to implement each of these as soon as possible.
Those who consistently develop their online reputation today are the ones who will benefit from it tomorrow.
What are your preferred personal branding tactics?