7 Tips to Help You Build a Strong Personal Brand Online

While your company's branding is vital to success, building your personal brand online can help you attract additional exposure, open doors to new opportunities and help you connect with your target audience on a more personal level.

Most consumers would rather do business with a familiar face, not a faceless corporation, so use the following seven tips to help strengthen your personal brand online.

1. Understand you are an extension of your business.

You need to first understand the purpose of building a strong personal brand online. Think of it as another marketing channel, just a more personable one. You are going to essentially be an extension of your business with the same goal: to stir up interest for whatever product or service you are selling and attract visitors to your website, converting them into form submits, phone calls or sales. The end goal is the same; you will just be using a likeable and informative personal brand rather than your company's brand to accomplish it.

2. Be active on social media networks that make sense.

Social media is a thriving environment to build and promote your personal brand, but that doesn't mean you need to be active on every network. Instead, focus on a few that present you with an opportunity to be in front of your target audience. For example, being active on Pinterest would provide little to no opportunity for me, so there is no need for me to be active there.

3. Start a personal blog.

A personal blog is a great way to jump head first into content marketing. It gives you a platform to develop and fine-tune your writing style, which you can then leverage to secure guest blogging opportunities. Everyone has to start somewhere, and a personal blog is a great way to improve your writing skills on a regular basis while also using it to target long-tail keywords and search terms to introduce organic website visitors to your brand.

4. Let your true personality shine.

The biggest mistake you can make is developing your personal brand into robot. Don't be afraid to let your true personality shine. Consumers aren't stupid -- they can easily distinguish between an authentic personal brand and one that sounds like a nonstop advertisement. If you try to reinvent your personality it's going to come across as fabricated and that will turn people off, rather that pull them in to learn more. Be yourself and let your audience experience the real you.

5. Share useful content that your audience will want to engage with.

Don't just share your own content on social media. When you come across something that you feel your audience will enjoy and pull value from, share it. You don't want to be overly promotional, so mix in content from relevant websites and media outlets. This helps to develop your personal brand into a value source of information, not just a self-promotional vehicle. You will experience a much more engaged audience if you don't come across as your company's pitchman 100 percent of the time.

6. Contribute to relevant websites and media outlets.

Guest blogging is excellent for personal brand building. There are going to be relevant opportunities in almost every industry, so begin to identify possible opportunities and read their content on a regular basis. Learn what topics they tend to publish and what style of writing they prefer. This is also a good time to start making connections with editors and website owners, while also introducing them to your content. As mentioned in point number three above, a personal blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and writing ability.

7. Expand your social reach with paid promotion.

If you publish an amazing piece of content then utilize paid social media promotion to introduce it to a much larger audience. This is a great way to build your personal brand, and while there are many effective free ways, paid social promotion allows you to instantly introduce highly targeted individuals to your brand. If you are promoting a very informative piece of content it will result in new followers, who will then engage and share your future content, helping to further expand your reach.

Connect with me on social media if you have any questions -- Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I'm always looking to connect with fellow entrepreneurs.

Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO coaching and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC.co (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter.