In fact, watch this space for a soon to be released Ebook on the subject!
While the phrase “Online Personal Branding” can seem a bit abstract, it’s well known that people remember certain mathematical concepts and abstract ideas better when they are presented through simulations and/or storytelling.
So gather around children, for a very personal story about online personal branding.
I left a 20 year career in television a few years back and transitioned into this brave new world of social media and social media marketing.
My grandfather was in Radio and TV – in fact, if he hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here today. He moved his young family from Baltimore, Maryland to the tiny town of Moncton, N.B. to help kick start the industry there. And that’s where my mom met my dad, and the rest is history.
But I digress.
I’ve never been one to take the traditional route to anywhere, and my career was no different. Genetic influences notwithstanding, I sort of ‘fell into’ television at a very young age.
The problem was, I didn’t know what I was best at, what intrigued and excited me, or where I wanted to end up eventually. Consequently I bounced around at the CBC for a number of years, dipping my toe into casting movies and Children’s TV before finally finding my niche as a producer.
No clear map to the future, a bit of a la-di-da attitude, and ‘just winging it’ is a long, straight road to wasted time, inefficiencies and a confused outward facing identity for any brand.
Proactive Not Reactive
Fast forward 20 years, and my career was chugging along tickety boo. I had built up years of seniority, five weeks of holidays and many valuable contacts. But I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was miserable.
Stagnation set in, along with frustration, and a distinct – and personally very unsettling – lack of motivation. Hindsight being what it is, I realize now that I had no clear “personal brand” when I was working in TV.
And that left me struggling, unproductive and quite lost. I was letting life just happen around me – to me – instead of being proactive and creating my own future and success.
Your brand has been around awhile and you are comfortable resting on your laurels. But times have changed.
You are now facing more competition than ever before. The online world is crowded and noisy and you are not standing out. There is no growth. Sales are down. Web site hits are non-existent. People really aren’t that into you any longer – and you’re definitely not that into them!
A Personal Brand Needs A Strategy
So, I left a relatively stable job (as much as any job is stable) and took a great leap into the unknown.
I knew that I wanted to focus on writing, editorial and content and I set about determining and creating my own personal brand. I finally had focus – and I didn’t lack for personality – but there were many hurdles to overcome.
People didn’t know me from Adam. I needed to convince people that years of writing and editing, as well as creating audience responsive content were valuable transferable skills.
And I needed to overcome some biases about the CBC, which carries a general (unfounded) reputation of employing clock watching, less than productive staffers.
Brands, just like people, are living breathing things – and they need a strategy.
La-di-da does not cut it in the online marketing space. They need to know what direction they are heading, what they actually do that is unique or provides value for clients or customers, and where they want to be in the next five or ten years.
They also need to create a distinct outward facing personality that is open and honest, and isn’t afraid to speak to the negative as well as the positive
Aim For Honesty And Build Trust
Long story short, I dedicated time each day to listening and engaging with people online. I was the brand, and I made sure people got to know the real me in a very human way.
I broke down who I was and who I wasn’t, and set about ‘living’ that each and every day.
I began blogging and sharing my thoughts and ideas with my friends on Twitter. They (eventually) began to share my blog posts with their communities. And that built trust.
Slowly but surely my community began to grow. Business connections were made. Friendships were cultivated. I met friends of friends. I was careful to manage my online reputation – if a mistake was made, apologies were duly issued but the momentum didn’t stop.
Determine who you are and why you’re special. Dedicate time to listen and engage. Be real and honest. Build trust. Share yourself with your customers and the wider community. Own up to errors and mistakes. And be a human being online.
In the long run, I cultivated and grew a healthy online community – but not just a bunch of followers and follows. This community is full of people who have broadened my world; influenced, supported and educated me; and would have my back in a heartbeat.
All of my hard work paid off and my online personal branding strategy ended with success – heck, I’m now working for Jugnoo!
Hopefully those of you new to the social space, who might be a tad overwhelmed by the hows and whys behind building a strong online personal brand, will remember my story, and find the concept a little less daunting. Body or brand – the key steps remain the same.
Thoughts? Comments? Share them below!
- Do your words reflect your personal brand? (christopherspenn.com)
- Why Personal Branding Is So Misunderstood (rohitbhargava.com)
- Mastering The Uncomfortable Art Of Personal Branding (fastcompany.com)