Posted by Todd Smith
In What’s Your Brand? I pointed out that just as products carry a brand, people also carry a brand. Branding is how the world sees you; the impression you make on others; the values you stand for; the qualities that mold your personality; and the characteristics that make you stand out from the crowd.
This lesson will focus on a significant component of your overall brand—your online presence. In today’s world, you can be assured that every potential employer, prospective client and college admissions officer will search the Internet to learn as much as they can about you. It’s even likely that someone would check you out before asking you for a date. You can be assured that what they find will influence their opinion of you and what they learn can either close doors or open up opportunities.
Let’s look at 10 things you can do to enhance your online brand:
1. Create a Personal Website—You can control what people find when searching your name or you can leave it up to the search engines. If you don’t currently have a website, then I would suggest creating a simple one page website. I made the decision in 1999 to take control of my online brand when I set up my one page website at toddsmith.net. You can buy your domain name for $7.49 and use a free template to create your own website or blog.
2. Join Facebook—More than 500 million people are now on Facebook. It offers more opportunities for networking and building relationships than any other website. If you want to promote a business, blog or non-profit organization, you can also create a Fan Page in addition to your individual profile. Facebook is a powerful way to connect with people and enhance your online brand if you use it wisely.
3. Create a LinkedIn Profile—More than 55 million professionals use LinkedIn to make connections and exchange information, ideas and opportunities. If you are a professional and you don’t have an account with LinkedIn, you will certainly run the risk of appearing to be out of touch. If you are unfamiliar with LinkedIn, take a look at my LinkedIn profile for an example.
4. Consider Twitter—Depending on your line of work, you may want to consider getting an account with Twitter. To determine if it makes sense for you, look at what your competitors are doing.
5. Get an Avatar— Your Avatar is a photo of you that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. You can see an example if you look at any of my comments posted below my blog posts.
6. Complete Your Profiles—When you set up an account with any social media or professional networking site, take the extra time to complete your profile. Having an incomplete profile will likely make a negative impression. Even worse, you are missing an opportunity to market yourself.
7. Select Good Photos—Every photo you post on a website, including your Facebook profile picture, is how the world will see you. Many websites are using the Facebook login and will automatically pull your Facebook profile picture to identify you. Make sure all photos accurately depict how you want to brand yourself. Unless you want to be seen as someone who “parties” all the time, get rid of all the photos that present you that in that fashion.
8. Think Before You Write—We generally don’t need to be reminded to think before we speak but far too often I find that people don’t think before they write. Be conscious of the words you use when you post or make a comment on websites, blogs or forums. Avoid using inappropriate language or acronyms. And since every item of information on the Internet is archived or cached, any item you post has the potential to be seen by others.
9. Groups and Fan Pages—Keep in mind that the groups you join or become a Fan of on social media sites tell the world what’s important to you. Even if I am not connected with someone on Facebook, I still have the ability to see which groups they follow. Make sure the groups you’ve selected are consistent with the brand you want to build for yourself.
10. Google Yourself—As you create your personal brand on a variety of sites, networks and other platforms, your name will begin to pop up on search engines and social networks. Google yourself and determine if the chatter is positive or negative. Consider setting up a Google alert for your name that can help you monitor your brand.
I suggest that you review this list one more time and make notes beside the things you can do to improve your online brand. And, if you are going to have a presence on any website site, make sure it is consistent with how you want the world to view you. Demonstrate pride in who you are and how you are portrayed.
I invite you to share any thoughts, ideas or insights below this post on Little Things Matter.
Your personal and professional success will be greatly influenced by the impression you make on others, both offline and online.
Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.
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