Last week we explored the beginning phase of how to build a credible personal brand that shines online. We explored how to create a personal brand vision, define your target audience, and establish your online presence. And since you’ve been patiently waiting with bated breath, we’ll jump right into Part 2, where we’ll look at ways to expand your audience, connect with influencers, gain press exposure and more.
Building Your Brand Through Outreach
Now that you’ve refined your brand vision and created an online destination to send your target audience, it’s time to go out in the world and get the attention of the people you want to reach. Far from shouting in a crowded room or resorting to skywriting, brand outreach requires specific, targeted strategies. The key to successful outreach is providing value to those that have established audiences in exchange for the opportunity to connect with their followers.
1) Developing relationships that lead to opportunities – Rather than expecting first time connections to lead to overnight business deals or jobs, focus on going out and building strong, long-term relationships that will last.
- Connect face-to-face at local events, including professional mixers, speaking engagements or anywhere others from your professional niche might gather for networking opportunities.
- Find people to engage with on social media and interact with them on topics you both care about. Explore Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or any other network relevant to your profession.
- Reach out to people in online groups and forums and join the discussion.
2) Gain exposure by guest blogging – Grow your core audience and expand your voice by posting high quality blogs on other relevant blogs.
- Track down websites that accept high quality guest posts, create a list of potential sites and find out the process for submission.
- Reach out to the person responsible for accepting submissions and clearly state why your contribution meets their criteria and is relevant. If you’re initially turned down, politely inquire specifically what you could change or write that might be more appropriate.
- Identify the most popular or top content on the site and write a high-value guest post that covers similar territory and is of equal or better caliber. Write thoroughly on the topic and provide actionable steps for the reader to take.
- Use SocialCrawlytics to identify popular posts and topics on specific sites, and use Ahrefs to explore which other sites link to the content on those sites to help develop content that will get similar backlinks.
3) Control your personal brand with online advertising – Online ads are a way for you to both protect and promote your personal brand.
- Secure ad spots on Google and other search engines using keyword phrases that match your name, as well as similar variations and misspellings and link the ads to your new website with a short description of what you offer.
- Create Facebook Ads that target your specific audience using a benefit-focused call-to-action in the text.
Gain Exposure Through Free Press Coverage
While gaining press exposure as an individual may seem challenging, there are ways to gain free press coverage that will help establish you as an authority in your industry and help you gain access to large audiences.
1) Sign up for official industry organizations – Find official organizations that represent the affairs within your industry and take the steps required to join. By associating yourself with recognized and reputable establishments will help gain you social proof that can help back up your future activities and accomplishments.
2) Read the top three bestselling books in your industry – Familiarizing yourself with the history of your industry and most relevant voices in your field will help when speaking to the press later on. You’ll want to know the material well enough to reference it later, which will give you greater credibility and higher expert status.
3) Offer a free one-hour seminar at a local college or university – Create a seminar that serves as a how-to for getting involved with your industry. This will help establish you as a credible authority as an expert for media interviews and other contributions, and demonstrate that you can effectively speak in public.
4) Write an article for a trade magazine – Using the credentials that you’ve established thus far, to help gain access to writing for an industry magazine. Find a popular industry topic and write a contrarian, well-argued and well-researched perspective from what most experts are offering now, which will help gain attention of their audience.
5) Use services like HARO and ProfNet to connect with journalists – These services can help you gain greater press coverage by establishing yourself as a reliable and credentialed expert in your industry.
6) Trade up the media chain – Once you’ve created a story or newsworthy activity that you’ve done, you can harness the power of the media chain to trade up to bigger and bigger publications.
- Begin by pitching stories to small blogs in your industry and find ones that are likely to publish your story.
- Reach out to local media and large network affiliates, and prove to them that you have a relevant story that has been considered worthy of publishing by other (smaller) publications.
- Then focus on getting big publications to write about you by showing them that you’ve gained coverage on the local level, particularly if you’ve been published by a local affiliate of a larger station.
Connect with Mentors to Strengthen Your Personal Brand
A mentor can help guide your professional and personal growth and help strengthen and grow your personal brand. Mentors can help provide vital perspective on your industry though their experience and help show you how your personal brand can lead you on a path to success.
1) How mentors can be critical for professional success
- A great listener – Good mentors understand that listening can be more important than talking, and they can help provide a sounding board for your successes and struggles alike.
- Insight through experience – Mentors can share stories that are full of wisdom and professional lessons applicable to your life and career.
- Help you stay focused – A mentor can help you develop your professional goals, help you map out how you plan to achieve those goals, and keep you on target for steady progress.
- Keep pushing you – Mentors can help push you to take the next step to further your career even when you feel the most discouraged.
- Offer perspective – Your mentor can help share their own experiences to provide perspective on your situation, but they’re not there to give you the answers: that’s for you to discover.
2) Where to look for excellent mentors – Finding the right mentor for you can take time and may be found in an unexpected place. Consider these possible areas for finding your mentor.
- Family and friends – Parents and close friends can serve as excellent mentors as someone who knows you well, whom you can trust to listen, and will challenge you to do you your best.
- Colleagues, bosses and extended network – Former bosses with whom you had a great relationship, or people you work with or have in the past can make great mentors. Those individuals might also be able to recommend someone they know that might serve as a great mentor.
- Local professional organizations – Search within your local business community and organizations for a potential mentor. Having a shared community and interests can be a great opportunity to connect.
- Industry organizations and trade associations – These groups often have established mentor programs or other opportunities for you to meet potential mentors.
- Social media – The connections that you have established through social media may lead to a mentorship with someone who has shown a willingness to engage and connects with your professional goals.
3) Approaching mentors – Once you’ve found a potential mentor or mentors, it’s important to reach out to them in an appropriate way. This can be a difficult proposition as you want to someone who is interested in helping you to develop your career and personal brand, which may not necessarily give them much in return. The key is presenting the mentorship to them in a way that is attractive and rewarding to them as well
- Research – Get to know as much as you can both professionally and personally about the person, which will establish a connection and show you’re seriously interested in working with them.
- Explain why you’re reaching out – Whether you have a referral from a mutual acquaintance or share a professional interest or connection, it’s important to have a clear reason for connecting.
- Share your intentions – You want to let them know early on that you’re looking for guidance or a listener to help grow your professional life and personal brand and how they can help.
- Share your goals – Inform them of you professional goals and what you want to work on, which will show them what you want to do and that you’re already working toward those goals.
- Create an ongoing schedule and process – Once they have agreed to help you, it’s important to establish regular meetings and check-in to discuss progress and goals. This will help motivate you and let them know what to expect in the long run.
- Consider what they can get out of the relationship – Recognize that it’s not just about you and ask early on what they hope to get out of the relationship. For some it may be learning insight from someone younger in the industry or that your success may correspond with theirs. This will help to ensure that the relationship is more fulfilling for both of you.
Monitoring Your Personal Brand
Now that you’ve started establishing your personal brand, begun introducing it to the world and found guidance for helping it grow, it’s important to take measures to monitor and control your brand. There are a variety of tools that you can use to keep a close eye on your brand and address issues that might effect how your brand is perceived should they arise.
1) Maintaining control over your name – Your name is one of the most prominent features of your brand and the one that people will first encounter if they are searching for information about you. You want to ensure that what they find is relevant, represents you well and accurately. You want to avoid embarrassing results, results involving other people with your name, or no results when people search for you online.
- Control your personal brand in searches – By creating a Google+ account and including links of your sites, blogs and social accounts, you can help build up your search results. Using rich snippets is another way to help drive your branded content to the top of results.
- Separate your name from others – If you have a fairly common name there are likely others out there with the same name, and you’ll want to distinguish your name from the others. Consider using your middle name or one of your initials, or some other way to ensure that can easily find your name and not be confused by the others.
- Keeping your profiles and website updated – You want to maintain and update your website and social profiles regularly to ensure that they rank highly on search results. Guest blogging on popular sites is also a great way to boost your search ranking results.
2) Eliminating undesirable search listings – If searching for your name returns less than ideal results, either unflattering photos or outdated information that you no longer want to be associated with, there are a few ways to remove those listings and control what people see.
- Contact the site owner – Try reaching out directly either via email or social media to the content owner, whether it’s a blog or a friend’s posted photo, and politely request removal of the material.
- Delete irrelevant social profiles – If you signed up for social platforms or forums in the past, but no longer want to be associated with them, you can usually delete the profiles or contact the company to do so.
- Report negative content – If negative content about you violates a site’s code of conduct, you can contact them to request removal.
- Build more positive results to bury the negative – The more you focus on promoting the sites and profiles that you do want people to see, the less you are likely to see the negative results.
3) Using tools to help monitor your brand – It can be time consuming to constantly monitor your brand manually, so using a variety of online tools can help save you time and keep you on top of your activity.
- Google Alerts – You can set up alerts with your name, along with variations on your name, business, and other associated words, so that Google will notify you when they appear in search results.
- Radian6 – You can monitor mentions of your name and other associated keywords across blogs, social media and other sites with Radian6.
- Mention – This social monitoring tool is not only a great way to track mentions of your brand across the web, but also analyze the progress of your mentions over time.
- HootSuite – This social media management tool will not only monitor your brand name, but you can also manage all of your social efforts on one platform.
- Twitter Search – Use the search function of Twitter to keep tabs on your name, website, blogs, etc. to see when people have mentioned you or your content.
4) Handling negativity – As you continue to put your brand out in the world and share your voice and content, you’re very likely to come across negative feedback and comments at some point. The key is not to get caught up in trying to correct the person or lash out at them because it will only provide them more fuel and won’t change their mind. This can become a vicious cycle and never leads to good results. In most cases you’re better off ignoring negativity and focusing on your audience that really matters, not those that are simply out to attack others.
Make Your Personal Brand Unique
As you continue to build and grow your personal brand, it’s important to keep in mind what makes you shine as an individual and distinguishes you from the crowd. While veering from the status quo may seem daunting, people really respond to uniqueness and individuality when they look to a brand. Embracing your uniqueness will help you stand out from the competition, get people to pay attention to you and will make creating your personal brand a more enjoyable journey.
1) Write out your quirks, passions and history – Identify what makes you a unique individual and create a list. It could be something physical, a hobby or unique talent, or something special about your personal history.
2) Prioritize your unique list – Determine which aspects of your personality and history are most important to you and really set you apart from the crowd.
3) Incorporate your list into your personal brand – Find ways to blend your uniqueness with your branding efforts that help deepen your story, make you more memorable, and help your vision stand out from the others.
4) Get comfortable telling your story – Whether you’re writing a blog, speaking to a group or individual, or interviewing with the press, you want develop a script about who you are, what makes you unique and what your vision and goals are. You want to create a compelling narrative that is relatively short, succinct and entertaining.
Building a credible personal brand is obviously a very involved process and one that requires constant revisiting and development. Creating a brand that sets you apart from the crowd, connects you’re your personal goals and dreams and represents you honestly is the ultimate focus to work towards. Hopefully these tips will help you get started on the path to developing your own brand, and bring you closer to your professional and personal goals. What are steps that you’ve taken to build your personal brand?
“Personal Branding Secrets From Social Media Superstars” (Forbes)
“Build Your Personal Brand On Social Media Moment By Moment” (Entrepreneur)
“How To Get Free Press For Your Business” (Forbes)
“Finding A Mentor” (Inc.)
“Seek Out Mentors In Building Your Personal Brand” (Boston Globe)
“Seven Tools to Monitor and Promote Your Personal Brand” (MarketingProfs)