How to build your personal brand online

Utilising your expertise and experience in your online presence can make you an authority in your field, help you grow within your career and expose you to new opportunites. By Claire Mason 

For many 50-something employees, decades in your chosen career has contributed to a deep knowledge and understanding of your area of expertise, and a desire to continue to grow within your role. Embarking on further training can be a worthwhile way to achieve this outcome; so too can using social media to share your story and build your personal brand.

Positioning yourself as a voice of authority within your field pays many dividends. First, it highlights your significance within your industry. Second, the speed of social media allows you to participate in relevant conversations as they happen, highlighting your up-to-date knowledge of your field.

Third, building your brand online ensures your name and reputation is identifiable to decision makers and headhunters as new opportunities become available.

Finally, creating an online brand through which you share your expertise and opinion enables more junior workers in your profession to grow their knowledge base. In other words, it’s also a simple way to give back.

Creating your brand digitally doesn’t have to be arduous, but a bit of planning beforehand will ensure you’re putting your effort to best use.

Social media: you don’t need to be everywhere

Social media has become ubiquitous. This is not necessarily negative, though it’s also not useful when looking for opportunities to enhance your professional status. You don’t need to be on every social media platform, only the ones who speak to a like-minded audience.

Know where your profession is online

Pay attention to where your professional community is gathering. LinkedIn is the behemoth social media platform when it comes to business, but engaging with blogs in your field shouldn’t be overlooked either. Likewise, make sure the platform suits your profession. Pinterest is a great showcase for graphic designers; not so much for medical technologists.

Commit to your chosen platforms

While you don’t need to create a profile on every social platform, when you do, you must commit to it. Building your brand online means you need to be active.

Find your own rhythm, and stick to it. Once a day, once a week, once every two weeks; whatever you decide is fine, but you have to maintain the rhythm if you’re going to build your audience. Not being consistent will prevent you from being seen as an active and engaged voice in your industry, and will say things about your personal brand that are not complimentary.

Be opinionated

Being bland and regurgitating existing opinions and facts is not going to position you as an expert. Building your brand means that you have attributes that make you identifiable to your followers and colleagues.

Creating a unique voice in your industry by developing a point of view is the fastest way to make your personal brand stand out as something unique. Having a purpose in what you say will mean people can recognise the value in following you.

Spot creative opportunities

Spending time surveying the online landscape for chances to build your brand will show up opportunities that exist. A world of digital engagement exists between a quickly thrown-together LinkedIn profile and setting up a blog that requires a considerable time and research investment.

It might be that creating a podcast is the best way to get traction in your industry, or that contributing to a white paper will showcase your expertise better than a response to a tweet. Getting creative about how you disseminate the value you provide will do a lot of PR for your brand.

Build connections

You most likely already know the key drivers in your industry; you may be one yourself. Your online brand, however, is not an island and the strength or weakness of it will depend on the connections you make.

Connect with people who you genuinely respect as having something worthwhile to say. Totting up followers for the sake of volume is not the purpose here. Get the quality right, though, and the quantity inevitably follows.

Get a unique domain

Up until this year, the domain space has been dominated by .com, .org and .net. Since the beginning of 2014 more than 1,000 new domain extensions have come on the market and a number of them cover professional identities. It is now possible for you to identify yourself as a .lawyer, .attorney or .dentist, and so on.

There are also creative extensions that can be used to build your personal brand such as .ninja, .guru and .reviews. Instead of being one of many tax consultants, you can now create your own website as www.tax.ninja – and lead the pack!

 Be yourself and use your own voice

Building your personal brand online provides you with the chance to tell your story (think of Richard Branson), highlight what you stand for professionally, and engage in social media in an ever evolving way.

It’s key to remember when positioning yourself as a brand that people respond to authenticity over the digital waves as much as they do in real life. Stay true to who you are, speak in a tone of voice familiar to yourself and focus on matters important to you.

Your brand will then become an extension of yourself, and feel effortless, rather than a marketing project to manage.

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