Celebrities, rockstars, athletes, leaders, politicians and all types of figure-heads have been building their brands to promote themselves and their expertise for years. Today we all have the opportunity to create killer personal brands for ourselves that will accelerate our success and bring exposure to our work. If you want to be known as a leader in your field, and have a voice of authority now is the time to get known.
But why do I need a personal brand?
Today’s business climate is too competitive not to create your brand. Simply removing your drunk Facebook pictures isn’t enough to land you that opportunity. Think your future employer, graduate school, or investor isn’t going to Google you? Think again. If your competition has an online image that screams “I’m a success in the making” the opportunity will go to them.
Not only can your online footprint give you that edge you need when someone comes looking for you, but effectively marketing yourself on the internet can actually bring huge opportunities to you. There are countless success stories of people who’ve been discovered on the internet and created viable businesses around their passion. It’s true: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, but better yet, it’s who knows you.
What do you mean internet success stories?
Try these on for size:
- Perez Hilton–liked writing about celebrities and now he is one himself. Famous for his opinions on the red carpet this blogger has both television and book deals while making millions off advertising on his website.
- Gary Vaynerchuk–started Wine Library TV and is now represented by CAA, the same talent agency that represents Tom Cruise and Oprah.
- Tim Ferriss–used his blog and social media contacts to generate enough buzz around his book The Four Hour Work Week to become a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Businessweek #1 Best Seller.
- Bill Simmons–branded himself online as the Boston Sports Guy and now is one of the most well read sports writers for ESPN.
But I don’t want to be famous, just well connected
Alright you dope, let’s get on with it then. You can meet almost anyone in the world online! Tweet with @RichardBranson @TonyRobbins @the_real_shaq or @Oprah. Not interested in them? What ever niche you are passionate about, you can meet people who could become potential business partners, clients, mentors, referrals, evangelists, or just friends. Whether you are seeking opportunity as an actuarial mathematician or gym teacher you can establish connections that will get you there.
Yes, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, blogging–you’ve heard it all, now it’s time to learn how to utilize this major opportunity. But first things first…
Let’s start at square one
Google yourself! See what comes up, see what needs to come down and act accordingly. Now, it’s time to control what comes up. This can easily start with some social media profiles on the aforementioned networks. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN all rank high with search engines, so make sure you customize your names and brand yourself, as your self. Grab @YourName, Facebook.com/YourName and Linkedin.com/in/YourName. If this isn’t available get a bit creative, but your personal brand is your name, so keep it close like mine @MattWilsonTV which goes along with my website http://MattWilson.tv
You can also check out Brand Yourself‘s web presence tools to give yourself a boost. These guys know that employers are often turned off if all they find when searching for you are your high school track and field times.
You really do need a website
It’s time to play up your strengths and don’t be bashful. Just as your resume says who you are, your website tells the same story. See a great student website here with our go-to web guy Kevin Mandeville or a WNBA Champion/Business Coach all-star site like Fran Harris’. Gather testimonials, put it with your awards and accolades and take some time to write a professional bio. Remember: this is a starting point for your rockstar online presence, in a few months, you’ll have plenty to add here.
Now that your presence is being felt around the internet, it’s time to decide what you like and what you’d like to be known for. Let’s talk quickly about something I’m passionate about: g-string underwear. Want to land a gig at Victoria’s Secret, or become a personal booty short shopper, product tester or designer? Time to start blogging about what you know. Go to the ends of the earth and start talking about your niche. Interview g-string aficionados, write about the up and coming trends, hit the fashion runways and write reviews–whatever you think your industry wants to hear about, dive in and develop your unique voice. Don’t worry if you are not a writer you can podcast or better yet become a g-string video blogger.
Now step up your social media game
Facebook isn’t just for looking at spring break pictures anymore people and tweeting really has nothing to do with what you had for lunch. These social media platforms are your way to meet thousands of like minded individuals to connect with, learn from and share your knowledge and expertise with. Let’s hop on search.twitter.com and give a listen to whats going on in your industry. My most recent g-string twitter search led me to some nice folks quoting Kanye West, “she got an ass that can swallow up a g-string”. Look for the trends here and when you are feeling brave start to voice your opinions and join the conversation. Maybe a blog post on the influence of Sisqo’s Thong Song on the industry? Maybe you find some links and interesting reads? Follow what’s going on out there and you’ll soon find a niche to be exploited. It takes long hours and a lot of sweat equity to build a personal brand, but if what you are saying is interesting and you are putting yourself out there, the followers will come. Your statuses on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN can easily serve as your biggest drivers of traffic to your blog. Update your statuses with your latest work and get feedback from your social media friends.
Think you have something that will spread like wildfire? Test your luck with social bookmarking platforms like Digg, Del.icio.us or StumbleUpon. These systems are widely known to take down servers if your post get’s hot–we are talking thousands upon thousands of hits to your site and huge exposure for your work. Writing to go viral on these sites takes practice, so start studying how these posts are crafted, the language used and the topics that are the most dugg or stumbled.
So now that I have a blog I’m a rockstar?
Nope, not so much. It’s time to leverage that online presence to create big time opportunities. Yes, you’ll want to create an online presence that is widely known, but you need to develop a strategy to convert that to offline credibility. You need to look at every cocktail hour, every meet-up, every invitation you get to meet someone as opportunity. Get to those conferences and industry events and let your online presence mirror your go-getting spirit offline. Online connections are only so deep–it’s meeting people in person that will create lasting relationships. The more people who know you, the greater the chance of that big break coming your way, but you are going to have to hustle.
If your reach is wide enough your network will ask you for quotes for their books, to be on their radio shows, guest posts, write articles about you, give you testimonials, and tell their friends about your brand–this is sounding a bit more like rockstar status isn’t it? Hustle comes down to seeking out every opportunity that puts itself in front of you as well as seeking out your own path. Want to be on TV or in print media? Now you have a presence to point to when you make your pitch. When producers and editors Google you, they are sure to find a budding rockstar, someone with a core group of followers, who has a voice in the industry and who is highly passionate about the subject at hand.
Author Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO, challenging people to defy the 9-5, stop doing stuff you hate and get innovative. Wilson graduated from Bryant University with a clear goal of starting his own business and while there, led Bryant University to becoming the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization of the Year and became National Student Leader of the Year.