10 Ways to Make Your Personal Brand Discoverable, Sharable & Memorable
December 14, 2015
Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Mel Carson, Founder, CEO & Principal Strategy Consultant at Delightful Communications.
The explosion in use of digital and social media over the last few years has created a magnificent opportunity for professionals to establish themselves as experts and thought-leaders in their field like never before. As people learn to use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to make a better, more enduring impression within their niche, businesses are also waking up to the fact that if people are their best asset, they should encourage them to use digital channels in a positive way to be advocates for the brand.
When my company performs personal branding audits for our clients, here are ten things we encourage them to do in order to make that impression last and put their best digital foot forward:
Own your own name
One of the best and easiest ways to showcase your personal brand is through a website that you own and bears your name. While self-publishing platforms like LinkedIn and Medium are great for expanding your wisdom’s reach and discoverability, nothing beats registering your name as a domain and creating a website that leaves people in no doubt who you are, what you’re about and how to contact you.
My digital marketing keynote speaker site ranks number one for my name and I control the design, user experience and content. I use it as the hub for all my professional activity as a speaker, author and digital strategist. Better to have a digital anchor that you govern rather than relying solely on a 3rd party that could go out of fashion or favor at any time.
Invest in a professional photo
Getting a decent headshot that exudes your personal brand doesn’t cost the earth anymore. If you’re serious about the professional impression you make know that a picture really is worth a thousand words, so make sure you pick the right one. I’ve seen photos of people on LinkedIn that show them in bars drinking, smoking, cuddling furry animals, wearing skiing goggles, climbing rocks and other such distracting activities.
Research from Photofeeler.com indicates the requirements for the perfect profile picture including wearing professional attire, smiling, showing a bit of teeth, and squinching (which is halfway between wide-eyed and squinting apparently). Good quality cameras are super-cheap these days, so if $250 for a professional session sounds too much, ask a friend to snap 50 or so and pick the best one. It has to better than the cropped on of you on New Year’s Eve?!
Make your out of office work harder
How long do you spend crafting your out of office message when you’re travelling, in back-to-back meetings or at a conference? For many a scribbled sentence with the email address of some poor soul to divert people to is the best they can do.
How about making that message back to someone emailing you more engaging and actionable. Where are you while you’re away? Are you doing anything special – speaking at a conference? Picking up an award? Could people follow your antics via a link to your Twitter or Instagram account? Or is there an action you want people to take like signing up to a newsletter or connecting with you on LinkedIn.
Out of office messages are the perfect vehicle for your personal brand and an opportunity for you to take an extra 5 minutes go the extra mile and craft a message that is memorable.
Create a social media ratio
When we’re engaged for personal branding consultations, one of the most often asked questions is should people talk about personal stuff on their social channels and will it affect their personal brand? The answer is absolutely! You need to show you have a personality and that you have a human side else you risk coming across as a little boring and all about work, work, work. Some people wonder if they should have a personal and professional Twitter account and to this we say NO!
Decide on a social media ratio. How much of your personal life are you willing to share? Stick to a percentage to show a well-rounded personality and leave a more human impression.
The consumer research company Nielsen says while just 15% of people will believe what a brand has to say, 90% of people will trust what a friend, peer or family member will recommend. Don’t come across as corporate and inhuman or you run the risk of losing trust with your followers.
Be thoughtful about your bio on 3rd party sites
If you’ve managed to score some articles and speaking gigs on publications and at conferences pertaining to your industry, you may have been asked to provide a bio letting people know your story. These are often only a couple of hundred words, so make them count. Tell your story succinctly and add some links to the text to drive people to other sites and help with their SEO.
Label your photos with your name for SEO
If you are uploading photos of you to your site or sending them to 3rd party publisher, label the files with your name and company – mel-carson-delightful-communications.jpg - so they rank in image search for your name. This is such a simple tactic to enhance your personal brand as people searching for your name will instantly see what you look like as well. This method can also help drive photos you don’t want people to see further down search results if you’ve been unsuccessful in asking someone to take some dodgy ones down for you.
Add social channels & messages to your email signatures
Some people try and do this but fail to make the links work. It’s a really easy way to drive people to your social channels and update people on a regular basis as to what’s new with you and your company. Make a note to check your signature every couple of months to make sure it’s fresh and relevant.
Make your business cards stand out
Business cards are not dead and I love my Moo cards because the stand out. When I bought them my wife thought people would think they were stuck together because they are so thick, but they’re actually a conversation starter as people spend time feeling the quality and asking me where I got them.
When designing a business card that stands out, quality is important, as in the touch and the weight, but making sure the text is clean and not too cluttered is crucial to the call to action which is that someone will file it or look you up again to connect on LinkedIn or wherever.
When handing it out to someone, be purposeful and tie it to some kind of story that helps cement you in the receivers mind and make that interaction memorable in a useful and positive way.
Make LinkedIn a living profile
LinkedIn is no longer just a place to scour for new jobs or use as a glorified online resume, the company is serious about being a professional publishing platform and some of that seriousness should be rubbing off on you.
If you think of it as a professional Facebook, you can’t go too far wrong. Use it to publish articles, share posts and thoughts on events in your industry. Join some groups and follow some relevant, inspirational companies that will allow you to engage with and learn from like minds.
When someone searches for your name on Google and Bing, it’s likely your LinkedIn profile will come near the top of the results, so making sure your profile is fresh and you have some recent activity that will help your personal brand look professional, engaged and active in your niche; something that will help make you more memorable than others who also might be vying for attention from prospective employers or business contacts.
Be social by design
If you take a look back at the nine practical tips I’ve given you above, the combination of them all points you in the direction of being social by design. That means everything you do across social networks, through writing articles and blog posts, speaking at conferences and networking at real-life events needs to be social in some way that helps your personal brand be more discoverable, sharable and memorable. A simple thing like adding a Twitter handle to a presentation gives the audience the nod that you want them to follow you and share your knowledge to their fans as you speak. Adding a link to a presentation you have just given will drive people to SlideShare and the potential for more sharing of your wisdom beyond the people in the room.
Your personal brand is your responsibility. Never before has there been more of an opportunity to use technology, social media and common sense to tell your professional story, stand up and stand out in an increasingly crowded digital space.
It takes time though. Don’t expect overnight success, but be disciplined and patient as you craft your path to success in your chosen career.
For more tips on building your personal brand on LinkedIn, download our Executive Playbook today.