Nov 30, 2010

How to Build a Personal Brand Online

No matter what your business, creating a personal brand will help you stand out from the crowd and win the attention of potential customers and clients. It’s an especially effective way to get noticed online. But building a personal brand requires more than just slapping up a Web site and creating a unique value proposition; though you need to generate a strong online presence that reaches people. To build and optimize Brand You, follow these five steps.
1. Calculate Your GQ (Google Quotient)
According to a recent report by Pew Internet, more than half of all Internet users have used a search engine to find information about another person. It’s often the first thing people do when researching a person or a company, so it’s a great place to start to determine the current strength of your personal brand. Do you know what these search engine results are saying about you? Start by doing a simple vanity search by typing your name into a search engine and see what comes up. If you appear on the first page of search results, great. If it takes some digging to find your name, you have a lot of work to do. A great tool to help you calculate your GQ is the Online Identity Calculator. It walks you through the process of determining your personal brand strength by generating a score based on your answers.
2. Buy a Domain
If you want to create a strong online presence, you need to buy and operate from a domain that matches your name as closely as possible. In addition to maximizing your presence in search engine results, you’ll also appear more professional and reinforce your brand every time someone visits your site or receives an e-mail from you.
3. Take Advantage of Online Social Networks
When it comes to your personal brand, the name of the game is “visibility.” A third of people have searched for someone’s profile on a social or professional networking site, according to Pew Internet. Increase your visibility online by joining Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is especially helpful because its profiles often rank high in search engine results. Also, offer your expertise on relevant online forums and discussion boards with a link to your Web site. And always include your brand statement.
4. Start a Blog or Vlog
One of the best ways to reinforce your personal brand is through a personal blog. A blog allows you to demonstrate your expertise and connect with people on a personal level, which is one of the best ways to reinforce your personal brand. Take it a step further by trying out vlogging (a video blog). Video blogs are a great tool for getting your message across and allow people to identify with you even more. According to research firm Hitwise, the most viewed video/multimedia Web sites are YouTube, Google Video, MySpaceTV, Apple iPod and iTunes, Hulu, Yahoo, Windows Media, IMEEM, and MetaCafe. Pick one or two of the top video sites to focus your efforts on and watch your message virally spread.
5. Submit Articles
Another great way to expose your personal brand in search engine results is to submit articles to online article directories such as EzineArticles.com, Buzzle.com, and ArticlesBase.com. It’s a free and relatively easy way to promote your expertise and reinforce your promise that you are the go-to person for information in your profession. With each article that you write and submit, it's imperative that you always include your brand statement and a link back to your Web site.

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