Why You Need a Ridiculously Awesome Personal Brand (and How to Build One) - Part 2.

By Irene McConnell (Kotov)

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build your personal brand

This post is part of a 3-part series which shows you how to build your personal brand.

Part 1 focused mainly on foundational personal branding assets and skills. This part focuses on advanced techniques which can be used to amplify your brand’s influence.

In the next and final part, I’ll show you how to tie them all together into a cohesive personal branding strategy which has a positive, lasting impact on your career.

 

10. Interviewing.

Not to be confused with job interview skills (covered in Part 1), interviewing is a technique which you can use to increase the visibility and influence of your personal brand online.

There are two main ways you can achieve this:

 

 

11. Guest Blogging.

This is one of my favourite techniques and it involves approaching influential bloggers with a proposal to provide them with articles, penned by you.

Getting your first few guest blogging gigs is the most challenging part because most bloggers will ask to see published examples of your writing before they agree to feature your ideas. 

If you haven’t yet published anything, you can find yourself in a frustrating chicken-and-egg situation. 

A good way out of the conundrum is to start by approaching your professional organisation. For example, if you’re a lawyer, your licensing body probably has a regional website with a blog. You'll find that these organisations are usually quite open to the idea of publishing guest posts by their members. 

Once you have a few published pieces under your belt you can start approaching more influential local and international industry blogs.

 

 

12. Media Mentions.

In the past, your only hope of ending up being mentioned by a major media publication rested with your ability to pay a handsome sum to a publicist (or become famous).

These days, the PR landscape is very different. Pitching yourself to large media organisations has become both very difficult and very easy. 

It’s easy because journalists can now easily be discovered and reached via social media (most hang out on Twitter and are connected via LinkedIn).

It’s difficult because most of them are already inundated with unsolicited, spammy pitches. You are one of thousands of people who are trying to get their attention today.

Your success depends on your ability to stop thinking about yourself and start catering to the needs of these journalists. Above all, they need new stories to tell.

Think of yourself not as a person who wants to have their name mentioned in the media. Rather, you’re an expert who is looking for an opportunity to provide a fresh expert angle on stories currently in the news. 

Let’s say, for example, that you’re a financial analyst. You’re browsing through the web pages of your favourite publication when you notice a story on Deutsche Bank’s massive, scandalous $2b fine.

You could tweet the reporter who wrote it (and reporters who write for this publication’s competitors), suggesting an angle for a follow-up story:

“Possible F/U Story on Deutsche: Did the bank do its shareholders a disservice by not working with regulators to resolve the probe quickly?”

And you might find yourself providing comment, like this banking analyst did here.

 

 

13. Exposure Campaigns.

You have written a great article, but your existing social media network is still tiny.

It means that very few eyeballs will see - and benefit from - your piece of content.

The good news is that you can now pay to have hundreds - even thousands - of interested people arrive at your article and read it.

Outbrain, Twitter, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon are some just some of the platforms which offer “paid discovery” services. You can use them to have your articles featured anywhere from major industry blogs to Forbes and even NY Times.

This is an advanced technique. It is for you if you’ve learned to write well, you know your audience and your content is already getting some traction.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can quickly become a very expensive money drain.

 

 

14. Active LinkedIn Networking.

So, you have a brand new LinkedIn profile. Now what?

Most people use it passively, i.e, using as a glossy brochure for their personal brand. 

However, you will get the most out of LinkedIn if you use it actively.

Join 2-3 LinkedIn Groups (resist the temptation to join more because you’ll spread yourself too thin to have any noticeable effect) which are directly or obliquely related to your personal brand. Participate in those groups regularly by providing commentary, answering questions and solving problems.

When deciding on which Groups to join, put on your marketer’s hat. If you’re a CFO, for example, your first instinct might be to join a LinkedIn group for senior accounting professionals.

While that’s a useful step, you can also consider joining a group for small business owners (who can benefit from your advice and eventually become consulting clients) and a leadership-focused group (where you can connect with other C-level and management professionals).

 

 

15. Active Twitter Networking.

Twitter is the evergreen cocktail party of the Internet. 

The biggest mistake professionals make here is this - they indiscriminately following a lot of people.

Very quickly, they find themselves drowning in the noise. Strands of conversation become background noise. Connections become a stream of unfamiliar, faceless humanity.

Your approach on Twitter begins the same way as it would on Twitter (or any social situation) - start with a small number of meaningful connections.

Pick 5 people who are aligned with what your personal brands stands for (or who can benefit from it). Add them to a list and engage with them. 

Slowly grow your list to 10, culling people who you realise you don’t like and adding new people who you find interesting. Focus on engagement, rather than building follower numbers.

 

 

16. Curated Publishing.

Paper.li and Scoop.it are two main services which enable you to publish your own online newspaper.

This technique is most effective when used in conjunction with active LinkedIn and Twitter networking because it allows you to easily amplify voices of other people in your network while building your own brand.

It's one of the handiest methods around for creating win-win situations.

The basic premise of curated publishing is this - you act not unlike a museum, delivering value by selecting pieces of content that you judge to be valuable to your audience. Just like a museum, the value your deliver is very closely tied to what you choose to reject.

The more narrow, refined, quality the focus of your publication is, the more valuable it is.

 

 

17. Blog Commenting.

This is one of the oldest (and, sadly, most abused) personal branding techniques. Today, it’s primarily used as a technique for screening (and being screened by) interesting people online. 

Think of it as an online equivalent of getting into a lively debate with another professional at a networking event (the quality of people’s arguments reveals a lot about who they are).

There are two areas where you can employ blog commenting to build your network:

Don’t use commenting as a cheap opportunity to promote yourself by sneaking links into your comments. That won’t achieve anything - apart from making you look like a spammer.

If you find yourself getting involved in a discussion with someone who you like, reach out to them, either by adding them to your LinkedIn network or following them on Twitter.

Your discussion befomes the perfect ice-breaker - e.g., “I noticed you shared your view on XYZ .. it seems that we think alike and could benefit each other one day - let's stay in touch.”

 

That's all for now, folks. In the next and final part of this series I will show you how to tie these elements and techniques into a cohesive personal branding strategy.

 

 

Irene McConnell runs Arielle Careers, Australia's #1 executive personal branding agency.

 

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