Get innovative advice on branding your business online and developing a personal brand through internet marketing.
By Jay Berkowitz
The building of my personal brand was inspired by syndicated columnist Jeff Zbar who spoke at an American Marketing Association event. Jeff said “If you are your own personal brand manager, what have you done to put a shine on your brand? What new product enhancements have you made that are reflected on your resume? What is the marketing plan for your brand?
Tom Peters was recognized as the first person to promote the concept of personal brand in an article in Fast Company titled ‘The Brand Called You.’
Brilliant Social media Blogger Rohit Bhargava published a blog entry on November 8, 2007 called ‘How to Build Your Personal Brand.’ He explained the opportunity for building your personal brand using internet based tools and online business networking sites:
“Just as the Internet once created a level playing field for small companies to compete with larger ones, personal branding has now become much simpler thanks to the Internet. You can create your brand online …For the vast majority of corporate workers … building a personal brand is the single best thing they can do for their careers.”
For the first 20 years of my career I spent a lot of time and effort branding businesses online for companies. I worked for such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Sprint and eDiets.com. Jeff Zbar’s comments inspired me to enhance my personal brand.
I wrote a presentation called the Ten Golden Rules of Internet marketing and created thewww.TenGoldeRules.com website to support my personal brand attribute of marketing and internet experience. After I shared the presentation at a meeting of the Direct Marketing Association, several attendees asked me for consulting help and the internet marketing agency Ten Golden Rules was born.
Here are my Ten Golden Rules advice on building your personal brand:
- Be Your Own Brand Manager – What can you do to improve, package and market your skills for future opportunities in your present company, or for future career goals? My friend Andrea Nirenberg, author of Nonstop Networking said in a recent interview on the 10 Golden Rules podcast “If you were in the grocery store of life, why would somebody pick you up off the shelf? Are you new and improved, repackaged, what are you doing to get the competitive edge?” Is there a course you can take to achieve a new accreditation? How can you use self-study books and learning online through blogs and podcasts? What is your plan to branding your business online? How are you going to take it to the next level? Set specific, measurable goals for yourself. For example: ‘I will revise my resume and online postings by February’ or ‘I will launch a personal blog by the end of the month’.
- Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition – USP – What can help to make you stand out from your current competition? How can you enhance your skill set to distance yourself from other competitors for future business and career opportunities? “The Ten Golden Rules of Internet Marketing” which shaped my personal brand as an internet marketing ‘guru’ and branding my business online, which has opened fun and exciting doors for me and our company.
- Embrace Your Inner Author – Perhaps the most powerful new tool available for building your personal brand is authoring unique content. And it has never been easier to get published! You could create your very own blog on Blogger.com in less than 15 minutes and get writing! Create a white paper on your industry and send it to your clients, add a free eBook to your website. You can write articles and submit them to industry publications and websites such as eZineArticles.com. Develop a profile page on Facebook and LinkedIn and send ‘friend’ requests to all of your business associates. If you have perpetual writers block, try Podcasting. Read our Ten Golden Rules for Launching and Promoting a New Podcast if you’d like to learn more about this powerful way of internet branding.
- Build Your Net – One tremendous tool to help build and promote your personal brand is to learn how to Network. Make your way to high level networking events. Before you arrive, set a goal to make a few quality connections at the event – don’t be a business card glad hander. Find out what you can do for the people you meet. Great business networking is about helping others and building lasting connections, and you don’t have to contain your networking to just events. There are plenty of opportunities for building your personal brand online. Also, follow up separates great networkers from beginners. When you get home, add your new contacts to Outlook, Facebook and LinkedIn. Help these people connect with business opportunities, employment leads and personal resources. Individuals with a strong network of real connections don’t have to interview for future jobs, they get business opportunities and they have a ‘safety net’ if a real need arises.
- Craft an Image. Think of rock star Bono from U2- I’m sure you can picture him in the spotlight in signature cool sunglasses. What is Donald Trump wearing in your minds eye – a sharp blue suit and a bright tie. What can you do to stand out? Develop your personal image to represents the next stage in your career. Do you want to be a creative director or a keynote speaker? How can you represent your authentic personal brand?
- Communicate a Strong Consistent Brand Message – If you have a typical company business card, it may be beneficial for you to create a personal brand card. Come up with a memorable title or slogan representing your personal brand message such as ‘Innovative Internet Copywriter’ or ‘Superstar Sales Closer’. If your business allows it, add your slogan and a link to your personal brand blog or website to your email signature and send out press releases for major personal events such as speaking events and the launch of a new website.
- Volunteer to Shine – In the past I have selected volunteer positions within fund-raising organizations to hone my skills or to develop new personal assets. In a new volunteer role, I generally choose a role that I know well, something in an area of experience. Six or twelve months later, I will select a role that offers me the opportunity to learn in a new area. The first time I managed a PR campaign it was for a volunteer board and the first time I managed a large group it was as a charity committee chairperson. Another great way to enhance your personal skills is by taking on freelance work. Web sites such as Guru and e-Lance offer you an opportunity to promote personal skills that might not be part of your present job but will be on your future resume!
- Innovate to Lead. Most new web sites and online business technologies are free or they provide a free trial. Take the new tools and technologies out for a test drive and position yourself as an early adopter. Report on the stuff that works on your blog and soon people will be asking you about the next big thing!
- Entrepreneur. Start to think of ‘to entrepreneur’ as a verb and a skill that is easy to learn. I wish I started entrepreneuring earlier in my career, and today it is easier than ever. As an employer, I am looking to hire people who have developed their own blog or website and there are almost no barriers to getting started generating some revenue online. It is easy to start selling other company’s products as an affiliate, just visit Commission Junction (www.cj.com) or LinkShare (www.Linkshare.com) and sign up as an affiliate, add banners or links to your blog or website and you’re entrepreneuring.
Speak Up! The single biggest boost to my career has been public speaking. Like most of us, I wasn’t always comfortable doing an internet marketing presentation, early in my career I attended weekly Toastmasters meetings, and I read everything I could find about how to make great business presentations. I also volunteered for speaking opportunities for the holiday party committee at work and I spoke on behalf of the charity committee that I was involved with. Practice makes Perfect! With a little experience you can feel confident in front of a roomful of CEO’s.