Last week, we took a look at blogging to improve your personal brand. This week we’re going to look at an aspect of personal branding that still kind of new-ish and can help inform people as to who you are and what you do. What is this thing of which I speak? It’s social networks.
There are several social networks out there that can help you build your personal brand and bring you more networking opportunities. The networks I’m specifically going to focus on are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
When it comes to social networks, there are several spread out across the internet to help you become social in some way. There are music social networks (Last.FM), there are movie social networks (Flixster), and there are ones for just general networking (Facebook). The social network LinkedIn, is being marketed as “the social network for professionals.” On LinkedIn, you can put up a pseudo-resume, give a little background information on your past jobs, and even talk about your interests as they relate to your career. You can also connect to your co-workers both previous and current. LinkedIn also offers a forum called Answers in which you can answer other peoples questions. Answering questions can earn you points, and is a nice way to become known for something. Think of this as an extension of your blog. You can also use the questions as jumping points for your blog.
Some things you want to do to your profile page. You want to be concise but you want to give people a good understanding of your past work. This is similar to a resume so make sure it shines. You’ll want to put up a photo (try to keep it as professional as possible). You will also want to connect to as many people that you know as possible this will in turn bring others to you. Finally shoot for 100% profile completeness, this will help give a nice overall view of yourself to those on the service.
How does this build your personal brand? Well, this is a site for professionals to connect. and find each other. If you make sure to list your skill sets accordingly people can find you when they need someone that does what you do. It is also a place to brag about your accomplishments. Have an MVP, a certification, or something else? Make sure you say that on your LinkedIn profile. Also, should you get laid off during this current economic crisis, you have a network of people you can ask to keep their eyes and ears open.
Ahh Facebook, the “professional” Myspace. Well maybe not really, but it does look more uniformed and is easier to look at than MySpace. Facebook can arguably be interchanged with LinkedIn depending on where most of your network already connects. If it’s on Facebook than you’re halfway there. If it’s not, then Facebook is a good place to show the more personal side of yourself. Facebook does allow you to have the best of both worlds in that you can create a really nice profile with little fluff and connect to your (former) co-workers.
When you fill out the information to show on your profile, you’ll want to be concise but also somewhat through. This is because not just employers are going to be looking at this profile. Chances are high that this profile will easily show up in a Google search for your name. Fill in as much information as possible. Avoid overly personal details but you can put things like phone numbers, relationship status, and some photos up. Keep the photos neat and clean if you want to maintain the more professional profile.
Facebook gives a lot of options when it comes to securing your profile. Make sure that if you do plan on putting stuff up that is professionally questionable that you lock your profile down so that anyone searching can not get into the “meat” of your profile and will only see a small portion.
The most misunderstood application on the social bandwagon. Twitter is alike a giant chat room where you can tell people what you’re doing, ask for help, offer help, tell people about a cool website/project, and just catch up. As you become more known for something, people will tend to follow you because they think you’ll talk about that so keep things like that in mind as you begin to twitter. Twitter is more conversational than blogging, and more interactive than Facebook or LinkedIn. It requires that you participate. You have to both listen and speak. If you don’t speak, no one ever hears you. If you don’t listen then no one speaks to you.
When using Twitter for the sake of personal branding you’ll want to make sure your tweets focus on whatever it is you are attempting to brand yourself for. This means keeping the personal tweets (what you’re eating, where you are at, what you’re doing) to a minimum. This also means “re-tweeting” other posts that have to do with the area you’re trying to brand yourself with. Once again, I’m a bad example of this, but even I still get questions from friends about how to do things on occasion.
Personal branding is one part focus and several parts putting yourself out there for the world to find you. You can be well known and respected in your field but if people can’t find you, there is very little point. Putting yourself out there apart from your blog makes it easier to directly communicate with those you know and those you will meet.
Next week, we’re going to take a look at public events as a way to help build your personal brand.