For small businesses and entrepreneurs you rely highly on your reputation and word-of-mouth to get your business established and well known in your industry. It has been said that word-of-mouth referrals are in-fact a huge factor for small businesses, and reputation searches are becoming more and more important – it is therefore vital that your reputation is up-held to the highest integrity in order to be successful, and this can be done through the power of personal branding.
According to Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Expert “Personal Branding is the process by which you identify what makes you special, and then communicate that to the world. Your brand is a celebration of who you are, what unique promise of value you can deliver to your employer or clients, and your personality”.
In 2011 Cone Research found that 4 out of 5 consumers have changed their minds about purchasing a recommended product or service based solely on negative information they found online – it is therefore vital that small businesses and business owners in general know what appears about their brand in Google results. If your Google results aren’t what you want to be known for then personal branding is a great way to make sure that the first page of Google reflects the personal brand you want to portray.
Personal branding can seem like a daunting task but if you follow these 6 simple tips you will be well on the way to creating a personal brand and reputation that will have potential customers and business leads eating out of the palm of your hand in no time.
Tip 1: Google yourself
Make sure you know what appears in your Google results, after all they are going to be what people will base their first impressions on. If your Google results aren’t what you want to be known for then change it. The best way to do this is to push down the articles that you don’t want to be associated with.
Profiled.com is a great site which holds all your professional information including; your bio, social networks, blog and company/personal websites (if you have one). Once signed up your site is immediately promoted to Google, making you the first point of call when someone searches for your name. Signing up to social networking sites is also a great way to make sure the first page of Google is dominated by you.
Tip 2: Create engaging content
Writing a blog is a great way to build name recognition and establish yourself as an expert in your industry. However make sure you are blogging about topics that are timely and relevant to your industry and show your audience that you know your stuff – blogging about what you just had for tea isn’t going to impress the people that matter.
This is also the same principle for sites like Twitter and Facebook – in order to impress influential people in your industry and to boost your online profile you need to post things that are relevant and engaging to your audience.
Tip 3: Have a professional headshot and catchy tag-line
First impressions are key, and your profile picture is going to be used to put a face to a name so make sure it reflects your personal brand. Make sure your picture is professional and is consistent across all your social media platforms – this is a great way to encourage brand consistency.
Your tag line is also very important – condense who you are, what you do and what you want to be known for into a short and snappy tag-line and promote this consistently on all your sites.
Tip 4: Engage with influencers
A large part of having a successful personal brand is engaging and interacting with people with influential figures. Therefore one of the first things you need to do when engaging on social media is to pick out influential people in your industry that you are going to target. Whether it be a client you are really interested in getting on board and collaborating with or individuals you think would be interested in your product or service, sign up to their RSS feeds and read their blogs and tweets regularly (if they have them). If you find something they have written or tweeted interesting then be sure to comment or re-tweet – this helps you to get on their radar so when you approach them in the future they will already know who you are.
Tip 5: Become part of the community
Social media isn’t just about engaging with the people who can do something for you, it is all about becoming part of the community. Joining in with discussions on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be a great way to express your opinions and build relationships with individuals. Taking part in these discussions may not increase your sales or website hits but building your contact base no matter who they are could open many doors that you never knew were there.
Tip 6: Get yourself a monitoring service
Monitoring what people are saying about you online is a really important tool to have to create a strong personal brand and online presence.
Social media has paved the way for consumers to express their opinions and experiences about individuals and businesses, and if you’re not there to acknowledge them it could cause serious damage to your business – you therefore need to hear about it. There are two great tools you can use to do this:
Google Alerts – This is great for getting a real time view of what’s being said and with the world’s largest search giant behind it, you know it’s going to be fast. But beware, set up an alert for your name ‘Joe Bloggs’ you’ll receive alerts for everything on the web that contains that name which may defeat the purpose of getting the alerts.
Profiled.com – This site is pretty intelligent so you’ll get a well filtered list of what’s being said about you, but the reports are only available weekly – ok for some, not timely enough for others.
“As a small business owner, your reputation and personal brand is critical to success. It is how people view you and differentiate you from others, which helps you get more business” says Maria Duron personal branding and social media strategist.
The internet has become your biggest ally – especially for start-ups, so use it to your advantage!
About the Author: Written by Steve Wainwright, founder and chief executive of Profiled.com – A Professional Portal site which brings together your professional internet presence into one place for business contacts to access – in just one click. (www.profiled.com )