1. Dan, a lot of old school marketers like myself are not really savvy on personal online branding. Could you explain what personal branding is and why it’s important to folks like me (40+ something)?
Personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. At the end of last year, I assembled a global team of experts to collaborate on a single and consistent definition of personal branding in a single wiki. To me, one of the most significant parts of this lengthy definition is “to achieve a specific goal” because there are far too many individuals who constantly shift their brand, without having a firm grasp on the direction they want to head in. Personal branding is about empowerment, becoming distinct in your field and commanding respect from others. It’s about emotionally and intellectually connecting with other people and forming concrete relationships.
Personal branding is important to everyone that want’s to succeed on the highest level. We all have personal brands, but most people don’t realize it or capitalize on their own strengths. Personal branding will not solve your problems if you are lazy or want to live an average life (which is OK). I see this concept being used a lot for authors, consultants and executives, who almost have no choice but to step foot into the topic because they are representing their company or are their own company.
2. What are some of the basic steps I need to do to start building a personal online brand?
1. Register yourname.com (domain) on BiteDomains.com or another hosting service to protect your brand from others that share the same name.
2. Claim your FULL name no the most popular social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
3. If you are 40+, you are probably an expert in your field or are passionate around something. Start a blog based around this topic on Wordpress.com or Typepad.com, which are both “beginner” blog services.
4. Network with other blog or website owners that you have genuine interest in and exchange links or posts with them.
5. Post 2-3 times per week and comment on other blogs.
3. Do I have to build a personal website or have a blog to have a personal brand??
A lot of people say “your blog is your brand,” which is completely false, unless it’s the only website on the internet with your name on it. If you have a Facebook profile, a blog, a traditional website, a write-up in the Boston Globe and 100 comments on blogs, then the combined sum of your presence is your eBrand (or online personal brand). Some people choose to form their brands solely in the comment sections of blogs, while others develop a blog based on their expertise. As long as you have a strategy and goal in mind, and have the passion to back that up, then I see no reason for anyone to not be successful.
Again, we all have personal brands; just not everyone has viewed yours.
4. What are some of the things I should do or not do in managing my personal online brand?
When you’re online, I think it’s important to establish a method for monitoring your reputation. Set a Google alert for your name, as well as your topic by subscribing through RSS. Get a feed reader (I recommend Google’s) use that to centralize your subscriptions. Also, go to Technorati.com and set the same feed alert by searching on your name and subscribing.
You can control what Google says about you if you start a blog and have presence on social networks. This becomes increasingly more difficult if you have a common name like Michael Smith. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks have a high PageRank, so they tend to rank high in search engines and therefore when someone Google’s your name, you can control your eBrand.
You want to be authentic and transparent online, which includes admitting mistakes and being honest with your readers. Anything you say and do is cataloged in Google, so decide which face you want to show to the world. I typically tell the younger generation to stay away from party pictures on Facebook.
5. Can you recommend any resources to go to and learn more about building a personal online brand?
My blog has become a central hub for all things personal branding at www.personalbrandingblog.com. I also publish a quarterly magazine on the topic and give away free sample issues at www.personalbrandingsample.com. My other recommendations include my friend Neil Patel’s blog www.quicksprout.com, as well as Maria Elena Duran’s blog at www.medbuzz.wordpress.com. If you want to learn more about blogging, there is Darren’s blog at www.problogger.net and Anna Farmery will teach you how to be authentic at http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com.