May 5, 2020

Does your personal brand need a boost?

Four tips to build and strengthen your online reputation and personal brand…

Your personal brand is more important than ever in today’s highly competitive online world. The way you convey yourself and your capabilities could ultimately influence whether or not a company decides to sign you as a vendor, hire you as an employee, or give you a promotion. According to ReputationManagement.com, your personal online brand can even influence your reputation among friends, co-workers, and other important networks.

You may be wondering what exactly constitutes someone’s “personal brand.” This term may be used loosely, but its importance does not waver. A personal brand encompasses anything online that is attached to your name, whether you have control over the content or not. This includes the content you post on social media, the tone of your blog posts, and even the comments and reviews others leave for you (good or bad).

What does a cohesive and effective personal brand look like? How do you achieve it and where do you start?

Someone with a positive personal brand gives you the impression they “have it all together.” It highlights their expertise and professionalism while leaving the viewer with an overall positive first impression. A strong online reputation not only leverages your namesake but protects it as well.

Building a favorable online brand that accurately reflects your strengths and desired image requires strategic planning and ongoing maintenance. If you’re experiencing a lull in your professional growth or you’re ready to level up your personal brand and reputation, get started by focusing on the following tips.

Google yourself…

Business associates, potential clients, and hiring managers will often search your name on Google first to learn more about you while considering a partnership. If you’ve never spent time searching your name online, start by using variations of your first, middle, and last names.

You will likely see your social media profiles, blog posts you’ve authored, and any news articles where your name has been mentioned. Any positive content that highlights accomplishments and achievements, online portfolios, volunteer work, etc. is great to have on the first couple of result pages.

However, many individuals may find their search engine results pages (SERPs) aren’t all favorable. In fact, 20 percent of a 1,000 participant survey found that their personalized search brought up inaccurate information. Additionally, 12 percent of participants surveyed admitted that they were unpleasantly surprised with their search results and 8 percent even reported finding embarrassing or reputation-damaging content.

Remove unwanted search results…

If your personalized search yields some unfavorable results, don’t fret. There are steps you can take to clean up your search results. Namely, you’ll want to remove as much negative content from the internet as possible.

Full removal of negative online content is the most effective approach, but usually the most difficult to accomplish. So, make sure you know exactly which types of search results you can remove from Google, and which ones you can’t. This may involve contacting the publisher responsible for posting the damaging content and politely asking for it to be removed.

In the meantime, put your focus on the content you can control– such as social media and blog posts– in an effort to offset the negative results with more favorable ones.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Google Alerts with your name and relative keywords so that you can be notified whenever someone publishes content with your information.

Identify what sets you apart…

What do you want to be known for when someone searches your name? Developing a strong personal brand requires you to truly know and define your strengths and values. Once you have those qualities defined, find ways to emphasize and highlight them in your online presence and content. Become a thought leader in your field by showcasing your existing knowledge and experience through publishing creative content such as blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, etc.

It’s important to build a well-rounded personal brand. Though it is important to showcase your strengths and expertise, it is equally crucial for your personal brand to showcase human qualities as well. Consider how you can communicate your dependability, positive attitude, and trustworthiness. Do you volunteer or donate to charitable causes? Share pictures and stories of how you’ve made an impact! Are you quick to take action and get things done dependably? Write a blog post about one of your success stories! Are you known for your timely and effective communication with your customers? Ask happy clients for an online review! It may feel uncomfortable to “show off,” but it’s up to you to promote yourself.

Build a network…

Once you’ve created and defined your personal brand, it’s time to build your network. A network helps boost your brand by making you more well-known in relative communities. It also helps your online reputation to connect with and support others in your niche. Surrounding yourself with experts gives you a leg up and puts you on the same playing field.

Start by strengthening the connections and relationships you already have. This may include alumni networks, community associations, local professional groups, and LinkedIn connections. Build these connections by prioritizing consistent communication and conversation. Be active on social media and interact with the content your network shares.

Fostering these connections and staying active on social media will expand your network organically. Be strategic with your social media planning by building out a content calendar that will resonate with both your audience and your professional network. There are hundreds of social media platforms available at the palm of your hand, so maximize your time and energy by researching which platforms these two groups frequent the most.

Keep in mind that even the best content and most genuine efforts can produce negative comments. When this happens, try to avoid getting defensive– there are steps you can take to properly handle negative social media comments.

When this happens, remember to respond promptly, but not until you’ve set aside your emotions and have crafted a strategic response. It’s important to remember that it’s never okay to counter-attack a comment. Instead, put yourself in that person’s shoes and take their point of view to heart. Consider asking this person to direct message you so you can genuinely communicate through their concern or opposing view. On the other side of the spectrum, it is important that you do not avoid their message or comment out of a desire to avoid conflict. Avoidance will only hurt your brand and reputation. No matter how long you have had an online presence, it is never too late to build an effective personal brand and improve your digital identity. If you’re ready to kick your career, business, or freelance up a notch, start by considering these tips and put a strategy into place.

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