More and more people are starting to realize the power of having a 'personal' online presence and building a personal brand. I have been asked a lot about how I built my brand so I thought I would repeat that conversation here on my blog. However in the context of marketing, I think we also need to spend more time with our executives and helping them to build their online brand which will only further the business relationships that they already have. There are a lot of things you can do to build an online brand but it doesn't need to be a cumbersome activity and ultimately I think there are three main steps that will make the biggest impact:
1. LinkedIn: I've been a LinkedIn user since 2000. But it wasn't until 2004 that I saw the the biggest benefit on how to leverage the site. Coming from the very fluid start-up environment and having changed bosses 3 times in one year and co-workers constantly I needed a way to capture recommendations from the people I worked with. I now manage this very closely; if I change positions or if someone I work closely with changes positions I will ask them to write a brief recommendation on my profile while their memory of working with me is still fresh. This helps build my brand with credible third party resources. It's also a great way to build and manage your professional network.
Another way to use LinkedIn to build a brand - although I haven't taken advantage of this - is to participate in the Answers forum. This allows you to provide your input on topics you have an expertise in and your 'answers' are tied back to your profile so you build on the credibility of your expertise overtime.
2. Blog: The biggest brand builder for me has come from my blogging efforts - but this is also the most time consuming. I started blogging just over a year ago in May 2007 and started seeing the benefits after just a few posts. Since I enjoy blogging and the topic I cover I don't consider it 'work' but that is how others view it. So, if you know you can't commit to writing and maintaining a blog don't bother, there are other options for you...
Blogging is about joining the conversation by having my own blog that just means at times I'm also starting a conversation but a lot of the time I am still reading and commenting on other blogs. You can still build a brand and expertise in your area by finding the appropriate blogs and joining the conversation by commenting. Usually when you comment on a blog you have the ability to add a cross link, if you have a blog yourself you obviously want to link to that but if you don't, your LinkedIn profile is a good place to link to so that people can learn about who you are and get a sense of your authority/expertise level.
3. Facebook: I haven't been on Facebook as long - I think it's just under a year now and to be honest I don't use FaceBook to it's full potential either. I do have my profile developed and I do use it to connect with my professional network and the nature of Facebook allows me to interact with my network at a more personal level. However there are many groups within Facebook that would allow me to build my brand further if I was an active participant in these communities - I choose not to participate because of lack of time and instead participate in the blogosphere conversations but again if you don't want to commit to blogging this is a less cumbersome way of joining the conversation and ultimately building your online brand.