How to Build a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One)

How to become your own brand

A couple of years ago social media sites were a great source of entertainment and a means of connecting with friends. In recent years, however, a social media has becoming a haven for marketing, sales and networking (making connections with like-minded people).

If your work is in any way related to digital marketing, your presence on social media sites is a necessity.

In a previous post, I wrote about the social-media sites on which an online marketer should have a presence.  Today I will be sharing tips that will help you to improve your personal brand on these sites.

One of the most common statements I have heard from fellow bloggers or young entrepreneurs is “I want my brand to be visible rather than me”.  In other words, they want to enhance their company’s visibility rather than their own personal visibility.  Here is my take on this idea:

You are your company.  If you are growing, your company is growing, and vice versa. Moreover, social-media sites are all about networking – making real connections rather than just having thousands of people in your friend list or circle.

If you are among those who are leery of going public, or if you are an introvert who is afraid of having a strong online presence, you have to release that mindset, and accept and understand the significance of your social-media presence.

Here is a useful guide to getting started with social media presence.

If you fall into the other category of online users who have profiles on all major social-media networks, but those profiles are idle and of no useful consequence for your business, this post will help you to understand what you can do to improve your personal brand and make those sites work for you. Even if you don’t like to publish updates every day or tweet countless time a day, this article will help you to establish a reputable personal brand on all of your social media sites.

How to Begin with Personal Branding on Social-Media Platforms:

Before I share my tips and ideas in the form of a list, here is one thing that you should know:

Not having a profile at all is better than having an incomplete  profile or a profile containing misinformation.

Your profile is the beginning of your personal branding process. Take time to create that profile in such a way that it will serve you well for a long time to come.

Here are a few ideas to get you started with the task of creating your profile:

Take out a notepad, and write a seductive introduction telling readers who you are. Try to keep it short and concise, and ensure that people can understand you, can see your personality through your words, and can clearly understand what you have to offer.

For example:

Passionate about adventure sports, occasional motivational speaker, love internet marketing, full-time blogger.

Here are some other example bios/profiles from some of the users I enjoy on Twitter:

Jaydip Twitter ProfileDarren Social Media Intro

Twitter Kumar Gauraw

The intros/profiles above are great for Twitter profiles, but when you are writing your “About” section on another platform like Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Plus, you have more space and you should spice it up with more details. You can keep it personal or make it professional, depending on your personality and your goals.

Ultimately your goal should be to show your best and most interesting side, and leave an impression that causes people to remember you.

Note:  Would you remember the same bio that you are used to seeing on hundreds of other profiles? Be remarkable and be unique!

Let’s get started!

If you have not yet picked the right image for your profile picture, let’s begin there. Work on getting the best “mug-shot” type picture of yourself, and keep it handy on your desktop with a name like “profile photo” so that you can access it to use as necessary.

One reason for using a good strong image of yourself or your brand is the fact that people have greater recollection based on images. This applies when they see an update from someone in their social media timeline.

A rule of thumb here is to use the same image across all platforms in an effort to strengthen and enhance your personal brand and presence. If you are using various different images, it will be much harder (and less likely) for you and your brand to be remembered.

Imagine that I have spoken to you on Facebook, but on Twitter you are using some other image.  I’ve associated you and/or your brand with the first image.  When I see the second, different image am I likely to know that this is the same brand?  Am I likely to associate you with the brand I saw on Facebook?   Remember: Most people who work online talk to/connect with many people on a given day. Your goal is to leave them with such a clear visual impression that they can instantly recall you at a later time.

Now that you have your bio and images ready, it’s time to follow the tips below to get the most out of your social media presence:

Make a list of social-media sites where you need to be:

There are endless sites where you can establish an online presence, but there are only a few sites where you need to be active at least once a day. For example, I have my profile on sites such as Delicious, Digg and StumbleUpon, but I am not active on those sites. However, I am very active on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.  It is best to have your presence available, updated and active on all major sites.

Establish a unique handle for use across all platforms:

Just as it is important to have a unique, memorable image across all platforms, it is equally important to have a unique handle across all social media platforms that you use.  For instance, you can find me with the handle @denharsh or @shoutmeloud on every major social media platform.

You can use an online tool called KnowEm to check the availability of usernames you might like to use.  This tool will check the availability of that username on all major social-media platforms. This process will also help you to discover a long list of social media and bookmarking sites where you can create your online profile.

If you are a busy person with no time to do this yourself, you can hire a freelancer or simply use the KnowEm Pro service to create your social media profile. (My suggestion is to do it yourself. In 1-2 hours, you will be creating your / your brand’s digital presence for the rest of your / it’s life. You know best what kind of impression you want to leave and what kind of presence you want to maintain for the long term.

Here is a list of sites where I suggest you establish a username and build your presence. (If you are a blogger, some of these sites will help you to grab some good links, too!)

Social-Media Sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Blogger
  • Foursquare
  • Quora
  • Gravatar
  • Disqus
  • SlideShare

There are many more, and depending upon the niche you are in, you may wish to choose a few more from the extensive list over here.

Recapping:  Your first steps for personal branding are to complete your profile, reflect your personality with your bio, establish your image, establish your username and begin building your presence on the list of major social media networking sites.

People you should follow:

There is a growing trend of accepting all friend requests on Facebook, auto-following back all Twitter followers and circling everyone who circles you on Google Plus. Indeed, this strategy works great when you want to see big numbers on your social media profile, but in my opinion it is not worth your time. All of these social media profiles offer a way for others to follow your work. For example, on Facebook we have a “subscribe” feature that is remarkable and more useful than just adding random people you don’t even know, and you might never meet in your life.

Adding too many people with whom you have no kinship and no relationship at all will only serve to make your time-line overcrowded, and you will miss out on making real connections with like-minded people, which of course is the goal of your social media presence in the first place. I am guilty of having made this mistake in the past, and based on my experience I recommend that you avoid it.

Quality checks start from day one, and if you continue to maintain the quality of your presence with consistent monitoring, you will have a far better and cleaner online footprint in future. Don’t make the same mistake I made and the same mistake many social media experts are making. If your work is remarkable, people will automatically follow you. Put the right subscription buttons in the right places and maintain the quality of your online presence. (If you are a blogger and a regular reader wants to connect with you, you can make an exception.)

Do remember that entrepreneurship is all about doing what you believe is right, and living what you are preaching.

Here is an eye-opening quote from Warren buffet, which you should read and follow:

Warren Buffett Quotes 4

So — you have built your online presence and you are ready to create a personal brand.

Now it’s time to spice up your personal branding.  Here are some tips that will help you with this task:

Talk about trending topics in your niche:

Whatever niche you are in, always talk about the trending topics in that niche. Give your personal voice to articles you are sharing, and add more value with your expert opinion (and/or the expert opinions of others). If you consistently write about a particular topic over the long term, you will come to be seen as an expert in that area. And since you are one of the people who is seen to have expertise where that topic is concerned, your opinion and insight will matter.

Self-promotion vs. care for others:

One of the most common mistakes most young bloggers and entrepreneurs make is obsessive self-promotion.

Your social media profile is the best way to set yourself apart as an industry expert, and that will happen when you help others.

If you constantly promote your articles, and never promote the work of others by sharing their articles, you are likely to be left out when other social media experts have the opportunity to share your work. Remember, your social media profile is all about creating meaningful connections. Maintain a ratio of 30:70 (30%: self- promotion, 70%: promoting others) when sharing anything on social-media platforms.

Talk about your achievements:

When you do something new or achieve something special such as receiving an award,  share that on your social media platforms. People who are connected to you will know about your achievements, and this will have a ripple effect as they pass the good work of your achievements along. Don’t be shy about sharing your achievements or your good fortune, but take care in how you share this type of information.  If you come across like some egocentric guy you will not be well received.  However, a humble person’s achievements provoke joy and congratulations and encouragement.

Have a personal blog:

If you are a blogger, ensure that you have a personal blog where you can talk about anything that interests you. Most of the time we limit ourselves to the niche of our professional blog.  But having a personal blog gives you more space for an abundance of things that you can write about. This is one tried-and-tested method which works very well for most of the popular infopreneurs I know of, and it is something you should focus on as well, as part of the brand you are building. You can check out my personal blog at denharsh.com, where I write my thoughts on a variety of topics.

A few more tips:

  • Remember that personal branding is not a one-shot deal – it’s a continuous process.
  • With time, your strategy and ideas will evolve and change, so modify and enhance accordingly.
  • Pay special attention to people who care about you on social media and especially in your personal life.
  • Take advantage of social media tools like Bufferapp and Hootsuite to help in achieving your personal branding goals.
  • Always remember that your ideas are unique, so don’t be shy about sharing them with others who may benefit from hearing them or reading them.
  • Stay away from social media conflicts. This is very important. Do not waste your precious time inserting yourself where you don’t belong.
  • When sharing status updates on any social media platform, take advantage of hashtags. This will help other like-minded people to discover and connect with you.

The future of marketing is changing, and brands are looking to reach out to customers via influential people in the field. This is the right time for you to become an influential person in your industry, and to enjoy the benefits of that status.

If you have any other tips for personal online branding, do let me know via the comment section below.

Don’t forget to share this article with your online friends.

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.

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COMMENTs ( 11 )

  1. Sayyed Parvez says

    Hi Harsh,
    Amazing article. You have rightly said, ‘Social-media sites are all about making real-connection rather than just having thousands of people in your friend list or circle’. It is very true. Inspiring and motivating piece of work. Thanks…

  2. Priyanka says

    great tips. yes definitely branding and an attractive profile is very necessary to build your online presence. this is very inspiring.

  3. says

    Hi Harsh,

    Great personal branding tips but I think social media is best to to spread your own personal brand. It takes some time but works.

    Thank you for this amazing tips…. :)

  4. Arun Kallarackal says

    Hi Harsh,

    What an awesome article that was! I must admit that it was a long post, that I spent some time reading it. But that time spent was very well spent, for I got some timeless tips and inspiration to build and enhance ‘personal branding’ :)

    Well, at first, I was an introvert and would shy away from networking opportunities on social media sites. Thankfully, I have got over it and now I’m trying to be active in it. Okay, I’ve been underestimating that ‘profile’ and introduction part. The example of some good introductory lines you provided will guide me for sure.

    And one more thing I learned here is to select handful of social networking sites and concentrate my efforts on them. So far, I’ve been dissipating my energy across numerous sites, without getting much returns. That piece of advice will be acted upon by me.

    I will also keep that self promotion vs others’ promotion ratio in my mind. I guess that the good karma, which I’ll accumulate by sharing others’ stuff will reward me later! :)

    Thanks for this inspiring article! Very valuable info shared by you!

    Arun

  5. says

    Another great one from the boss.
    I believe if I can even do half of what you said in this post, I’ll have a great presence online…imagine that I do all of it! I want also add that one shouldn’t turn his/her timeline into a link farm, people get tired of that. Share ideas and if need be put a link to it, and it must always be your link.
    Thanks a lot! Harsh

  6. Sahith says

    Wonderful Harsh!

    Whenever I come to your blog, I definitely learn something from you which inspires me to blog. Keep your good work going. ;)

  7. says

    A very inspirational and informative article once again by Harsh Bhai!! This is the era of Personal branding, without branding it’s really difficult to survive in this competitive business.The hard work will pay off for sure if everyone follow these tips.

    Regards
    Deepak

  8. Ritul Gangwar says

    Hey Harsh,

    Lovely tips ! Actually I think , social media is a best way to explore your content and know the taste of today’s world.
    Anyway I get some more important tips and info. Thanks for sharing.

    Regards
    Ritul Gangwar

  9. Sourav says

    As you said, earlier internet was a locus for entertainment and hangout with friends. But, now Internet has a major role to be played in marketing and business. Actually , It is the Internet that makes business easier . So , it is very important to brand our self and our company online. It’s nothing but social interaction. You’ve listed out the best ways for PERSONAL BRANDING :)

    Cheers ! Keep writing :)

  10. says

    Really Great Harsh! You gifted me with some amazing tips.Eespecially if you compare my twitter profile with others then you’ll become sick! I think its time to make it up :). Personal Branding is so important for a popular person.I’m sure one day I’ll also become one ;)

    Have a Great Day Harsh :)

  11. Vikas Yadav says

    Hello Harsh, It is true that in today competitive world having a good Online presence is very necessary for everyone who works mostly online. These tips are really helpful for any blogger or any other person who work online. Thanks a lot for sharing this useful post with us.

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