It is not who you know or what you know, but who knows what
Would you agree with this statement? One would assume so. If people don't know what you are worth, it is unlikely you will make much progress in your chosen profession. How do you get the word out though? And make a strong case for yourself? No genie will come to your rescue. But there are magic lamps out there to make a brand out of you -- as long as you know how to rub them right.
Why do you need to brand yourself?
When people want to associate with you professionally, they need to be comfortable knowing who they are dealing with. This could be for a job, a contract, an assignment or a partnership or investment in a venture. The greater your personal brand equity, the bigger break you could get.
Branding yourself does not mean you have to put up billboards of yourself around town. The virtual world is your magic lamp; do the following and see how you stand taller among your peers.
~ Set up a public profile: The starting point. Go to a professional networking site, LinkedIn strongly recommended, and create an account. Fill out everything about yourself in detail as required, including your special achievements and skills. Get people to post recommendations on your profile. LinkedIn allows you to have a URL with your name as a part of it like http://linkedin.com/in/vinaymehta: get it and point people to this link. Make sure you also build a quality network of contacts -- this will show who you know and who knows you. At a glance others will know all about you professionally.
~ A personal blog: Get yourself one; these are free and can be set up in minutes on sites like Rediff, Blogger and Wordpress. You can also get a domain with a custom name, even your own, which is a good idea. Talk about one subject you feel strongly about -- it could be about your professional expertise, public interest issues, travel, a hobby or anything else. Set up multiple blogs if you have the capacity to maintain the same. When deciding a subject area, ask yourself this question: Will anyone care to read about what I am writing? Go ahead only if the answer is in the affirmative. Stay clear of personal ramblings -- what you write will reflect on the kind of person you are and how you think.
~ A personal website: It could be an extension of your blog or a separate one. Let it be like your online CV covering academics, career path, testimonials, photographs, achievements, skills, published works, links to your blog and work-related sites and other relevant information. Make sure your website and blogs are well designed -- select neat templates and inviting colours. Don't be flashy for the sake of it.
~ Write for publications: Look for any available opportunities to write for websites, newspapers and magazines -- people will notice you and this will add to your profile. Media outlets are always open to accepting columns from experts and knowledgeable professionals.
~ Be on social networking sites also. Show yourself to be multi-dimensional. These sites, unlike professional networking ones, are more about your personal side like your hobbies, holidays, family and friendships.
~ Show yourself to be an expert: There are many online forums where you can participate in Question and Answer sessions. Join the ones where business subjects are discussed; there is none as powerful as the one on LinkedIn.com. When you share your knowledge, people start recognising you for your expertise in your area of work -- and you don't know who may want to connect with you and send an opportunity your way.
~ Network, network, network: Develop relationships with as many people as you can, with diverse backgrounds and not just relevant to your own industry. Everyone has a contribution to make. And the internet, especially through social networking sites, allows you to do so without moving away from your desk.
Doing just all of the above will be a waste if you don't tell the world about your online identities and presence so they can check you out. Try these proven but mostly under-utilised methods:
Your business card: Let it mention links to your profile, blogs, personal websites and addresses on the net. If it gets too cluttered, highlight only the most important.
Your email signature should also carry all these links; there is no problem of space here unlike in a business card. Every time someone gets a mail from you, let them link further to you at the click of the mouse.
Promote your blog: Blogs attract traffic on their own if the subject matter is popular and regularly posted. But this may take a long time. Visit other blogs on related subjects, and leave comments on posts there -- and add a link to your blog too. Also talk to other blog owners and carry links of each other's blogs on your respective ones. This will drive traffic to your blog and also boost your search engine rankings.
Check yourself on Google: Search for yourself from time to time, and see where you figure on Google. Go for do-it-yourself or professional Search Engine Optimisation -- these are structured ways you can use to boost your rankings. There is enough guidance on the net to tell you more about this.
Create a brand when you don't need it
Don't set out on a branding exercise only when you need to switch jobs or meet any other career goal. For best results, do so when you don't need it, because opportunities usually come knocking without an appointment and you should make it easier for them to find you.
Using the resources available on the internet gives you a chance to brand yourself and become more visible to the world that matters.
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