When it comes to business, your most important brand asset is YOU. If you’re selling something, getting people to know who you are – and to like what they see/hear/read – is key to convincing them that your widget or your service is just what they need (and that they should pay for YOUR widget or service instead of going elsewhere).
So many people now use the Internet and social networks to research the companies and individuals with whom they do business. How can you make sure you have a well-distributed online presence that best showcases who you are and what you do? Your online brand is like a puzzle with multiple pieces that fit together in just the right way to convey just the right image and message.
Here are 9 things you can do today to enhance your personal brand online:
1. Complete your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is the go-to professional “social” network and no longer just a place to post your resume. Go to your LinkedIn account and make sure you’ve filled it out completely. Revisit your your professional headline. Does it include keywords that best summarize who you are and what you do? Also revisit your Summary under Background. Does your personality shine through or is it dry and, well, boring?
2. Enhance your LinkedIn profile with Recommendations.
Ask for Recommendations on LinkedIn. This feature is now hard to find, but it is still a straightforward way to ask your contacts for more detailed testimonials than the quick Endorsements feature. To request a Recommendation through LinkedIn:
- Move your cursor over your profile pic at the upper right corner of your LinkedIn homepage. Select Privacy and Settings.
- Click the Manage your Recommendations link under Helpful Links in the middle of the page. (see image below – it is hard to find!)
- Click the Ask for recommendations link on the tab near the top of the page.
- Select a position from the “What do you want to be recommended for?” dropdown list.
- In the “Who do you want to ask?” section, enter names of connections into the text field or click the address book icon to search for connections.
- Craft your message and click Send.
3. Add files to your LinkedIn profile.
Did you know you can upload files including graphics and PowerPoint presentations to your profile on LinkedIn? As you are editing your Summary, you’ll see a symbol that looks like a square with a plus sign. That lets you upload files that appear in your profile. (see image below)
Here’s how my profile looks with both PowerPoint slides and also JPEGs of some of my book covers.
4. Set up an About.me Page
Think of an About.me page as your personal “homepage” on the web that is a simple launch pad to the rest of your presences online including your social networks. Setting up an About.me page is easy – just sign up, upload a very high resolution image of you that effectively conveys your brand, write a very brief bio (brevity is the key to a successful About.me profile), and then add your social networks and other sites. Here’s my About.me page as an example.
The beauty of an About.me page is that you don’t have to post to it or even update it often unless the core information about you or the sites you use change. Some people use their About.me page as the link in other social networks, such as on Twitter, driving people to a single place that consolidates all the places they are online. Make sure you also include your contact information on your About.me page to make it easy for people to be in touch.
5. Set up and complete your Google+ profile.
Whether you like it or not, Google draws from your Google+ profile and activity on G+ to populate its search engine about you. You can control how you appear in Google searches as an individual by filling out your G+ profile with all the key information you want people to know and by using a photograph of yourself that best reflects your personal brand. Even if you choose not to use it actively to start, create a vibrant and informative placeholder on Google+ and point to your key sites.
6. Link your Google profile to the content you publish online.
Wonder how people’s photos show up next to content served up in a Google search? That could be because they claimed the content they’ve published online – or that is published by sites other than their own – by claiming authorship through Google. Google gives the steps of claiming authorship as:
Link content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.wired.com) to your Google+ profile.
- Make sure you have a profile photo with a recognizable headshot.
- Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Steven Levy”).
- Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
- Verify you have an email address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org) on the same domain as your content. (Don’t have an email address on the same domain? Use this method to link your content to your Google+ profile)
The image below shows my photo displayed in Google search results right next to content I posted to my Google+ profile (see #5 above) as well as by content that appears on Entrepreneur.com because I claimed authorship to articles I’ve written for Entrepreneur that they have published online.
Learn more about Google Authorship.
7. Use SlideShare to show off your slides
Gone are the days of boring PowerPoints. Today, your slide presentations can tell others a lot about who you are and what you do. Take a look at the popular presentations on the slide presentation sharing site SlideShare. Show what you know in short slide presentations – ones that are nicely designed, visual and informative – and upload them to SlideShare. Or if you give presentations, put them on your SlideShare profile. You can then embed your slides into your website or blog posts using the SlideShare embed code or share your slides easily from your profile to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.
The pro version of SlideShare lets you add a lead generation form to some or all of your slides. You can see my SlideShare profile as an example. And below is an example of an embedded presentation.
8. Create your Vizify visual resume
In this day and age of online visuals, you can take your LinkedIn profile a step further by linking it to an online visual data tool called Vizify. Using Vizify, you can easily import your LinkedIn content (see #1 first to make sure your profile is complete), then watch text transform into graphics, charts and maps. You can also connect some of your favorite social networks with Vizify including Twitter and even “animate” your Twitter profile in an instant mini video. Here’s my Vizify visual resume.
9. Make an infographic
An infographic is a visual representation of data. Much in the same way Vizify turns your LinkedIn in text into graphics, there are tools out there that help you convert data points into visual representations including Visual.ly, Easel.ly, Picktochart, and infogr.am. Here’s an infographic I created with Easel.ly. Share your infographics widely by adding them to your site, including them in blog posts, using them in slide presentations and sharing them to your social networks including Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
There you have it! 9 ways you can build and enhance your personal brand online. If you use other online tools or tactics to build and showcase your personal brand online, feel free to share in the comments below.