This guest post by Dan Schawbel, is in perfect alignment with Ponn’s Internet Branding series that just started the other day. Enjoy the education
Since the start of the internet, the term eBranding was present, but overlooked. It used to be all about companies building websites to promote products and then eCommerce websites were unearthed as a gateway for people to actually purchase products online and have them shipped. People didn’t realize that they would actually promote themsleves online through this very same medium. eBranding, in essence, is everything on the internet that represents you. At the beginning of your career you actually get to decide how people view you online. Your eBrand could be a limited to a single blog or website and then can be spread thin among several social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The total sum of all your presences online is your eBrand. The more you give people to see, the more you will judged on.
Everyone in this generation must have their own eBrand. The cost of building one is minimal to free and the rewards are tremendous. Before explaining various strategies, you must think about who you are and what you stand for. You need to take a niche, such that you are the best at something for a specific audience. How do you describe yourself and how do others describe you? I call this discovering your personal brand and it’s a necessity before you go through the hassle of actually creating content.
Let’s get started:
· Blogging : Let’s face it, if you want to have a successful career in the digital age, blogging is your ticket. If you use wordpress.com you can start a free blog in seconds and they just upgraded their systems to version 2.5, which has a better look and feel, as well as the ability to post video and sounds in a flash. Your other options are to use Blogger.com, which is Google’s blog platform (free as well), Typepad.com or WordPress.org. With WordPress.org, you must host it on your own domain and server space, but you have more flexibility with design. A blog allows you to deliver value to your niche and over time, that value translates into new business or professional contacts.
· Commenting: You don’t have to have a blog to participate in the blogosphere. Commenting is an amazing way to show bloggers you care about their writing. When you comment, try and add something relevant to the discussion or directed them to other sources. If you have a blog, comments will draw traffic and possibly subscribers.
· Guest Posting: The bad news is that writing specifically on your blog is not enough anymore. To form stronger relationships and turn the “visibility switch” off on your eBrand, you need to write for other sources in your niche.
· Off-Blog Networking: Sure, anyone can comment on a blog, but not many people take advantage of the contact information provided by the blogger. Commenting is about continuing the conversation, whereas off-blog networking is about actually getting to know the author. I’m not saying call the person, but at least connect through email if you have genuine interest in the person or their topic.
· Byline Articles: Are you an expert? Well it’s time to start thinking like an expert. Guest blogging will be rewarding, but it’s not as strong as writing for traditional media sources. By branding yourself on respected websites and having your articles link back to your eBrand, you are establishing credibility, while increasing traffic simultaneously.
· Existence on Social Networks: Your eBrand needs to be where the people are. Facebook has 63 million users, while LinkedIn has 20 million. Why not create your profile and link to your blog or website? When you join social networks, be sure to understand that it’s all public. Don’t post pictures of “drunken moments,” but instead have a profile that expresses your brand in a professional, yet personal, light.
· Domains: If you haven’t purchased a domain to secure your eBrand, you will be at a huge disadvantage later in life. For $6.95, you can buy yourname.com at GoDaddy.com. The purpose of buying your domain is two-fold. First, .com’s rank very high in search engines and secondly, people remember names. By searching for you or typing in your name in the search bar, your eBrand will come up.