Building your personal brand is easier (and more valuable) than you might think

Every day on campus at IMI I see our participants using networks and groups to share their expertise and develop their personal brand.  The confidence that they get from learning how to present themselves is one of the aspects of a programme that participants value most and has contributed to many subsequent career progressions.

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When it comes to translating their personal brand to the web however many people are hesitant. They often think that each post or update has to be an earth-shattering revelation.In fact, the opposite is true.

Developing your personal profile on the web is about short, focussed and relevant updates in your area of interest.

The reality is that it’s possible for a professional with little or no knowledge of IT to share their expertise to a wide audience for little or no cost. There are 4 key steps:

Find your voice
Before beginning to broadcast your message, think about what you have to offer. Conduct a personal S.W.O.T analysis of your skills and map this to what you want out of posting online.

Do you have a thought about a recent trend in your industry? Are you working on a project with implications beyond your organisation? What are you hearing from your customers and why? Keep posts and updates short and relevant to your desired audience.

Choose your channel(s)
For sharing your point of view quickly Twitter is hard to beat. What the platform lacks in depth it makes up for in audience. This means Twitter can sometimes feel like shouting at a rock concert however – sure it’s a great release but does it have any real impact? Find topics you have knowledge on and contribute your thoughts – but avoid blatant self-promotion. Remember the point is to contribute.

If Twitter is a rock concert, LinkedIn is a small gig with an obscure folk band. Your LinkedIn profile is ideal for connecting with like-minded professionals who share your interests. For this reason, the LinkedIn groups that allow sharing of expertise are an underestimated aspect of managing your personal brand.

Creating a blog is the next and arguably the most valuable step in managing your personal brand. While the prospect of writing articles can seem daunting, many readers of professional blogs aren’t looking for advice. They want to know others in their profession or industry experience the same challenges and successes.

Setting yourself up with a blog is only slightly more complicated than creating a twitter or LinkedIn profile. The blogging platform WordPress’s free option set up is straight-forward. Your first post can be live in less than five minutes. You can build your blog’s appearance as you go but for beginners it’s important to remember that readers respond to content, not design gymnastics. Your time is better spent reflecting and writing.

Bring it all together
You may be concerned about the amount of time necessary to manage three channels – WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not to worry – each of these platforms offers ways of automatically sharing your updates across them to save you time. Be aware of your audience however – not many LinkedIn users want to get the hourly updates that can be standard on Twitter. If you blog, make your blog visible on LinkedIn and update twitter with your new posts.

Get involved
These channels offer two-way communication for a reason. As with face-to-face conversations, people in your network will respond to interesting topics and engaging questions. But remember – just as in your day to day interactions starting interesting conversations is much more engaging than declaring your point of view in a manner which stifles debate. Engage in group discussions on LinkedIn, mention relevant people on Twitter and in your blog posts, Whenever possible, end your posts with a call-to-action by asking readers to comment or to complete a survey.

Taking control of your personal brand will extend your professional network and allow you to take part in interesting conversations. It’s possible at little or no cost and with minimal know-how.

Find your voice, choose your channel, bring it all together and get involved… and it can potentially energise your career in more ways than you initially intended.

The specific skills you acquire in presenting yourself online are becoming more and more in demand by organisations seeking to raise their own profiles in line with their brand.  If you find you have a talent for communicating brand value or are interested in how digital can help organisations grow then check out our IMI Diploma in Marketing Strategy with Digital Marketing which has been developed in conjunction with business to bring these skills to the next level.

The IMI Library has resources that can help you setup and develop your personal brand – drop in or contact us via our website. If you’d like specific advice on any of the above or want to share your online experience leave a comment below this post.

To join IMI’s community online check out our profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Matthew Kelleher is the Library Manager at IMI. His interests include information management technology, human-computer interaction and online learning.

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