The Importance of Building Your Brand – Professionally and Personally
A while back, I met with a group of co-eds who are Entrepreneur majors at a local University to discuss building their personal brand. I was entertained by their questions and surprised by a few things. Namely, how unconnected most of them were. Yes, they were all on Facebook (in some capacity), and a handful were on Twitter, but when I asked how many of them wrote content in long-form, they looked at me like I had two heads.
I realize that most of the under-25 crowd communicates by text alone, but I was astounded by how few of them had even a basic understanding of self-promotion—especially from a group of students studying to become Entrepreneurs.
So instead of just being there as an entrepreneur and starter of several successful ventures, I decided to put on the other hat that I wear all the time—my Mom hat—and started giving out directives on ways they could brand themselves that I think may be helpful for many.
Own Your Name – There is nothing more important than “owning” your name. You need to own your name as a domain if it’s available. You also need to own the domain of your business, and while you’re at it, other domains that are available that are closely related to your business. You can redirect these domains back to your main page or let them just be. It’s cheap – go do it!
Buy Up the Social Media Real Estate – I use Namechk.com for my clients, and it’s a great resource to determine where your name is available on social media sites. You need to at least grab the obvious ones such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., but if you’re a crafter, you’ll want to grab your name on Etsy and others as well. You don’t have to be active on these sites, but again, it’s better for YOU to have it than run the risk of someone else grabbing it.
Start a Blog – I realize this is redundant for many reading this, but I can’t not mention it after my experience with the students. One of the common statements from them was “Is it just a journal of your life?” Well, it can be, but I encouraged them to find something they were passionate about and go from there.
Once on Google – One of the main things I wanted to stress to them is to be cautious what you put out in the interwebz. Have you Googled your name lately? Do it. If you haven’t done it ever, you’ll be astounded by what shows up. If you haven’t done it lately, you’ll still be amazed. Watch what you put out there because it shows up, and it sticks around for a long time. A blog that I contributed to over eight years ago (Baby Sanity Tips) STILL shows up pretty high in my google search, and that site hasn’t been touched in seven years. While the F-bomb might be pretty funny in context, it could hurt you down the road, especially if you’re just starting out.
Google Alerts – I set up Google Alerts for all my clients, and I have them set up for me, as well. Since my name is very hard to pronounce and is in no way phonetic (it’s pronounced Doe-kiss not Daw-kiss), I also set it up for the common misspellings of Dokus, Daukus and Daukis. With Google Alerts, anytime your name is mentioned, you get an alert. Granted this won’t happen much until you have a larger presence, but you may as well do it now.
Twitter – Again, I know I’m singing to the choir, but if you’re not on Twitter, you need to be there. Not only are there amazing people on Twitter, but it’s one of the best ways to get your content out there. I have made more connections and virtual friends (many of whom are real-life friends now) thru Twitter than any other way. If it’s new and scary to you, commit to it for six weeks. Find 10 new people to follow each day, start chatting, and I PROMISE that you will have your AHA! moment, and then you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Couple of things … follow people back unless they’re blatant MLM or spammers, and do NOT protect your tweets or use something like TrueTwit validation. You’ll never grow your audience that way.
Facebook – If you have a blog or a company, you should have a Facebook page for your blog or company. You will come across people who will want to “friend” you, and while the decision is yours, I recommend that you keep the casual reader or customer contained to your professional page and not your personal page. It’s easy to set up create a page, and don’t forget to promote it on your site!
Finally, make sure that you put your links on everything … your site, your email signature, and your business card if you have one. Branding is so important for all of us. Even if you only do a surface-level job of it, you never know when you’re going to need it to be spot-on and up-to-date. If you’re serious about your business and your brand, then you’re going to want to focus on these things even more. Either way—it’s your brand, how are you going to use it to promote you?