I love connecting with extraordinary people; it's part of my amazing journey in this life. And, in my current stead of helping people build meaningful and successful careers I have had the esteemed pleasure of running across remarkable folks who are really out there DOING IT, people who have exploded their personal brands!
Your personal brand is the most important factor when laying out an effective career blueprint and then building and executing that blueprint into an targeted action plan.
So, I have gathered 50 Seriously Greats Tips to Elevate Your Personal Brand in 2010 from people who are certainly doing it themselves and who were very quick to come forward, offering help to you. Many of them will be thought and game changers for you in your career and business.
It took me thrice as long to ink this blog post because I kept visiting the sites of my fearless contributors. I invite you to do the same.
This truly is a keeper so you may want to print it and include it in your business plan, your career blueprint and your marketing plans as a guideline to keep coming a back to. And, feel free to share!
1. Be an expert
"Position yourself as an expert and be willing to take up public speaking opportunities in your business community. Many associations, organizations and companies are consistently looking for slots to fill at monthly meetings and annual conferences. Target speaking opportunities that will position you in front of your target audience. This exposure leads to increased visibility and when delivered right, increases your credibility. It's estimated the less than 2% of the American population enjoys public speaking, so it's usually a great way to get a leg up on your competition." Amy Jantzer, www.weedott.com
2. Make the most of a great business card
"Break the Business Card Malaise. I'm working on new business cards, but as opposed to the same old same old with a new design I'm doing a whole different format - doing them as trading cards. I have an artist friend do comic-style artwork, build the card myself in a simple graphics program, and print it via Zazzle. You instantly have a business card that stands out from the crowd in design, shape, and creativity. There are trading cards for comic characters, games, sports figures, and so on - pick the style that fits your brand!" Steven Savage, www.stevensavage.com
3. Have instantly recognizable brand elements
"Make sure everything you do is consistent with the personality you've established for your brand and appropriate for your product. If you're an authority, your tone should always be expert. If you're an entertainer, well, your tone should be entertaining. Everything should be consistent, from your appearance, your language, your logo, even your fonts and colors for your website, blog and print materials. They should be instantly recognizable as Your Brand. In a noisy marketplace, those who stand out as consistently delivering the same experience or product, from the initial encounter to the very end, will win! Celia Milton, www.Celiamilton.com
4. Be a networking group leader
"Join an appropriate networking group and become a leader and thought changer. If there are opportunities to become a leader and show the community how much you know about your field of expertise, that can bring more awareness to your company and propel your brand forward." Sarah Shaw, www.entreprenette.com
5. Gain insight by surveying your peeps
"Go out there and see what messages people are sharing about you. Google, Yahoo and Bing yourself. Where do you show up...what messages are out there...what's the gap between what you want and where you are now? You can also survey customers, colleagues, family and friends...what
do they think about your brand, how do they feel when they see, hear, read info from the brand, etc. Use the insight from each area of research to build the brand you really want." Jennifer Davidson, www.strategicdeviation.com
6. Keep your name in the press
"Use sites like HARO to find creative ways to keep your name in the press. The other is blogs, by using your blog correctly, articles you write come out looking like news items." Judy Misbin May www.wearemarketing.com
7. Set yourself apart with your knowledge
"Often, too many people try to build their brand without enough substance. Your associates, clients, audience, and/or customers should see you as an expert in your field. Their expectations should be that you are up to date with the latest industry news, current trends, and useful information. So, what do you do now? Set aside a small portion of each day to build your expertise. Subscribe to trade magazines, newsletters and other publications that can help to make you an informed expert. Of course, Internet sites and consumer publications that effect your industry can be very helpful with stories on latest styles and current trends. Set yourself apart from others in your industry with your knowledge, and willingness to share it with clients. Not gossip, but useful and helpful information. The more that you become an important resource to others, the easier it will be to promote your own personal brand. Jhan Dolphin, www.jrobertconsulting.com
8. Reconcile your public perception
"Take a moment to get feedback on your brand and how you currently show up in the world. Many times the brand we believe we have and the perception of us in the outside world need to be reconciled. It's hard to take a look at ourselves, and well worth it to improve." Monic Cost, www.evidentlyassured.com
9. Increase your "human factor" online
Increasing your personal brand is about consistency, transparency, and the "human" factor when you are trying to elevate online. Encourage your "offline" contacts and fans to interact with you online to elevate your brand to larger markets. They know you personally and know your brand very well. By coming to your site and engaging you online they bring that "human" factor to the page, they peel back the internet veil and provide credibility because readers who do not know you get a sense for what you are "really like". When they allude or directly talk about the offline interactions they had with you in a very natural and normal way in the online setting they display how your offline life is consistent with your online brand and how you are a real person, with real interactions." Coach Reed, www.reedabout.me
10. Consistency is key
"Maintain consistency online and offline. Consistency helps to reinforce the mature brand that one is trying to display. One should always display his or her personal brand statement on social networks, and reinforce this statement with professional profile photos, content, and in-person." LaTron Brown, www.linkedin.com/in/latron
11. Get yourself on the morning news shows!
"Call your local television news stations (plural!) and ask for the person who books the morning news. Ask if you can send this person an e-mail introducing yourself. If you get that opportunity, BRIEFLY (two sentences at most!) tell them what you're capable of talking about, and let them know you'd be happy to be available at the drop of a hat. Morning news shows have interview slots for members of the community--make sure that's you by communicating how you can be of service to them. Be available too; nobody is perfect, and sometimes a booked guest has to cancel. Be the person they call to fill the spot and you'll be doing a lot to make their life easier.
Pro-tip: send the planner or producer brief notes about the most popular questions people want to know about what you'll be talking about. Example: If you're a pet store owner, and your interview is on pets, list the top 10 questions you get asked, AND, type out your general answers. This gives the producer an idea of how to make the interview interesting, AND gives them an idea of how you'll answer those types of questions. If you hit the nail on the head for what the producer is looking for, you may just hear your questions being asked, verbatim!" Fritz Chaleff (Communications Director | U.S. Congressman Brian P. Bilbray) bilbray.house.gov
12. Have your own unique name online
"Be sure the name you're using is consistent across sites, especially if using social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Your name is part of your brand leverage it. For example, the first step in your own branding is to Google/Bing/Yahoo yourself and look at results. If your name is fairly common, can you create a more unique identity by using your full name / middle initial, etc.? Be cautious about using nicknames. Also, as part of researching what's already out there on the web about you, leverage the tools like recruiters use (www.whoozy.com or www.pipl.com or www.Zoominfo.com) to conduct an even more comprehensive search and explore your online presence. Posting and building an online presence can help boost your image/brand." Danielle Beauparlant Moser, blendedlearningteam.com
13. Control your tweet messages
"I love scheduling many of my Twitter messages each week in Hootsuite. It allows me to spend an hour or so each week setting up my regular tweets and Hootsuite lets me see the Stats on each tweet, and has provided hootlet which lets me tweet any web page easily. I love it!" Wanda Jewell, sibaweb.com
14. It's all about the company you keep
"Have you ever heard of "guilt by association?" Well, it works in the other direction too. One of the best ways to elevate your personal brand is by creating genuine relationship with other well-respected individuals in your industry and niche. By cultivating relationships (and emailing a person once doesn't count as a relationship), you gain a sense of credibility from the company you keep. Plus, you can also gain access to those people's fans- folks that likely overlap your target market. This is a strategy that takes time, but is worthwhile over the long haul and will not only give you the most bang for your buck, but also the most long-term credibility. Carol Roth, carolroth.com
15. Be bold and valuable
"Do something big, outrageous and valuable to your target market ." Carma Spence-Pothitt dragonwyze.com
16. Focus on where you're going
"Focus less on where you are now, and more on where you want to be a year from now, and start positioning yourself that way." Alexandra Golaszewska, eastern-star.net
17. Create an event where you're the center of attention
"In February I created the 'Song Bomb' recruiting 32 songwriters to each write a song, record it and post it on my website. I wrote, recorded and posted 32 songs myself. The rewards from this venture? All the fans of those songwriters who visited my site to hear their songs got to find out about me too. My site traffic for the month at least tripled and I have a project that I can use to bring new fans to my site for months to come. More over I strengthened my relationship with every songwriter who I brought on for the project; everyone was grateful for an catalyst to write new songs and get them out into the world." Timmy Riordan, TimmyRiordan.com
18. Write an advice booklet
"If you're a small biz owner or solo entrepreneur, you're an expert and can write advice booklets or brochures for your target market. Small booklets are easy to produce on office copiers. Design a cover and you have a wonderful, unique and valuable branding and marketing piece to pass out at conferences or mail to prospective clients. http://moonstruckpromotions.com Tammy Brackett
19. Update regularly to build your reputation
"1) Use a professional resume writer and update your resume regularly. There are degrees of professional certification -- use the best you can afford -- and repurpose their content for Linkedin and other professional profiles. 2) Ask for new recommendations for your online profile quarterly. Pull language from the quotes, "e.g. creative, thought-leader, skillful manager, etc. and create an intro paragraph for yourself that leverages the same language. Consistency in a brand builds strength. 3) Make a vow that if you offer to do something for someone else (e.g. create an introduction) do it within 24 hours after the ask. This builds a reputation for speedy, reliable assistance." Karen Howe mindbloom.com
20. BE PERSONAL with your blog
"Obviously, if you are not maintaining a blog, you should. Too many people writing niche blogs think they cannot inject their personality into their blog. They also think that every post must be laser-targeted to their niche. Don't be a robot -write in a way that let's people get to know you - that's how you elevate your personal brand." Chris Reimer, thebasemententrepreneur.com
21. Write and self-publish your own book
"As an author my tip would be SELF-PUBLISH! The big companies want to eat up your potential profits so print your own book. And don't advertise on Amazon or use a distributor who will steal your profits - create a site and push it hard. Start small, make your initial money back, and reinvest in advertisement to gain sales momentum on your product(s), keeping in mind that is not the book that is selling, its the author!" Romaine Williams, readtheblackbook.com
22. Be visible speaking in public
"I've planned to engage in at least three public speaking events in my business area because it puts me face-to-face with people I want to meet." Ford Kanzler, prsavvy.com
23. Keep it simple & unforgettable
"It's basic, but important. Keep it simple, make it unforgettable, insure it tells your story. As 'The Timeshare Crusader' and my tagline, 'Never Fear A Timeshare Salesperson Again', my brand does that."
Lisa Ann Schreier, timeshareinsights.com
24. Keep it clean
"Clean up, and use proper wording, in all of your social media. It's a great way to boost natural search traffic." Charlie Riley, skmgroup.com
25. Connect in a genuine way
"Arguably the most significant way to take your personal branding to the next level is to be genuine and participate in a thoughtful way. Self-promotion and personal brand development is always about connecting with people in a meaningful way. In the new world of social media, personal/professional transparency and real time information you simply cannot afford to be anything but genuine. Being genuine and thoughtful increases the return on all of your branding activities and without a doubt will add to personal brand value." Morgan Christian, tweetbender.com
26. Live it!
" Live it and have passion for it. Establish yourself as an expert at SOMETHING. That means you, not your company or work. And get as much press in your expertise area as you can. This will make you relevant, credible and findable. You can do this by writing something others will find helpful and pointing to it, then look for ways to guest blog it, post about it in relevant communities and network yourself with like experts. You can also respond to HARO when you're qualified to speak to it. Find as many ways as you can to be part of it. Brent Shelton, FatWallet.com
27. Be true to YOU
"When it comes to elevating your personal brand, so many people seem to fall short. The number one tip to elevating your personal brand to the next level is to be true to yourself. When you are not genuine and truly passionate about your life, career and business, it shows. Decide what values in your life are most important to you, and be sure that your whole life is centered around living those values. The best way to be successful in life and business is to be genuine to your core values." Megan Kline, megankline.com
28. Be truly accessible
"Surprise people by being overly accessible. I created the SNAC system to help kids and parents learn how to eat correctly in a way that speaks to kids. By doing this sometimes parents may have questions about a certain situation and when I call them personally, they are really surprised and thankful." Carrie Chacon, SnacCards.com
29. Have a crystal clear vision
"Elevating my personal brand has been a top focus of mine this year. The one thing that has really been most beneficial is having a crystal clear vision of what I want my brand to be and positively reaffirming it to myself daily. I have to believe in myself and believe in me as a brand before others will. This has allowed me to really be my brand." Laina Turner-Molaski, lainamolaski.com
30. Get a Facebook Fan Page
"Get a unique URL and then point all of your offline branding to this URL. So, if you do direct mail, radio, tv advertise this new URL and point people to your Facebook page - this way you can capture your audience and have the chance to market your brand to them over and over!" Lisa Johnson, Facebook.com/PropertyMatters
31. Forget competition; forge relationships
"Those offering similar value in a similar niche or field are not competitors because no one can offer exactly what you do, the way you do. Instead of fearing, fretting over, (or worse) ignoring or undermining these birds of a feather, turn them into allies and advocates for your own brand. They can sharpen your focus, they can push you toward your best, they can show you what you are lacking, their success is not your downfall but a catalyst and a sign that your niche is prospering. Show them good will (acknowledge what they do well, encourage their efforts, and even share their work with your readers/clients/supporters). You will earn the respect and admiration of your colleagues but also your supporters because you've increased their knowledge and resources. The good will youve shown and spread in these directions will come back to you." Nichelle Strzepek, danceadvantage.net
32. Be a Collector & Connector
"Cultivate relationships, for yourself and for others. Those who are able to increase their personal brand are those who see the value in surrounding themselves with people who are diverse in their skills and ambitions and then connecting those persons with others, for their mutual benefit. By cultivating these relationships and helping to connect like-minded and complimentary people you increase your reputation (brand) as a person who "knows everyone" and "gets things done". People want to be around those who make them feel good about themselves and help them accomplish their goals. Can you make people see their own worth and bring them together with others who can help them meet their goals? If yes, then you will increase your own personal brand." Nadine Owens Burton, www.owensburton.net
33. Take time to stay centered
"Spend at least 2 minutes per day in silence - "meditating" or just sitting, and breathing in more inspiration and breathing out any stress. Assigning meaning to the breath makes it more powerful and gets you more centered!" Stephanie Mansour, StepItUpwithSteph.com
34. Protect your time by delegating
"I have hired a high school and a college intern over the next 6 months to do online research and pitching for me. I don't have the time and they can do it at a very low cost rate." Abby Marks Beale, thecorporateeducator.com
35. Broadcast your message daily
"One way to elevate your personal brand at very little or no expense is consistent and daily messaging to the audience you want to reach. Ensure your web site messaging is consistent with your blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter messaging. The key here is to communicate often and with a clear and direct message." Daryl Wizelman, darylwizelman.com
36. Enhance your digital presence
"There are 2 ways to do this easily, without having a lot of knowledge in the field.
1. Subscribe to blogs that interest you and comment often. When you take the initiative to add your thoughts to an ongoing discussion, ensure that you have something insightful to say. The more you add, the more attention you receive. The more attention you receive, the more people are interested in what you have to say. This eventually leads them to your blog. *Be sure to always take the option to leave your website URL as well as your name and email address.
2. Offer to guest post. Social networking is currency in the digital world. The only way to gain "digital cred" is to make sure that you are very visible and adding something to the medium. If you are launching a business or are a niche blogger, be sure to reach out to folks in your field. Write a post and send it over with your credentials. More often than not, bloggers and professionals are all to happy to introduce you to their communities if you have something useful to say." Tiffany Hill Thompson
37. Surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy and who inspire you.
"I'm particularly drawn to other people who love their work and are ambitious enough to keep moving forward in life. Choose those with ethical codes similar to yours, for example: emphasizing quality in their work, aiming for sustainability, and looking to improve the industry rather than to make a quick buck before getting out." Colin Wright, exilelifestyle.com
38. Engage ferociously
"Embrace, be fiercely active, engage on social media & build genuine relationships with successful entrepreneurs." Ros Guerrero, Ficklets.com
39. Determine how you want to be perceived.
"Figure out how you want other people to think of you. Then consistently and constantly act in a manner that will get them to think that way." Bud Bilanich, CareerSuccess.mypodcast.com
40. Expand your visibility everywhere you can
"I am elevating my brand in 2010 by subscribing to HARO and ReporterConnection.com and pitching every appropriate request that is presented. Taking just 15-20 minutes/day to carefully review the listings and responding wherever there is a good fit. I've been doing this for just one month and have already gotten 4 responses (1) Included in a St. Patricks Day Gift guide on a website with millions of visitors per month (2) Radio Interview scheduled for April 5th (3) Radio and Weblog - gift guide plug all of May and (4) Tying in a custom song with a double date for another Radio show. I fully believe if I continue doing this religiously day after day, week after week my brand will increase greatly in popularity and value." Vincent James, LoveSongs.com
41. Know your stakeholders
"Know who your stakeholders are, what they need, what they're interested in, and how you can make a difference. Genuinely engage your stakeholders in conversation. Ask questions that matter. Offer insight that is fresh by doing your homework. Dont be phony. Participate in conversations. Read blogs. Write a blog. Follow people and organizations who you think are interesting; maybe theyll follow you back. Comment on their work. Make a contribution that will add value to your brand." Christopher R. Groscurth, Ph.D., drgroscurth.com
42. Be strategic in getting attention
"I exploded my personal brand into a Resume Magazine called SEEKERS. I printed a bunch and have circulated them among employers. They loved it. I also created personal bookmarkers, tassel and all, to have employers bookmark my website and invited them to go visit. I also developed a postcard as a direct mail piece and sent it to employers. The resume is dead. My strategy is getting attention." Gina Marie Mangiamele, ginamarie.biz.
43. Create a video resume
"We created a video resume to help marketing professionals elevate their personal brand. This is a compelling and engaging way to reach targeted audiences - prospective employers, clients or partners. The response has been tremendous!" Tara Greco, blackscreenstudios.com
44. Do great work
"Do a really great job on a client's case, so you can truly believe in what you do. It gives you the confidence to elevate your brand." Jay Weinberg, Esq., www.jayweinberg.com.
45. Seriously use video online!
"To personalize your brand, include a different You-Tube video on each page of your website. WHY: In order for potential clients to connect with us personally, we put a U-Tube video on each page of our website. Since doing that, our website has come to life and has cemented us at the center of the brand. This use of three-dimensional media not only enables audiences to listen to information about Success Trek, but it also allows them to tap into the energy, voice and look of the presenter who someday might be leading their focus groups, retreats or trainings." Theresa Valade, SUCCESS-TREK.COM
46. Really do things differently than anyone else
"We have elevated our business through cafes. We started our business as a group of freelancers in cafes... a lot of our business came from the people we would meet in the cafes. Now we are a full-service agency and cafe agency with our own studio in chicago. We attract several clients since the front half of our studio is a Doejo cafe. Doing things different than the average business and standing out is the key to elevating our business." Karley Hall, http://doejo.com
47. Hone in on your core values
I recommend sitting down and thinking through your core values. Too many of us know the values we were brought up with ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," "Money doesn't grow on trees" etc) but few of us have thought through what we really stand for. Company's have mission statements that include their core values-- each of us must as well. Do you prize responsiveness? reliability? flexibility? creativity? attention to detail? punctuality? clarity? brevity? Spell it out for yourself, then embody it in all you do, say, write." Frances Cole Jones, thewowfactor-thebook.com
48. Be REALLY effective on Twitter!
"Google’s real time search has changed the way the search engine finds tweets. Now, tweets must include keywords that your clients, prospects and press use to find information about products, services and businesses. For these reasons make sure you: run a Google keyword report on search trends and use these keywords in your tweets; use Trendistic.com – A Twitter application that allows you to search for what’s trending on Twitter; review Twitter trends daily and incorporate these trending keywords and phrases into your Tweets as long as they are relevant to your target audience, otherwise it’s spam! Use #hashtags to #SEO your message via Twitter so you can be discovered; use simple language that offers advice, how to’s and important information that is Google-friendly to real time search." Valerie Jennings, jenningssocialmedia.com
49. Talk about the benefit you provide instead of what you DO
"Is what you do for a living perceived by potential customers as being a mere commodity; more or less the same as others in your profession? The good news is you can change customer perceptions by changing the way you describe what you do. Rather than describing yourself in terms of a generic label, you can instead refer to the ultimate benefit that you deliver, inviting them into the conversation. Bottom line: next time you need to set yourself apart from the competition – beyond just lowering prices – try changing the way you talk about what you do for a living." Jeff Mowatt, JeffMowatt.com
And, last but equally as important...
50. Observe your A, B, C's!
"You are your own best walking advertisement, your own walking billboard. When you “show up” anywhere, you are both the message and the messenger for your brand. Align your physical image with your brand image and you’ll see -- people will hear you, see you and “buy” you much more quickly, more easily. Accentuate your best assets,Balance your message from the inside out and head-to-toe, and Camouflage anything your adoring public does not need to know. It’s as easy as A, B, C!" Lauren Solomon, LSimage.com
Thank you to the inspiring people who contributed here!
By applying these principles, utilizing these tips and incorporating these techniques into your branding blueprint and marketing plan, it would be close to impossible NOT to succeed in 2010.
Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog owner & curator. Cindy is a Career Architect, helping people build careers they love. She guides clients through personal branding, career reinvention, leadership & executive coaching and how to own the room. Cindy is also a writer for hire, screenwriter & author.