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Personal Branding: How Are You Differentiating Yourself?

The idea of personal branding may not be new, in fact it can be traced back to the 1980s when it was introduced by Al Reis and Jack Trout in “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind.” Despite how you may feel about personal branding, social media has made it a part of our fabric. Not only is it important to be a part of the conversation, it’s also imperative to be consistent, relevant and distinguished.

Whether you post personally or professionally, you are establishing a voice for yourself and your audience will come to rely your tone, quality of posts and style. Why does this matter? You are building a brand that potential employers, clients, members of the media and your audience is watching and can reference at any time. You have an opportunity to build a greater audience, set yourself apart and develop more meaningful relationships.

So how do you ensure you put your best foot forward?

  • Become an invaluable asset – build your network and continually provide them with resources and information they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Find your niche and spread the word – what do you do particularly well? What are you passionate about? Use a blog and your social networks to position yourself as the go-to-person for a specific skill.
  • Build equity – create consistency and post regularly. How often do you engage your audience? Do you have a signature blog post or style that keeps them engaged?
  • Build your database through layers – as you generate more content, be sure you hitting on multiple touch points: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, email, etc. As you build your networks in these individual platforms, be sure to integrate them. Find people in your email database that may also have social networking accounts.
  • Be visible. Be remarkable. Be everywhere.

Michele Laudig, food editor at the Phoenix New Times and blogger at Chow Bella, has used social media to help develop her voice, and inherently build her “brand.” She also recently added another layer when she began posting her popular “What I Ate” depictions…yet another differentiator. Here is Michele’s take on the issue:

Q. Has social media helped you build your personal brand and Chow Bella’s? If so, how?

A. As a writer, I don’t think so much about my “personal brand” as much as my “voice.” And social media, especially Twitter, is just other place to express my voice. But it’s also been a fun way to interact with readers and people who are interested in restaurants, and it’s been useful for share links to the blog. I like having instantaneous feedback, and I like the community feeling. Twitter is like one big digital cocktail party.

Q. How do you think it has helped you carve out your niche?

A. I think I carved out my niche back when I first started doing the blog a few years ago. Social media has helped bring attention to something I was already doing by giving me a way to immediately reach people who want to know about breaking news, or who are curious about random dish I decided to sketch. So much content goes up on the blog every day that it has been a way to pick and choose what I want to personally emphasize.

Q. Has building your and Chow Bella’s brand helped increase awareness for Phoenix New Times?

A. I’m sure it must — at this point, they are probably one and the same because I don’t write for anyone else in town, and I use social media under the auspices of being the paper’s restaurant critic and resident food geek.


Q. It seems the “What I Ate” drawings have provided your followers another way to share your brand, did you anticipate them serving this purpose?


A. When I think about my “brand” in this context, it boils down to my personality. These drawings are just a funny thing I do, and I’m happy to share them. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I started doing “What I Ate.”

Q. Have social networks (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) helped build more interaction with readers or sparked more comments on blog posts?

A. Social networks definitely have helped build more interaction — it’s another forum for feedback, ideas, and even just socializing in the virtual world. And I do think that when I post a link to something from the blog on Twitter, it does get more comments.

Resources:

1. “10 Ways Personal Branding Can Save You From Getting Fired”
2. “Personal Branding 102: How to Communicate & Maintain Your Brand”
3. ‘Top 10 Free Tools for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation”

Question of the week:
What are you doing to create a need for your brand?

For more tips and tools check out JetPack Radio.

Enclosures: MP3, M4V

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