There are many different techniques that can contribute to a personal branding campaign, but I’m only going to touch on the triad that works well for a professional practitioner, such as a consultant. The primary considerations are recognition, authority and reputation, with all three being heavily interlaced.
There’s a slew of different channels that can be used for recognition. The main idea is to get your name out there (obviously, in a positive light), in front of the right people. Social media is certainly one area that can be put to good use, but it shouldn’t be the primary, and it definitely shouldn’t be used solely as a channel for self-promotion.
Social media is better used for… are you ready for this… being social. In other words, interact, build relationships, network. It’s a great place to show your areas of interest, but you’ll find that promoting relevant content from others will generally yield better results than promoting your own.
Some great channels for getting in front of the right people are groups that are focused in your specific topical area. LinkedIn and Facebook have the ability to launch or join topical groups or communities, and for many, they’re an excellent place to establish your credibility.
Quora is another good venue for doing so. In all of them, you’ll get the best results by providing thoughtful, valuable input to questions asked by others. Resist the temptation to promote your own content. You may also find Medium is a good place to publish articles on topics about which you’re knowledgeable.
By interacting with other experts and sharing your knowledge with people seeking answers or opinions, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Keep an open mind and don’t take it personally if people disagree with you. Just explain your point of view in a reasonable fashion and explain why you hold your opinion. Acknowledge that it’s just your opinion, but back it up with factual data when possible… and welcome a civil discussion of different viewpoints. Most readers will respect that.
If you’ve participated in any experiments or studies that support your opinion, by all means, share them. If you’ve read of studies by others. you can offer those as well. The key is to present a cogent argument… you may not convince others to share your take on a particular issue, but you can at least convince them that you’re capable of a civil, open-minded discussion and that you have knowledge of the topic. Remember that your discussion’s success will almost always be based upon the perceptions of bystanders, rather than those of the person with whom you’re having the discussion.
Over time, this will help broaden your network and as others interact with and cite your comments, other members of the community – and sometimes, the search engines, as well – will begin to connect you with the topic. That connection will strengthen your ties to the subject, which could eventually result in your name appearing in the search results when people are researching the topic.
If your knowledge is sufficient, you may even consider authoring articles for some of the online trade publications in your industry. That can give you a boost, too.
Reputation is a somewhat cloudy thing… it can have either negative or positive connotations, and a solid reputation is much more easily harmed than restored. A reputation as one of the foremost experts or as a thought leader can be very beneficial, but if you also have a reputation of being condescending or insulting, you’ll probably find that negative aspect overriding the positives.
I won’t go into reputation management in detail here. Just be aware that it typically takes many good impressions to overcome one bad one. So it’s in your best interest to leave as many positive impressions as possible, even if you have no existing negative reputation issues. One poorly thought out Tweet can result in an inadvertent slight that can get blown out of proportion overnight. If you have built a strong, positive reputation beforehand, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that many people will give you “the benefit of the doubt” or even speak out in your defense.
By establishing a reputation of being knowledgeable, open-minded, and polite, you can reap the benefits of both recognition and authority. Attending well to all three will have your personal brand on its way!