Everything is about branding today. Whether you are in the corporate world, whether you are an entrepreneur or whether you're just looking for a job, you need to establish your image online. If I bump into you at an event, I will first judge you by the way you dress, hold yourself and speak to determine whether you are somebody I would like to work with. Similarly, the first thing your potential clients, investors and employers do when you approach them is Google you. If you don't have a solid online presence and brand, it's no big deal. We'll just walk on by and talk to the more attractive person behind you. However, if you play it right online, your attractiveness skyrockets. I call it the six pack of business. Who doesn't appreciate some nice abs? It's time to start working out on yours.
These are the first six sites (not necessarily in this order) that should pop up when I Google your name or business:
1. Website / Blog
This is essentially the "ABOUT ME" section of your online presence. I should be able to find out who you are, what you do and what value you have to offer; that is how you differentiate from the thousands of others vying for my money. You need to be blunt and clear in your messaging. Chuck out the fluffy, fancy words. The messaging relates not only to the words I read, but to the site's design as well. Slick your abs up with a bit of oil.
A website and blog also gives you the opportunity to cement yourself as a thought leader in your field. You can (and should) do this casually in the other mediums below but a website and blog allows you to connect on a deeper level with your audience. You should be doing this consistently to remain relevant, at minimum once per month.
Most people treat LinkedIn as a place to upload their resume, however you shouldn't treat it purely as a summary of your work experience. There is so much potential to build relationships with other professionals on LinkedIn. Give them a reason to connect with you. What is your UVP (unique value proposition)? Let others gain some insight into who you are through your page by adding detail, from your picture, to your summary and your interests. Don't be shy. Be proactive. Connect with others who you find interesting.
Contrary to what you might think, Twitter is not just the place where everyone goes to write about what they had for breakfast. It's great for casually keeping everyone in the loop and keeping in the loop yourself. It's great for sharing interesting content, promoting your own content and connecting with your audience on a personal level. You don't need to be a celebrity to have an audience and if you want to maximise your potential or your business', an audience is something you want to be building across all the mediums mentioned here.
Facebook is not just for connecting with your old high school and university friends. Whether you have a business or not, you should maximise the potential of Facebook branding. This is less conversational than Twitter but as valuable for connecting on a personal level with your audience. People want to work with people and businesses they like and bond with. That is why I have emphasised connecting on a personal level. There is no reason to stay on your high horse and purely share content that is professional and business related on Facebook. It is important not to take this advice too liberally, however. You still have a brand and image to uphold.
Establishing an online brand an audience is hard for businesses. Where do you start? How do you establish yourself as a thought leader if there is no one reading your material. SavvySME is a great place to start the ball rolling. You have thousands of other professionals and business owners looking for advice right now. Whether it is by answering questions, writing articles or commenting on others, if you do so well, you will build a following. Ultimately, that's what we all want right? A following, an audience, whatever you would like to call it.
6. Tying it all together
It's as simple as I've written. Tie all of the above together. Leverage one off the other. You start with your personal Facebook and LinkedIn account. Bring your connections from those networks to SavvySME. Grow your following on SavvySME and then bring them to your own website and Twitter account. Grow your following on those sites and feed it back into Facebook and LinkedIn, and then onto SavvySME and so on and so forth.
We all start somewhere. You won't get a six pack from the get go. It will take a lot of work. Be patient and be diligent. Before you know it, you will have thousands upon thousands in your audience online. When your potential clients, investors and employers Google you or your business' name, they'll see that and they will love it. At the end of the day, we all want to be, or be friends with the popular jock at school.