Building Your Personal Brand Online

by Sherryl Perry on November 4, 2013

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Last week, I published the guest post Managing the Reputation of Your Business by Kevin Anderson. One of Kevin’s recommendation is to brand yourself in addition to branding your business. Some of his suggestions are guest blogging and participating on social media sites. I agree that participating on social media sites and commenting on blogs can be a critical part of your brand/reputation. How can we mix personal and business? Is it possible to mix the two? Do you have a strategy for sharing personal information online?

Your Digital Footprints:

Back in the day when I used to do a lot of face-to-face networking, I was a member of BNI, an international business networking group. One of the things that I heard repeatedly was that everything we do is either a relationship builder or a relationship destroyer. That applies to meeting (or exceeding) expectations and the way we present ourselves. I like to think of every comment and post that we make as being our digital footprints.

Your Blogging Voice:

I’ve shared this story before but for those of you who haven’t heard it, when I first started blogging, I tried to learn from “successful” business bloggers. The way I determined success was by their social proof including Alexa ranking, followers and whether or not they were recommended by other well-known and respected bloggers. One of the female bloggers who I followed had a unique writing style including liberally using profanity. I didn’t understand why she did this at the time but in spite of the language, I followed her and learned from her.

After a while of imlementing my “Stalking the Popular Kids” strategy, I reached the point where I was connected to many well respected authorities and I no longer felt that I needed to learn from her. (The truth is that her newsletters and blog made me feel uncomfortable.) So, I unsubscribed from her updates and never visited her site again. That was until today when I decided to see what she’s been up to. Her website has changed and her product offerings have expanded but I couldn’t find one objectionable word on her site or in her Twitter stream. So, she may have changed her style.

Google Vanity URLs

One other way to promote your brand is to take advantage of Google’s new vanity URLs for Google+. Recently Google announced that they are rolling out this feature to users. Login to your Google+ account and you may have a notification from Google about claiming your URL. If you don’t see a notification, click on your “About” page and hopefully you’ll see a button that says “Get URL”. If not, you will have to wait until it’s available to you.

Some people have had to wait for approval from Google but I was one of the lucky ones who received confirmation almost immediately. All I had to do was enter the verification code that was sent to my mobile phone. If you’re looking for an easy to follow post on setting up your Google+ URL, check out Claiming and Setting Up Your Official Gogle+ Vanity URL by Kimberly Castleberry on Just-Ask-Kim.com.

Over to You:

What are your thoughts? Are you developing your personal brand? Do you have tips to share on keeping part of your online life personal or do you mix the two? We’d love to hear from you.

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John
Twitter:
September 17, 2015 at 10:24 am

Your personal brand can be a huge benefit. As mentioned in a comment a personal web site is very useful, even if it is simple. I have a web site with my name that links to my other web sites and includes information on me.

I have written about building your personal brand online, including

management.curiouscatblog.net/2013/07/17/your-online-presence-and-social-network-for-managers/
John recently posted..Motivation and Delivering Solutions When You Work for YourselfMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
September 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Hi John,
Having a personal website to brand yourself is an excellent suggestion. Thanks for mentioning it.

Since I’m always honest here, I’ll be the first to admit that I own my own domain name but I’ve always simply redirected it here. I also have a second Twitter account under my name and I rarely use it. I’m glad you got me thinking about this again.

It’s always nice to see you here. Thanks for dropping by and joining the conversation.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do You Want to Consolidate Multiple Websites?My Profile

Shiv Saroya
Twitter:
December 9, 2013 at 6:53 am

All good stuff here. I would add that creating a Facebook page would be wise, in the appropriate circumstances. Certainly if you run a blog or a website a Facebook page would be in order.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Shiv,
I agree that having a Facebook page is wise. Actually, I promote securing your user ID on all of the major social networking sites and creating your profile. I agree with other bloggers that we can’t be everywhere and that we need to concentrate on a manageable number of sites but on the other hand, we do not want someone else creating a site using our user ID. We need to manage our online reputations.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Building Your Personal Brand OnlineMy Profile

Gilbert Samuel
Twitter:
November 12, 2013 at 1:42 am

Hi Sherryl,

I’m also as lucky as you, i got a notification almost immediately. Another tip about building a personal brand, don’t just depend on one domain name. Create a domain name with your personal name before someone else does. I’ve created mine “gilbertsamuel dot com” but haven’t started using it, it’s just parked there but this is one of the tips that made people like John Chow successful. What do you think?
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Gilbert,
Securing a domain name with your personal name is a great tip. I confess that I have had mine for years and I don’t use it either. I’ve seen some wonderful examples where people have used the site with their domain name as a hub with links to other sites that they own. I also like the idea of creating a one-page site on that domain.

Thanks for the reminder. I honestly have no excuse for not creating something even if it’s bare bones with links to my social media profiles and my blog. That’s going to be one of my goals for 2014!
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Trevor Schain
Twitter:
November 12, 2013 at 1:06 am

We’re so excited about Google’s new vanity URLs. It took long enough, but now that it’s here, businesses need to jump on this. Many other social networking sites have already had this, but there is no other social networking site so imperative to your SEO and Brand as Google+. Another hint, make sure to utilize the bio area on your G+ page for linking keywords, it’s one of the sites Bing crawls and uses as an inbound link to your site.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Thanks for the hint Trevor. It’s so important to update the bio areas of our social media profiles and it’s especially important in Google+.

BTW, I apologize for not replying to your comment earlier. Somehow, I’ve missed the comments to this post.
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Catarina
Twitter:
November 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

Great idea to get a Google+ vanity page, Sherryl. Just did. Only need one since I use my name both for business and privately.

Keeping your online footprint clean is essential. Simply cannot understand people who insult others and prove themselves at other people’s expense. Don’t they understand that search engines record everything and forget nothing? And the odd thing is that it’s done by educated people who hold senior positions or have their own company. Why would anyone want to do business with them after being insulted?
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I’m glad to hear that you were able to secure your Google+ vanity URL Catarina. I only secured my name also. I’ve branded the keepupweb ID too but I really don’t want to create another page and then spread my efforts across the two. I think that I’m better off reinforcing my name as my brand.

I don’t understand people who are insulting and confrontational online. Since most people prefer to do business with people that they like, why would anyone present themselves in that manner?

silviu
Twitter:
November 9, 2013 at 5:12 am

Hi Sherryl,

On the one hand what you do online stays online (partially true) and yes, it may be called your “digital footprints”.

On the other hand the idea that everything you write, post, create etc online may someday return to haunt you is strange. It is the product of a particular culture that relies heavily on social proof. Social proof seen as a good, reliable criterion to identify value.

In these days when you know social proof can be faked (followers can be bought, likes can be bought, comments can be arranged or exchanged etc.) social proof is not so important as it was and I think it must be reconsidered. What social proof really is? Or what is real social proof?

Let’s take the following example. Imagine a hospital with two surgeons. One – George- spend most of his time with meetings, conferences, debates, events of all kind, socializing etc. As a result it gets a lot of social proof and everybody knows him. Unfortunately, all this running for social proof leaves him little time for the surgery room and it “performs” a low number of surgical operations.

Even worse, his knowledge and training becomes more and more out of date and he is able now to perform only simple or medium level of surgical operations. People don’t know this trivial detail.

The other surgeon – Harry – hates talking to people, hates conferences, meetings, socialization etc. He spends most of his time in the library studying the latest developments in surgery and in the surgery room, of course. As a result he is able to perform high level surgical operations and saves people’s lives. However, people know very little about him. He has no social proof.

What happened when an extremely ill patient comes to the hospital and desperately needs a complex surgical operation? He has two options : George (social proof) and Harry (real expert). If he chooses social proof, he dies. If he chooses the real expert, he lives.

There is a similarity in the online world, too. If your main criteria for value is social proof, you will waste time, resources and finally die. If your main criteria is value and you are looking for real experts to teach you how to do business, you will thrive and succeed.
I know this is a controversial topic and I want to know your opinion about it.

Have a wonderful weekend
silviu recently posted..How to Celebrate Success in Times of TroubleMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi Silviu,
You’ve presented us with an interesting scenario. I think social proof can exist without coming directly from the surgeon. For example, if Harry doesn’t even know that social medias exists, that wouldn’t mean that he shouldn’t acknowledge it by outsourcing that function to someone to handle for him. Harry may have a wonderful reputation through testimonials and referrals but there’s no question that he could expand that reach through social media and networking.

As always, thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

Keyanna November 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Great post! I think the ability to keep personal and business pages as one is a great way to show people who you are. One of the biggest reasons that a lot of us get into business for is to express ourselves and exploit our creative abilities and talents.. The more authentic you are, the more people will respect you and therefore follow you.. 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Keyanna,
Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed my post. I agree with you totally about being authentic. As we all know, most people like to do business with people who they like and trust. Authenticity and professionalism are key ingredients to that.

Thanks so much for dropping by and taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
November 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Sherryl — I accepted Google+’s suggestion for my url, too. It’s my name so that’s fine. When you’re a solo entrepreneur like I am your personal and business identities are inextricably intertwined. I have both a personal and business page on Facebook, not my primary social network.

But when G+ first started they didn’t have business page so I established my personal page. I decided not to create a business page when they became available. I’m as well known by my person name as by my company name and G+ wouldn’t allow you to move your content over to your business page. Should I have a company page too? Who knows. I live in NYC and most of my business still comes from referrals and my circle of business connections. So being out there to mix with people in person is important. Social media is validation.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

Hi Jeannette,
Google’s suggestion for me was my name also and I quickly accepted it. I’ve branded my “keepupweb” Twitter ID but I’ve worked hard to be recognized as the person behind it.

Thanks for sharing your strategy on business pages. I have both a personal and business page on FB too but I’m mainly active on my personal page. Thanks to FB’s focus on promoted posts, what I share on my business page gets a fraction of the views that the same same share would get on my personal page. (Most people don’t even see a lot of what gets posted to my business page.)

I haven’t created a G+ business page either and I’m not sure that I will. As you say, social media is validation. My concern is that if I introduced another G+ page that I would be splitting my time and energy at the risk of not engaging as well as I do now.

As always, thanks so much for dropping by and joining in the conversation.
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Jeevan Jacob John
Twitter:
November 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hey Sherryl,

Well, I am trying to develop my personal brand (and, so far I am doing great with my goals :D).

As for determining success, I use two factors: comments and design. I don’t try to judge the blogs via content. Because so many posts I read online are about things I already know (but, that’s okay. Not everyone would those things, plus most of the consistent bloggers try their best to bring something new into the table).

I have setup the vanity URL – took me a few minutes to do it (I missed the notification the first time).

Hope you are having a good week!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hi Jeevan,
I’m certainly aware of your personal brand and I’m sure many other readers here will recognize you as well. (Being an active member of the blogging community plays a strong role in that.)

I agree with you that both comments and design play strong roles in the success of a website. A well designed site makes it easier for readers to comment, share your content and connect with you online and an active comment section (with an engaged community) fosters an environment where people want to come back and visit.

There is a lot of rehashed content but as you say, some people are new to blogging whereas experienced bloggers may already know the content. I think that’s why it’s important to encourage readers to share their experiences in the comments, We can all learn something from each other.

I hope you had a good week too and I apologize for being so late replying to you.

Jeevan Jacob John
Twitter:
November 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Indeed 🙂 All thanks to all the bloggers like Adrienne (with my first blog, I relied solely on methods such guest posting for my traffic. I wasn’t an active blog commentator. Sure, I used to comment, but only on blogs that I guest post).

Indeed 🙂

No problem, Sherryl 😀 Hope you had a great weekend!

Babanature November 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hello Sherryl,
Ahh… the Google custom url? I did get notification on my blog page immediately it was rolled out but up till now i haven’t gotten any notification on my personal profile.
To me, i’ll say personal and professional brand should go hand in hand if you want to go even further…

Thanks for sharing this lovely article with us. do have a wonderful week ahead 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hi Babanature,
I hope you’re received notification from them on your personal profile. I agree with you about our personal and professional brands going hand in hand. We are our brand.

Thanks for dropping by!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Managing the Reputation of Your BusinessMy Profile

Maxwell ivey
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Hello; I agree with you that keeping your online footprints clean so to speak is important to the long term success of your business. For this reason I don’t post status updates of a political nature or comment on posts that I believe to be dangerously confrontational. If I do make personal posts, then they are always positive in nature and written to avoid offending anyone as much as it is possible to do that. I feel that some subjects should be best discussed among true friends by phone or email instead. And speaking of maintaining your brand is it possible that you could do a post or refer me to someone else’s post on how to copy write or trade mark a site using word press. Thanks again for your post and take care, max
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Hi Maxwell,
Your social strategy seems to be on the same lines as mine. I keep politics and anything personal offline myself. As for trademarking, I recently read a really interesting post on trademarking. I can’ remember right now who wrote it but when I get a chance, I’ll search for it and send the link to you through LinkedIn.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and you take care too!

Susan Cooper
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I have yet to create a vanity url but it is something I know I need to get on. I fin it important that you need to keep your personal and professional identities somewhat separate. 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Your name is fairly common Susan. So, I wish you luck securing it on Google+.

I think the lines between personal and professional identities can get somewhat blurred but that’s not necessarily a bad thing to me. Everyone likes to do business with people who they like and trust. Sharing personal experiences and anecdotes can make us more relatable. I know that I have got to know many of the bloggers who I connect with on a personal level and I count many of them as friends (including you). 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

Diana
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

Nice post and a reminder, Sherryl!

I too had immediate approval of my Google+ vanity url – actually, they said to me ‘this is what we have reserved for you – if you like it, it’s yours, now. if you don’t like it – change it and you will hear back from us’ – so maybe those who are waiting approval requested a change of the reserved for them vanity url? nonetheless – good thing G+ now have normally looking urls for profiles 🙂

to your questions – i try to keep somewhat separate my personal and professional online properties (e.g. i have FB profile for friends but for my blogs i use pages and never my profile – that kind of separation :D). However, one important piece of advice which many (and i really mean MANY) bloggers oversee – be yourself. If you are building your personal brand, you simply cannot afford to give false information or to pretend to be someone who you are not. Be yourself. Period. Then everything will fall into its place 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Maybe that is why people are waiting for approval Diana. I accepted Google’s suggestion too. I agree with your advice to be yourself. I do mix some personal as well as sharing blog posts on my personal Facebook account. A lot of the people who I’m connected to on FB are past co-workers and professional connections. A lot of them have thanked me for sharing work related info because many are trying to learn to use the Internet to promote themselves or their business. It’s a fine line but I’m not the type of person to share too much personal information anyways. I always want to project an image of professionalism. On the other hand, I can’t resist sharing an occasional picture of my granddaughter but being a grandmother is part of who I am too. 🙂

Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us!

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