How to Build a Successful Personal Brand

by Michelle McGinnis on Friday, June 29, 2012 in Digital Marketing

Not long ago, Dave Cutler faced a nerve-wracking experience too many others can relate to: he got laid off.

Rather than get spooked, though, he set his sights on starting a new chapter in his career – namely in social media. But he knew if he wanted to stand out from the crowd, he needed to build a name for himself – a personal brand.

So Dave set out on a personal branding campaign, using online and offline tactics to network, demonstrate his expertise and show the value his own brand could bring to potential employers. It led to features in newspapers like The Boston Globe and interviews on TV and radio.

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It also led to a job at TIBCO Spotfire, and to him writing the Grande Guide to Personal Branding, which we released for free download today. Dave took sometime out to share his personal branding tips.

Professional Development
Too often, people think of personal branding as just advertising. In reality, it’s about delivering your knowledge to the marketplace. To do that well, you need to continue developing your skills, knowledge and network.

I digested as much content as I could on social media. I subscribed to blogs, downloaded ebooks, crowdsourced a reading list for books and attended as many events as possible in my region. I also did a mini MBA at Rutgers in social media marketing. These are important steps for staying on top of trends and skills, but also critical for networking.

Stay On Top of It
One of the most important tenets of personal branding is consistency. It’s not enough to write one great blog post or an awesome app. You have to sustain a persistent product.

I started by finding which channels were most important to my efforts, then made sure I stayed consistent. I used Twitter a lot, and always made sure to stay active on it. I was vigilant in listening online as well, looking for new connections and opportunities.

Be a Content Creator
This was a major transition for me. Early on I used social to identify key voices in the field, and share their content with others. I subscribed to their blogs. Then I started commenting. That led to me creating my own content.

Content creation allows you to build a network by sharing your expertise and analysis. This is not only valuable to employers because it shows you’re on top of industry trends and can implement fresh ideas, but also because the brand is also buying into your brand’s network and reputation.

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
I didn’t want to just about social media, I wanted to show I could use it. I created a Dave Cutler app, aggregating all my content in one place. I also created a venue on Foursquare specifically tied to my job search. Many people on Twitter may not have known I was on the hunt. Checking into Foursquare was a way of raising that flag.

Bottom line: The best way to demonstrate your skills and expertise is to put them into practice.

Prep for Exposure
Thankfully, my story was picked up by the mainstream media. First The Boston Globe ran a feature. That sparked even more opportunities. But just like any job interview, I didn’t go into these interviews blind. I made sure to run over the messages I wanted to get across. I also reached out to people in the PR world for advice.

If you’re successful, then some level of notoriety might come your way. Make sure you prep for each opportunity.

Dave shares his story and his tips in greater detail in the Grande Guide to Personal Branding, which you can access below.

Do you have a personal branding story? Tell us about it.


 

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