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U R What U Tweet: 5 Steps To A Better Personal Brand

If you take a look at the top 10 Twitter users you’ll see a list of famous men and women who have used the popular platform to further expand their personal brands. Perhaps more interesting, however, is how everyday people are investing more time and energy into social networking for professional purposes.

U R What U Tweet: 5 Steps To A Better Personal Brand

If you take a look at the top 10 Twitter users you’ll see a list of famous men and women, from Justin Bieber to Selena Gomez, who have
used the popular platform to further expand their personal brands.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is how everyday people are
investing more time and energy into social networking for professional
purposes.

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Just over a year ago, a local 16-year-old high school student emailed
me out of the blue, proposing that he join me as a guest on a TV show
I host. Winston Sih didn’t send along a resume, but instead included
links to his website, Twitter account,
Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. While there are
plenty of examples of teens jeopardizing their digital reputation,
with bullying and threats on friends’ walls or late-night “I hate my
job” tweets, Sih is a perfect example of someone who has learned how
to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive
personal brand before he even reaches his adult years (12 months into
his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech
TV expert
and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet).

While few of us will ever have the celebrity factor to drive our
online networks (or a PR spin team to protect us if we post something
stupid), there is a lot we can learn from Sih and other
personal brand-builders. In 2012, if you have a plan in place, smart
social networking is the key to taking control of your professional
life. Here are 5 steps to building a better personal brand online.

1. Have a home base online.  While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are
excellent destinations to promote what you do, make sure that you also
invest time and energy into your own personal website. Whether you
take advantage of easy-to-use tools such as Squarespace or WordPress,
a simple and clean online home for all your professional information
and social streams is a necessity. Not only is it critical to build
this home base, but it’s also important to drive traffic back to this
site to further educate visitors about what you do (or want to do) for
a living. Finally, use a professional headshot on your site to give
you that competitive edge (sorry–a cropped Facebook photo just won’t do!).

2. Be a better blogger.  Although online pundits regularly declare
that blogging is dead, such as Jason Calacanis did at a tech
conference toward the end of December, blogging has simply become
much more diverse. It’s no longer necessary to write multi-paragraph
posts, but instead services such as Tumblr make it easy for
individuals to share shorter entries or snippets of text that often
include photos and other multimedia. A weekly blog update (or more
frequent if you can afford the time) that includes some shareable
content is a useful way to drive traffic back from social channels to
your website (and to establish yourself as an expert on a topic).

3. Avoid mobile mistakes.  In April 2009, we often referred to Ashton
Kutcher
as the King of Twitter. This past November, the actor posted
a tweet defending Penn State’s Joe Paterno (without realizing the sex
abuse controversy surrounding the coach) that inspired a “hailstorm of
responses” from Kutcher’s many followers. Once again, this was an
example of how 140 characters or less can immediately damage someone’s
reputation. Moreover, with more people posting from mobile phones,
it’s far too easy to make a real-time mistake like this–whether it’s
updating your status with an inappropriate comment or letting
auto-correct do some digital damage. In other words, when networking
on the go make sure you carefully review what you’re about to push
live or, perhaps a better idea, wait until you have a few minutes to
review the update without so many mobile distractions.

4. Never stop networking.  For non-celebrities who build themselves
into well-known brands online, take a look at how frequently they
interact. For example, social media author Scott Stratten has tweeted more than 80,000 times. If he’s not
sharing digital wisdom across his many online channels, he’s
responding to messages and reaching out to people to keep the web
conversation going. If you don’t know where to start, whether it’s on
LinkedIn or Twitter, find five new people to follow or connect with
every day. Make an effort to share something these people have posted
or, a simple task, reach out and say hello.

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5. Adopt new services.  When it comes to personal branding, there is
a lot of emphasis on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but there are
plenty of other channels to tell your story. Take a look at how well
author Timothy Ferriss has used short YouTube videos to promote his
4-Hour mantra and other activities. Google+ is a solid new
service for building a personal brand and apps, such as Path, will
also allow you to network with people you care about connecting with
on a professional level (keep in mind that the latter has a 150-friend
limit). While it’s not critical to jump on every newly launched
service, it can help to choose two or three of the most popular
services and then every few months try a new platform on for size.

Read more from the Work Flow series

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[Image: Flickr user Joshua Hoffman]

About the author

Amber Mac is a bestselling author, TV host, speaker, and strategist. She has worked as a technology TV host with tech guru Leo Laporte on G4TechTV and currently co-hosts a popular show on Laporte's TWiT.tv network.

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