Do you know who you are? Google knows who you are, or does it?

Do you know who you are? This is a really important question in today’s digital economy.

I was gathering information on this when I came across a useful tool called Brandyourself.com. It was invented by Peter Kistler, a university graduate whose motivation to invent the tool came when a standard Google search of his name completely messed up his chances of an internship at Microsoft.

The company killed his chances when they saw links to stories about another Peter Kistler who happened to be a drug dealer and convicted sex offender. Brandyourself is a good tool to put your personal brand and search results into your own hands. It helps you to manage and optimise your online presence without any technical know how.

So if you can get the basics right and use a tool like Brandyourself, you can quickly and efficiently build and control your personal brand.

The Basics

Who are you?

A really good investment is Dan Schawbel’s book Discover Your Brand. Dan recommends doing a “personal and brand discovery” to see what is being said about you and to work out exactly how you want people to perceive you.

He recommends using specific words. “For example, words like intelligent, concise, friendly, loyal, persistent, welcoming. Choose five words,” he says, “and realise that they matter.” They are your value proposition and they are your values.

“A full 74% of executive-level jobs are now found through networking,” he says. “The online world is today’s global talent pool. You have to know the attributes you want to convey and leverage the Internet to communicate and connect with the right individuals in a way not possible five or seven years ago.”

“Buy your domain name. Establish a blog and website. Get involved in social media. Use keywords to optimize your sites and articles. Fill the top slots in online searches,” Schawbel recommends.

“There’s an opportunity cost if you’re not heard, if people see and hear others instead. So you have to establish and differentiate what you do and then build your brand online to attract opportunities.”

Detail what you do

Be specific about what you do, what your expertise is and be consistent. Focus exactly on the value proposition and don’t digress. You need to be very clear about what and why people will want to connect with you. Be engaging but be relevant and remember you are what you Google.

Decide what content is easy for you to put out there. For example, white papers, links to news feeds from your industry, comments on your blog. Be topical and showcase your expertise. Twitter is one of the world’s biggest job boards, so keep it real.

Your single-minded proposition

Adopt a clear single-minded brand mission. For example:

  • “A trusted digital advisor”
  • “A strategic connector with financial services specialism”
  • “A professional, connected marketing networker”, and so on.

Support your single-minded proposition in everything you do online.

Finally

Maintain your brand identity, by posting content regularly, commenting and participating. It is this consistent behavior through social networks that builds trust, not having a million followers.

“With a personal brand, you can leverage the internet to communicate and connect with the right individuals,” Dan Schawbel says, “Competitively, you have no choice.”

Lastly, use tools to make it easy for you to manage content, comments and other connections you have:

Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.

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