What personal branding should mean to you

April 23, 2009

In the changing economy, there are more people fighting for fewer, better jobs (be they career or freelance). So while you’ve obviously got some of the chops, you have to find a way to stand out among the others like you. Dependent upon which group you fall under (media/PR/biz), this will happen in a few different ways, but the general lessons are the same, most of which we hope you’ll take away if you RSVP and attend the second SAMPRB lunch tweetup at noon, April 30 at Paloma Blanca.

Coming from the media side, I can understand why many non-digital natives (specifically in journalism) may feel a little uneasy about personal branding. We’ve always been about getting the story, not playing a role. As somebody who’s been online for over 10 years now (never thought I’d be saying that), I’m used to living my life online, which is what David Cohn (he of Spot.us fame) suggests journos do to establish their identity.

Personal branding doesn’t mean slapping a logo on yourself. It just means being exactly who you are right now (yes, you… the one reading this) but doing that online.

That lesson works for everybody, not just journalists, but so do some of the other lessons from that post. David warns against becoming (or enabling) those who create a fake persona solely for promotion.

These characters often rely on personal brands that are pure flash. Which is to say: They aren’t living their lives online – they are creating a fake persona. There is self-promotion which is understandable in a world of freelancers and then there is shameless self-promotion which is unbecoming.

At the lunch tweetup, we hope to share information from those who have done so and those who are learning about the best ways to establish your presence online. Jacob Share has more than a handful of tips for establishing a personal brand, including one of my favorites that you can do right now for very little investment.

  • Register your own name as a domain name. If not available, use your personal brand name or some variation that won’t confuse people and will still reinforce your brand.

By doing that, and creating a Web site, you being to establish a digital resume and home for your online life. For those unfamiliar with building a Web site, I recommend using WordPress as using its powerful blog customization tools to showcase your work and how best to find you online.

In my own case, I had to purchase a .net domain considering the .com version of my name was a redirect for a flutist (WARNING: Link begins playing audio immediately). He’s since lost the domain, but it was snapped up by another group. That’s not a huge problem (unless single women think I play a mean jazz flute, which I don’t), considering a Google Search for my name brings up my Web site as the top result and four links relating to me on the first page. That’s not to be arrogant, though, I just want to point out what establishing a brand can do for you, especially when you mesh it together by name, company or personal brand name.

A few of our expected attendees at the SAMPRB lunch tweetup have done the same, either via social media or other forms. We hope to see you there so you can either learn or share your experiences. Please RSVP today as we only have a handful of spots remaining.

Joe Ruiz is one of the three founders of the San Antonio Media/PR/Business Tweetup. He is a freelance journalist and works as the nightside Web editor for KSAT.com in San Antonio, Texas. He is also one of the three New Media track leaders for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists‘ upcoming June 2009 convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


One comment

  1. Thanks for the post Joe. I have been meaning on commenting on it since it was posted.

    I agree. Personal branding does not mean designing a logo with your name on it and GO! That would be too easy. Personal branding is something that anyone, in any industry and at any level can do thanks to Web 2.0 and social media. And precisely because anyone can do it… it’s gets a little more complicated.

    Personal branding is a priceless opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted by accumulating accounts on social networks and producing disingenuous content with no substance. If you are in media/PR/business you should think about who you are, how you portray yourself in everyday situations or events and consider taking that online genuinely and to the best of your ability. Don’t overwhelm yourself, don’t clutter the sphere… DO determine whether or not Web 2.0 makes sense for you and who you are and if the answer is “yes” find the best place for you to start. it’s not easy but it can be very worth yours and others’ times.

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