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It’s not about who you know. It’s about who knows you! [5 Steps to Personal Branding]

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The concept of personal branding has been discussed widely across the net. Yet many people still think that it’s confined to the celebrity set, like Paris Hilton or Justin Timberlake.

By definition, personal branding is ‘the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands’. Today, the idea of ‘self-packaging’ is becoming more of a necessity than a desire due to the rise in popularity of social media technology.

Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and thus enabled us mere mortals to reach incredible heights, where the cost to entry involves little more than our time.

To help you get your ‘personal brand’ in the spotlight, here are five steps to ‘the art of personal branding’.

Discover your niche

The first step in the personal branding process is to discover and select your niche so that you can become the master of your domain.

Take an inventory of your skill-set and determine what it is that you can be seen as a specialist in – this will become your ‘online domain’. Start by registering your ‘name as a domain’ – for example, www.johnsmith.com – so that you can own your slice of the world wide web.

Or perhaps create an alter ego, like Yvonne Adele’s ‘Miss Megabyte’ or ‘The Gadget Guy‘.

Develop a branding ‘tool kit’

Your personal branding ‘tool kit’ consists of the elements you need to highlight your brand and communicate your niche.

In your kit you will need a business card – both printed and online versions. To create and distribute your online business card, perhaps use a free site, like www.businesscard2.com.

Next you will need a professional resume. Online resources like www.theresumebuilder.com can assist you there. This is important not just for job hunting but also to include when promoting your business to new clients.

Last but not least, you will need a visual portfolio that will consist of a professional studio-shot of yourself, a CD or DVD of your work and a short profile video of yourself that can be posted to You Tube.

Create your online profile

An online profile on social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is where people will probably find you first.

Here’s a snapshot of the power and reach of this popular phenomenon:

LinkedIn: Around 700,000 users across Australia, increasing by 23% in the last eight months, and 60 million users worldwide.

Facebook: Around five million users across Australia and a staggering 500 million worldwide in 2010.

Twitter: Around 250,000 users across Australia, growing by 1,067% per anum. Today, we are seeing around 50 million tweets being posted per day globally – that’s an average of 600 tweets per second.

Facebook alone has over 160 million personal profiles, but few have branded themselves properly using this medium. Make sure that your ‘personal brand’ is reflected consistently across all these mediums and that you manage it well.

For example, select the privacy options available that disable the ability for people to tag you in external pictures and videos.

Establish a blog

If you are going to carve a niche in the market and become known as the ‘online specialist’ in your field then you will need a blog.

A blog allows you to post articles you have written, add links, pictures and work examples, as well as give you something to feature on your personal domain website.

Moreover, those who blog will create a stronger asset than those who don’t because blogs rank higher in search engines and, therefore, make it easier for people to search and view your expertise and interest areas over time.

Communicating your personal brand

Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important if you want to stand out from the crowd. Invest in training to improve your presentation skills and select clothing that best represents you and enhances your ‘brand message’.

Remember that it will be this look and presentation that will be viewable through your pictures/avatars and video clips online, as well as when you meet people in reality.

After taking the first four essential steps, Step Five is where the real work begins.

Don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come.

To create and establish your ‘personal brand’ you will need to actively communicate everything that you have created to others and the world.

Have you ever heard the term, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’?

Nowadays, it’s not about ‘who you know’ but, more importantly, ‘who knows you’!

Tony Eades is the Creative Director for BrandManager, a full service creative agency based in Sydney.

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