As you develop a personal brand, you should employ a “bottom up” approach whenever possible. With a “bottom up” approach, you first build an identity and then utilize a network – social media, forums, and the internet. This idea might seem MOO (“master of the obvious”), but the truth is we often become enamored by the network effect and do not consider how our interactions impact our personal brand. There is excitement when you make a lot of connections.
Social media companies understand the value of networks; according to Reed’s Law, the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network. And as I have discussed in previous blogs, this is why social media services first built their networks and then developed their identity aspect.
I remember first signing up with Facebook; the reason I signed up was to connect with my family. When I signed up with LinkedIn, I wanted to make professional connections. I hastily setup my profiles because my purpose was to connect and not necessarily to project my personal brand. Of course, I have since gone back and reengineered my profiles to coincide with my personal brand.
You have to build some sort of identity, such as a LinkedIn or Facebook profile, before you can use their networks; therefore, I suggest considering: the depth of content in your profile; personal versus professional content; who owns the content you publish; your objectives in using the service; and linking back to your professional website. In addition, everything you publish online becomes part of your digital footprint – a public record, accessible to everyone: recruiters, clients, associates, etc.; so when someone searches on your name in Google, there is a good chance they retrieve your profiles and content you published.
If you have already subscribed to a service, you should update the profile to ensure that it coincides with your personal brand. Whenever you start a new service with a network, I suggest taking a “bottom up” approach; your first concern is how you are represented on the network, your identity. You evaluate everything you say and any content you publish based on how it promotes your personal brand. After your identity is established, you then start branching out with your connections and building your social network. Always link back to your professional website because you have full control over the content, so you know when someone follows the link they get a consistent message about you no matter where they come from – in a way it becomes a universal representation of your personal brand.
Finally, the internet can be considered a massive network and your primary reference point is a professional website; it becomes what you wanted ranked first when someone searches for you in a Google search. Therefore, your professional website should exude your personal brand.