April 1st - 2011

WIRED OFFICE: Personal branding - What it is and why it’s important

Lately, a new term has crept into business lingo -- “personal branding.” According to Wikipedia, personal branding is “the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.

Lately, a new term has crept into business lingo -- “personal branding.” According to Wikipedia, personal branding is “the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.” Although the concept of personal branding has existed for years, the idea has taken on new meaning with the emergence of marketing with social media. Personal branding is the concept of marketing ourselves to others. The brand is you. What makes you unique? What are your areas of expertise? Personal branding is more than just a passing phase, as some business catch phrases are. It has become a crucial part of doing business.

With our current ease of access to the internet, people will often research you before meeting. They can enter your name in any search engine and check out the results. People can quickly and easily collect background information. When they do meet you, they already know something about your strengths and interests. If they don’t like what they see, that business meeting you hoped for might never happen.

So how do you build your personal brand? Many of you already do this. If you have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account or any account on a social media platform, you’ve created a personal brand. However, you should give some thought as to how you want to portray yourself.

An important part of developing your personal brand is knowing who your clients and potential clients are. What are their needs and interests? People are looking for knowledge, quality, service and entertainment. But they also value and expect honesty and integrity. You, your reputation and how you run your business are a part of your brand.

What are your strengths and areas of expertise? What makes you unique and interesting? What is your passion? This is your opportunity to voice your opinions and share your ideas with the world, which will in turn, help make you a recognizable brand. Choose the medium with which you are most comfortable to share this information. Video? Podcast? Blog?

Blogging is a great way to share your thoughts and opinions. Platforms such as WordPress (www.wordpress.com) or Blogger (www.blogger.com) enable easy start-up. For personal branding purposes, it might be worthwhile to register a domain that uses your name (for example, www.JaneDoe.com). If you have an existing website, be sure to link to your blog. The purpose of your blog should be to provide the public with useful and interesting information about your product, service or industry. When you write a blog and receive comments, make sure that you respond to each comment. You want to encourage an online conversation. Visit other related blogs and leave comments. A big challenge in maintaining a blog is keeping it active with new content. Create an editorial schedule of blog topics. By planning ahead, you’ll know in advance your writing topics.

If you prefer verbal communication, create a series of podcasts to post on your website. Invite your listeners to respond with comments. Some of these comments may form the basis of future podcasts.

Or if the actor in you prefers video, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Upload your videos and be sure to link to them from your website. YouTube has served some companies and budding artists well (think Old Spice guy and Justin Bieber).

Regardless of the medium you select, if you receive any negative feedback, respond to it right away in a positive, proactive manner. Be sure to correct any misinformation, offer an explanation and solution if necessary, and due to the viral nature of the medium, always respond quickly. Bear in mind that laws apply equally in cyberspace, whether they relate to competition, slander, libel or privacy, including REBBA 2002 and the REBBA and REALTOR® Codes of Ethics.

Use Twitter and Facebook to share and find news related to your passion or industry. These growing networks play a huge role in broadcasting breaking news and trends. To locate groups relating to your industry, search for industry-related keywords. Consider following people or joining groups who tweet or talk about topics in your area of expertise. Participate in conversations that relate to your brand. But before you use any of these platforms, upload a professional profile picture of yourself, and be sure you have properly set your privacy settings.

Put your professional network on LinkedIn to work. Be sure to maintain your online profile since it is an excellent opportunity to advertise your skills, strengths, experience and personality. Ask for recommendations from connections with whom you’ve done business, as these serve as testimonials of your competence. The Group function in LinkedIn allows you to connect with others in your area of expertise, another opportunity to collaborate and build your reputation.

Personal branding and social media are not about blatantly selling product online. They play a key role in building your reputation through growing, sharing and participating in online communities. They offer an opportunity to share content and comments that show off your area of passion and knowledge. The number of followers you have is not as important as the quality of your interaction with your followers. Personal branding is the face you want to show to the world and how you want to position yourself for success. And by the way, business cards are still important.

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Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

JeanAdrienD@orea.com

416-445-9910 ext. 246