‘Personal branding’ is quickly becoming a household term. The current global economy combined with the huge role social media plays in our daily lives demands that each one of us considers how we can stand out amongst all others who offer similar skills, talents, and backgrounds. Of course our credentials still have value as they are the table-stakes that anyone must have for a specific job or position. However, it is our character, our personal brand, that ultimately gets us recognized.
One of the ways we demonstrate our personal brand is through thought-leadership. Our resume might tout our expertise but in the day of Web 2.0 people are looking online for how we communicate our expertise, knowledge, and brand message.
Being a ‘Driver’ not Just a ‘Passenger’
So how do you use your personal brand to drive discussions and build a reputation as a thought-leader? Here are 5 ‘driving’ tips to get you started on the road to being recognized for your unique expertise.
Tip 1: Be a Personal Publisher
William Arruda identified ‘personal publishing’ as one of the key personal branding trends in 2012. Blogs and online portals are enabling any one of us to be ‘published’ and extend our personal brands.
Other ways to be a personal publisher to drive your thought-leadership is to write a white paper or manifesto to state your position on a topic. Or, search for opportunities to be a guest blogger on blogs related to your area of expertise. Blog owners are always looking for great content. Appearing in a blog owned by a top influencer in your field is surely a way to get recognized. A good resource for this is My Blog Guest where blog owners post daily requests for guest bloggers.
Tip 2: Be Active on Twitter
Twitter is probably the best platform to drive your thought-leadership. After all, it is a form of micro-blogging and your expertise is available for the whole twitter-sphere to see. Always keep in mind that your role as a thought-leader here must follow the ’80/20 rule’. Spend more of your time sharing the thought-leadership of others and the remaining time contributing your ideas. Keep your tweets consistently and constantly related to the area you want to gain your reputation as a leader.
Tip 3: Comment, comment, comment
Commenting on other blogs or in LinkedIn groups within your area of influence is a great way to drive forward your thought-leadership. Your comments will show up on Google searches of your name, and the blog owner and others will begin to recognize your input. Just remember to upload a head-shot to Gravatar so your image consistently appears next to all the comments you make.
Tip 4: Use video as a tool
Video is fast becoming the best way for you to be seen as a thought-leader. Simply put, video is the most complete form of communication to build your reputation. Your ideas are supported by visual imagery and your actual presence, which creates immediate trust, authenticity and credibility. Remember, your videos do not need to be professionally produced. Most smart phones now have HD quality video, and current apps such as Mobli, Tout, and videoBIOtv enable you to record a thought-leadership clip and immediately share it in your Twitter feed or Facebook page.
Tip 5: Be a Resource for Media
Journalists and reporters are always looking for resources for their articles. By signing up with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) you will receive daily emails with requests from major media outlets for expertise in a wide variety of areas. Once you find a request that matches your thought-leadership you can contact the reporter to express your interest and hopefully your idea will be picked up. HARO does take commitment and while it may take time before your story is selected, you are likely to be featured in a high profile publication. Another great resource is The Reporter Connection.
“You Cannot be a Thought-Leader if Others Don’t Follow”
I read the above quote in a Forbes article by Shel Israel and to me it really sums up the most important condition of being a thought-leader. The key here, however, is to ensure that those who do follow are truly engaged with the thought-leadership you provide. Do not get caught up in the numbers game. It is not important how many followers you have on Twitter, how many people ‘liked’ a post on Facebook, or what number Klout gives you for your influence.
Move away from measuring “how many” and focus on WHY your page, post, tweet, etc. is popular. Was it a question you asked that prompted a lot of comments? Did a video you post result in a high number of re-tweets? Did a thought-leader in your sphere of influence mention your post in their blog or tweet? All of these are authentic indicators of your thought-leadership.