You read a lot about companies branding themselves, but what if you are your own brand? Consultants, speakers, coaches and self-employed professionals need to market themselves as a brand, just like any other type of business.
The Importance of Expertise
The single best way to work on your brand is to show that you’re an expert in your field. You do this in many ways:
- Write blog posts on your industry
- Participate in social media
- Answer questions on sites like Focus and Quora
- Leave comments on industry blogs
- Guest post on other blogs in your field
- Speak at conferences
- Write whitepapers, artiles, eBooks and books
As you can see, there’s practically no end to the ways you can establish yourself as an expert. Start with just one of the bullets. Maybe start with creating a blog. Write about what you know, and what you want to know. Research other blogs and websites to get insights and statistics. Build up your readership and show people you’re passionate about what you do. Before long, people will come to you as the go-to person in your field. But you’ve got to work at it.
While of course, you want lots of clients, your first goal in branding yourself is to simply provide value. Be unselfish and give lots of free advice. I sell a few eBooks, and sometimes when I’m emailing back and forth with a potential client, I’ll send them a copy for free, just to help them solve a problem. They don’t always end up being clients, but at least I can feel like I’ve armed them with information they can use.
When on social media, work to provide useful Tweets and status updates. Share posts from your and other blogs. Ask questions. Respond to questions. Give people a reason to want to follow you and interact with you.
Make Your Name Your Brand
It’s a good idea to do everything online under your name, rather than a nickname or business name. I established my Twitter account under @eggmarketing, which in retrospect, may have been a mistake, as people don’t necessarily associate my name with my Twitter profile. Your name is your brand, especially if you are a consultant doing business under your name.
Avoid all those cutesy college nicknames and use your name or initials and last name every time you create an account somewhere. This helps in Google search as well as name recognition.
I know that with the sheer number of social networks, blogs, forums and other member-driven websites it can be daunting to know where you really should be, but my advice? Be in as many places as you can manage.
Set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter. Set up a professional Page on Facebook. Join sites like LinkedIn, Quora and Focus, where you can answer questions in your industry. Participate in industry forums and chats. Guest post on other sites. The more places you penetrate, the more recognizable your name will be as your brand.
But just having a profile isn’t enough. You’ve got to actually be there. If you’ve signed up to more sites than you can possibly participate in, scale back to the ones that get you the best response. You can always experiment and shift as public interest in one site beats out that of another (a la MySpace).
Never Stop Working
The thing they don’t tell you when you decide you want to consult is that you never reach this pinnacle where you’ve ultimately marketed yourself to stardom. Take even a short break, and you’ll tumble back down with the other no-names, and the process will begin again.
Constantly market yourself. Always find new ways to position your brand.