So you’ve hopefully read my first post on the matter, Building a Personal Brand: First Steps, and know that you need to take control of your online image.
We’ve heard the positives, and you are hopefully rearing to go, your finger hovering over several ‘Join!’ buttons.
Not all online activity will be working in your favour, and it’s my job to give you a couple of warnings so you can avoid the worst of them.
It’s not just about you
Yes, taking control of your image was perhaps the initial incentive for this journey, but with your acceptance of your personal brand comes responsibility. Try to think less in terms of how you can promote yourself, and more in terms of how you can serve your readership. Whether you have a readership or not at this point is irrelevant, you still need to work out what values you want to promote through your personal brand.
Your values can be as lofty or superficial as you want, stick them on a post-it note and check them whenever you publish something online, whether it’s a blog or a tweet. Does it adhere to your values or are you contradicting yourself?
Your values might evolve and that’s fine: start a new post it note, and maybe write a blog post explaining your evolution. You are human (probably), change is normal, even desirable, but you are also responsible now to your audience, so keep them in the loop.
There is such a thing as bad publicity
If you haven’t been part of a social network before, you might have the sensation of gesticulating wildly into the void. Keep your cool, don’t expect thousands of followers after an hour, keep sharing high quality work and respectfully joining the wider conversations.
It’s tempting to try and speed things along, but it’s unlikely to work. It is far better to have a small but relevant online network, than to buy a horde of spambots.
Things that will damage you include: spamming people with self-advertising, attacking people online, complaining about your unfollowers, going for publicity stunts that have no relation to your brand, jumping unto every bandwagon under the sun….
If you wouldn’t behave that way in a real life situation, then don’t do it online. Performing the online equivalent of a human cannon when you are a lawyer is unlikely to make people trust you with their financial settlements.
Don’t join a network simply for the sake of it, because you will need to maintain it regularly. It’s very easy to overstretch yourself and sign up to networks without doing anything with them. The image this projects to others is that you are not able to see a project through.
It is far better to focus on one or two relevant channels, as well as a blog/website, rather than plenty of empty ones. Concentrate on keeping those active, up to date, and relevant.
Keep it professional, be consistent about what you stand for, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you are superhuman. At least, not when it comes to this.