Personal branding: It sounds like a lot of work, right? Who has time to add another thing to the list?
Stay with me, here. Building your personal brand is a great marketing tool. And it also happens to be a lot of fun. If you're doing it right, it can enrich your social life, teach you new things, and even help you become a happier person.
Let's have a look at some personal-brand-building activities that can help you in business, but also in your personal life:
1. Comment on blogs.
Thinking, ew, really Larry? You're thinking of the bad rep blog-commenting has because of SEO spammers.
I'm talking about expanding your online social circles, sharing your opinions, and forcing yourself to actively participate in conversations that will put you front and center in discussions with peers and influencers.
In The Ridiculous Power of Blog Commenting, AJ Kohn rightly points out that most people online are lurkers--just 1% actually create content for other people to consume. Those 1%--the creators, the influencers, the people you want to engage--read their blog comments. In fact, some of them use those comments to inspire their next blog posts.
Most people suck at blog commenting. You have your run-of-the mill troll comments, the boring "Nice job!" comments, etc. Your comments on other people's blog content should engage them. Teach them something new. Share an interesting story. Take an opposing view. Elicit a reaction. Make people think.
Call attention to yourself in the best way possible: by showcasing the intelligent, thoughtful things going on inside that head of yours.
Challenge yourself to be a creator. Take the time to share your input. Build your brand, but exercise your creative muscle, too.
2. Get your social on.
Get involved in conversations with influential people in your industry via social media.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other networks are an amazing thing; you can get the CEO of a major company or a bigtime journalist to chat with you. They wouldn't pick up the phone if you called, yet here they are, interested in what you have to say.
Figure out which influencers in your industry you want to engage. Follow them on the social channel of your choice. Retweet them, Like their posts, and join the conversations on their profile.
So many people simply give the thumbs up and never take advantage of the opportunity to converse. It'll give you exposure, and you'll also learn new concepts and ideas. You'll rethink your stance on important issues. You'll inspire others to rethink theirs as the conversation develops.
Where do you want the conversation to go?
If you're interested in learning more, ask a question.
If you have an opinion differing from that of the author, share it.
If you found something really cool that adds a new perspective or deeper understanding of the issue, share that, too.
Never miss an opportunity to engage a person from whom you could learn something cool.
3. Do an AMA (Ask Me Anything).
But maybe not on Reddit.
Ask Me Anything became famous on Reddit, but other sites like Inbound.org are hosting the popular real-time Q&A interviews now, too.
Basically, you introduce yourself, tell people a little bit about you, and allow people to ask you anything you want.
I did an AMA recently and was amazed at how thoughtful and curious everyone was. The questions they asked about business, marketing, my personal life, etc., were amazing and really made me think.
The exposure, though, was fantastic.
People really appreciate when someone will open up and be completely honest, especially online. AMAs are a unique way to share your expertise and build your personal brand.
If you want to give this a shot, find a community relevant to your industry where AMAs are happening. Definitely take part in them by asking questions, so you can see how they work. If you're an active member of the community hosting the AMAs, eventually they'll ask you to participate.
If you want a really great response to an active AMA session, make sure you promote it in advance.
Change Your Perspective = Change the Outcome
Stop thinking of content creation and social media as tedious, time-consuming tasks you only do for work. If you're not getting just as much out of your online interactions as your audience, you're missing a huge opportunity.
We too often forget the "social" aspect of life on the Web and tread into "broadcaster" territory. Building your personal brand means getting exposure and telling people what you're all about, but it also means building and improving yourself.
It means allowing yourself to evolve and grow as you examine different sides of every issue.
It means enriching your life with smart, awesome people who are as passionate as you are.
It means moving beyond skimming and digesting content and truly listening and understanding other people's perspectives.
If you can master the art of thoughtful content creation that helps you build your personal brand from the inside out, it will earn you not only exposure, but respect.