Just because you have a LinkedIn profile doesn’t mean your personal branding efforts are complete, however, you’re off to a great start! A great start because of LinkedIn’s membership base (approximately 300 million), visibility, ease-of-use and maybe the most important reason: the embedded search features which allow for a myriad of ways for YOU to be found (or discovered). Having a completed profile and professional headshot on LinkedIn is a giant step toward communicating your brand. However, just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come…so what’s next?
If you’re like many people, you’re also on Facebook , Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and a handful of other networking related sites. You may not be as active as some you know, but odds are you’ve at least set up a profile to see what they’re all about–right? Maybe you’ve even created a Klout account to measure your “social influence” on a scale from 1-100. Have you uploaded your photo to Gravatar and registered on Google Profiles to make yourself more “discoverable” in the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo? Have you ventured over to GoDaddy and purchased your name as a dot com (or .net, .me, or all of the available extensions)? Speaking of URL ownership, if you haven’t done so already, make certain you edit and claim your name on your LinkedIn URL while it’s still available. Click on “Edit Profile” on your LinkedIn toolbar and just below your picture you will see your LinkedIn address. Click “edit” next to your address and look to the right side of the page and click on “Custom URL” and type in your preferred name (without spaces). If its available your address will now be linkedin.com/in/yourname instead of the long string of numbers you were assigned by default. This will make you easier to search in LinkedIn and facilitate better search engine results as you begin to coordinate your overall branding efforts.
Like most, you probably have a little bit of yourself spread around in several different places on the web creating a very fragmented digital footprint. Odds are, each of your personal profiles are not as complete as they should be, your information is inconsistent and this lack of coordinated effort is suppressing your personal brand effectiveness and likely making for something less-than-optimal in terms of results when someone types your name into one of the many search engines. And more people than you might think are searching your name: friends, co-workers, new acquaintances, business associates (before, during or after the meeting), vendors, parents in your child’s play group, a prospective or current employer, a committee member, a recruiter, and so forth and so on––you get the point, right? And given the evolving efficiency of the search engines and particularly technology like Facebook’s new Graph Search, people can find damn near anything about you––most of which you control but some you don’t unless you take the necessary steps to opt out of public information aggregators like Spokeo. The point is, YOU have to take control if you want to communicate an effective personal brand.
So, with an ever increasing digital footprint, how do you coordinate your overall presence, move yourself up in the search engine standings and maximize your personal branding efforts? The most efficient way to accomplish this is by using one of several personal branding sites like BrandYourself, Qnary (pronounced like Canary) or About, just to name what I consider to be the top three choices to help coordinate and amplify your personal brand. These sites allow you to create a comprehensive profile by either choosing to transfer information directly from LinkedIn in the case of BrandYourself or just copying and pasting from your already completed LinkedIn profile for the others. Once completed, each has the appearance of a personalized website about you. If you happen to own your name as a dot com, you can go to “Domain Management” on the GoDaddy site and forward yourname.com directly to your site-of-choice address (ex: brand yourself.com/yourname) or for a small annual fee Brand Yourself will mask your personal URL and your Brand Yourself address will be yourname.com instead of brand yourself.com/yourname. While it may sound more complicated than it is––its actually very simple. With yourname.com as your personalized website, you can now add your URL on your LinkedIn page under “Contact Info”, your Facebook page under the “About” tab, Twitter, AARP, and just about any other site where the profile page allows for a personal website.
Here’s the really cool part: The real purpose of these personal branding sites is to link all of your online activities together under a hub and spoke type of approach in order to maximize your visibility with the various search engines. It works well… I’ve done it and so can you! Each of these sites allow you to link Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gravatar, WordPress, Klout, Instagram, press releases, and just about anything else you can think of for the purpose of coordinating your online presence and most important, optimizing YOU with the various search engines. Remember; be consistent when completing profile information about yourself. Be diligent in making certain you leave no stone unturned related to your personal branding efforts and last, be patient as it takes several weeks to see results in the various search engines.
Hang in there… it can be done!