After being laid off in February 2011, I had to devise a strategy to differentiate myself in a job market crowded with talented and creative individuals. I started by leveraging the power and reach of social media.
Coming from a predominantly traditional marketing background, I was in the midst of rebranding myself as a social media marketer. I put a major emphasis on producing and curating content that demonstrated my knowledge and understanding of the industry, while demonstrating social media savviness.
I built the website HireDaveCutler.com, featuring a video and PowerPoint resume, writing samples, and references, to provide a more holistic view of myself than a traditional resume would provide. I created a Foursquare venue promoting my search and an app that aggregated my various content channels.
My efforts culminated in my receiving considerable media coverage as I was featured on the cover of The Boston Globe’s Sunday Business section and was interviewed on NPR, Boston’s Fox television affiliate, and the Tonya Hall Radio Show. You can see the interview on Fox below.
My own promotional efforts, coupled with the publicity generated by the mainstream media coverage, resulted in a barrage of opportunities. Here are some best practices I picked up along the way.
Craft Your Niche
Think in terms of an elevator pitch. Can you quickly and succinctly describe your knowledge and experience, either in person or an online profile? Consider the colleagues, consultants, or friends that you’ve recommended to others. More than likely, you thought of them because they demonstrated a mastery of a certain specialty. Identifying the appropriate keywords associated with your chosen niche across your entire online presence is critical. Being the foremost expert matters little if no one can find you by searching relevant terms.
Remember That Neither Rome nor Coke Was Built in a Day
Establishing a brand is not an overnight process for a company or an individual. It’s not merely as simple as flipping a switch. While taking control of your online presence, configuring profiles, and building a website for yourself is a step in the right direction, your work isn't complete. Personal brands must be nurtured over time, especially as your career progresses and evolves.
Mix Business With Pleasure
People want to work with individuals they know, like, and trust. Injecting a little personal info into your branding helps make your story more relatable. I try to give people a broader understanding of who I am beyond my professional pursuits. You never know what will resonate. I’ve had business opportunities that initiated with comments about my kids, dogs, and even the spot where I proposed to my wife. However, it’s important to strike a balance and find a happy medium.
The Case for Googling Yourself
Much of your personal brand is determined by what can be gleaned about you through a Google search. I would highly recommend the seemingly narcissistic exercise of googling yourself fairly regularly to see what about you is featured most prominently. For optimal results, use a browser that normally lies dormant on your computer. Short of that, you should at least make sure to log out of any Google-related profile to ensure that you’re viewing a reasonable facsimile of what the average person performing a search of your name would find.
Every field has established experts and influencers. Identify and reach out to those folks in your industry. You can learn how they achieved and maintained their current stature. Rather than immediately requesting that they share your content, engage with them via social media, comment on their blog posts, or introduce yourself following a talk. Over time, the influencer will be more inclined to follow and share your work, lending you further credibility.
Editor's note: This post is excerpted from The Grande Guide to Personal Branding by Dave Cutler, released today by Eloqua. Download a full copy of the Guide---which features handy tools for both in-person and online person branding, how-to advice, resources, and more---all packaged within a stylish design. Download the Grande Guide here.