To be successful today, you must have a clear and compelling online identity.

People are googling you and making decisions about you from what Google reveals. Whether you are an employee looking to advance in your company, a professional seeking your next marketing role, or a consultant looking to land your ideal client, you should plan on being googled. And you should prepare for it.

In a previous article, I shared with you the techniques for understanding your current online profile. In this article, I show you ways you can build your personal brand online so that you can be visible to those who need to know about you.

When I work with clients on their personal brands, we develop an online communications strategy, and often that strategy includes a personal Web site. The ideal way to create a relevant and authentic online identity is to build your own personal site or blog (you can see examples here:

Having your own place on the Web ensures that Google says exactly what you want it to say, but you may not be ready to make that kind of investment. Still, you understand the importance of being virtually visible.

Fortunately, there are many ways to enhance and refine your online identity even if you aren't ready to buy your own real estate on the World Wide Web.

Here are seven simple ways you can build your personal brand online:

  1. Build your ZoomInfo profile ( ZoomInfo crawls the Web to find content about individuals and then consolidates that content into a mini online profile. You may already have a profile at ZoomInfo. The best way to find out is to visit the site and type your name into the search box. You can create a free account to establish or edit your profile. Hiring managers and executive recruiters are using ZoomInfo to learn about prospective employees.

  2. Build your Ziggs profile ( Ziggs is similar to ZoomInfo in that it allows you to build a complimentary mini-site with pertinent professional information. It is another resource that hiring managers, customers, and others who want to know about you are using to learn about you.

  3. Get published. Publishing articles on the Web about your passions, expertise, and interests is a great way to establish your thought leadership and increase your visibility with Google. There are lots of article banks and Web portals that will accept your content.

    ArticleAnnounce from Yahoo, for example, accepts articles of all kinds and makes them available to those who need content for magazines and e-zines. and, of course, accept articles for publication online. Find the right places to post your articles and make a plan to regularly submit content that will bolster your online identity.

  4. Share your opinion. Post your reviews of books that are relevant to your area of expertise at, and other online bookstores and link back to your Web site or blog (if you have one). But remember, if your area of expertise is marketing metrics, posting a review of your favorite cookbook is only going to dilute your brand message. Write your reviews in a way to reflect your personal brand. For example, if you are humorous, make your reviews witty.

  5. Participate in communities. Join professionally oriented online forums and information exchanges such as Yahoo Groups or Google Groups. Share your expertise and increase your visibility at the same time. You'll also start to build your brand community with others who share the same interests. The MarketingProfs Know-How Exchange is one place where marketers can share their knowledge with colleagues and others who want to learn more about marketing.

  6. Provide your point of view. Comment on other people's blogs that are relevant to your personal brand. First you must find the blogs that focus on your area of expertise ( is a blog search engine that will enable you to find relevant blogs). Then you can subscribe to feeds from these blogs so that you can comment on relevant posts. Posting comments takes just a small time investment, but over time this effort leads to a powerful online profile.

  7. Network and build your brand. With some of the online networking sites, you can make your profile public. LinkedIn, for examples, gives you tips on building your profile and lets you decide whether to make it visible just to members or to anyone on the Web. Your profile is a lot like a professional bio. It enables you to succinctly express your brand promise.

To make sure you get the most value from these online image enhancers, remember to include your name with every post, and always use your name in the same format. For example, I always use William Arruda, not Bill Arruda or Will Arruda or William Vincent Arruda. Google "william arruda" and you get 38,900 entries, most of which are about me. Google "bill arruda" and none of the 183 results are about me.

Also, remember to use words that reflect your area of expertise with everything you post on the Web. If you are an expert in viral marketing, ensure that you use those words every time you comment on a blog or review a related book.

By employing these tools for building your online identity, you make small deposits in your personal brand bank that over time will yield huge dividends.

Join William Friday (11/17/2006) at his upcoming seminar, "Google: The Secret Weapon for Career Success." Sign up here.

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image of William Arruda

William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda