Creating Your Own Brand: Increasing Your Online Presence

As we balance the demands of several different roles — business partner, recruiter, consultant, human capital advisor, go-to-expert, and advocate — we don’t pay much attention to branding ourselves as a professional for our own future.

If you have created a background of accessible and transparent communication, then using corporate social networks to reinforce your brand impact should be a natural extension of the work that you have already done.

Establishing credibility in your field is essential in building meaningful relationships and elevating your online presence. Branding (how you package yourself internally and externally) should be the first step in developing your personal and professional career presence. It is not a new concept, however, with the advancement of Web 2.0 tools, it is more important to be clear about what your personal brand is and to consistently communicate that brand across all platforms.

Your compelling and unique brand is important and influential as you have authentically created it to be an integral part of your company’s culture. Now it is time to use the strength of the human resources, recruitment, or third-party sourcing brand that you have built to attract new talent to market your leadership abilities, establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field, get your name out there within your area of interest, and capitalize on what you know.

What will fellow recruiters, candidates, clients, hiring decision-makers, or industry leaders uncover when they Google your name?

Some of the most important reasons you should build your personal brand includes:

  • It puts you in charge of your “digital footprint.” Google is the new resume and the Web is forever. Your professional image/headline is already created. It’s a matter of taking charge, marketing it, and building a solid reputation in your industry.
  • Establishing credibility and visibility in your field is essential to building meaningful relationships (including potential business partners, clients, mentors, referrals, or just friends), and elevating your online presence.
  • Today’s business climate is too competitive not to create your brand and keep pace with your competition. Not only can your online footprint give you that edge you need when someone comes looking for you, but effectively marketing yourself on the Internet can actually bring great opportunities to you.

Brand Building Steps

The branding process is straightforward and should begin with garnering information about yourself including expertise and skill sets you uniquely offer. This includes getting feedback from colleagues, clients, friends, and family. It also involves analyzing who your target audience or market is and who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals. This data to hone in on is your branding statement. The next phase is developing a brand strategy and plan to ensure sure your target audience is aware of who you are and what you offer.

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To build your online presence and promote your brand:

  • Create a blog. You create a two-way conversation and anyone can create a blog with limited technical knowledge. They typically are either free or available at a very low cost. To get started I recommend WordPress.com for the beauty of its templates. It is free, easy to use, ranks high in Google, provides a support forum for the product, and you get your own URL. You may want to study your HTML skills before you write a blog. There are various sites such as W3 Schools that can provide tutorials for you.
  • Create a website and submit it to major search engines. Use Godaddy.com or Bluehost.com (fee based) to host and build your website. You can also use Microsoft Expression Web, which is an easy to use website building software program, much like using Microsoft Word to build your website. Depending on your strategy, your URL is going to be extremely important. The objective of the URL is to have something you can freely promote and that people can remember.
  • Create a newsletter about your field, areas of expertise, and personal brand. Constant Contact is an easy and economical option to create one. A newsletter can be linked to your blog — meaning your blog can feed the newsletter. The feed can be set to deliver whenever you post to your blog. There are also several services out there that will take your blog and turn it into your newsletter.
  • Start branded profiles. Set up branded profiles on social/professional networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook).
    — 70+ Top Personal Branding Experts you can connect with on Twitter at
    http://tinyurl.com/n4hbug
    — HR & Recruitment Pro List to follow on Twitter at http://tinyurl.com/yhm2z9f
  • Create a Google profile. When people search for your name, Google can display a link to “your Google profile in our search results” and people can see whatever information you choose to publish in your profile.
  • Create a Wikipedia profile. As a first-stop online research platform, Wikipedia is an excellent tool for establishing credibility and you can create targeted inbound links to your site. Actively contributing to this online encyclopedia can drive readers seeking more information about your expertise.
  • Set profiles. Set up a profile on the following directories and networking services: Ziggs, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, ClaimID.
  • Teach classes or hold free talks. Contact your local university and offer to hold a free lunch-time seminar on your core area of expertise. Alternately, offer to run free classes.
  • Be viral. Post on related blogs, participate in online discussion forums, and review books about your industry related topics on Amazon.com.
  • Be a resource. Serve on the board or a committee of a professional organization or association. This is a great way to network, online and offline.
  • In-person networking. This is the ultimate form of branding, and offers the opportunity to stay current in your field. Go outside your comfort level to develop professional contacts through business and social networking events, and chambers of commerce. Reach out to individuals you have met in your industry at professional organizations, conferences, and trade shows. Set up and host your own event. You will need a compelling idea or program to attract the type of people you want to attend. People are attracted by events where they can attain knowledge, learn about trends and be able to network with others. Promote your event through social media.

Managing the Online Brand

Once you are online, consider your online brand reputation and management options:

  • Naymz.com. Sign up or invite people to write reviews about you. You can import your LinkedIn profile data to your Naymz profile. This is my favorite site.
  • Rapleaf.com. Look up your reputation, rate others, and they will be invited to rate you in return.
  • RepVine.com. Reference and reputation management combined.
  • ReputationDefender.com. Service that attempts to help remove things said about you online.

The bottom line is to get started if you haven’t done so.

If you manage your brand on an ongoing basis, it won’t become a big job. It will also build respectability, industry integration, and provide acknowledgement of your value to candidates and clients, and the collective brand we deliver as recruiters.

Toby is a seasoned talent acquisition consultant, entrepreneur, coach and speaker, and has worked with clients in a variety of industries and functional areas. She possesses over fourteen years of retained executive search experience and worked at Whitney Group (Carlyle Group, Ltd.), A.T. Kearney Executive Search, Kensington International and Wujcik & Associates. She is also an AIRS Certified Internet and Social Sourcing Recruiter. Prior to executive search, Toby spent fourteen years in the health care industry and served as a senior human resources manager with a special emphasis on recruitment, compensation, and benefits.

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