Personal Branding Basics for Security Professionals (Part 2)
In my last post, Personal Branding Basics, we discussed the importance of personal branding in this web 2.0 World as well as how to discover and create your brand. Today, we’ll discuss ways to communicate your personal brand, using social media tools and proven marketing tactics, and then how to sustain your future growth by performing occasional brand maintenance.
Communicating Your Brand
Like anything else worth achieving this will take time and effort, however, if done properly the benefits will reveal themselves to you at every turn. That makes this the exciting and challenging part of the process. In last week’s posting we talked about figuring out what you want to do and how to create content to support it. Although the content can serve as a communication engine, such as a blog that pumps out content and ranks high in search engines, you have a better chance of getting the word out by being proactive.
Put on your personal PR hat and start to promote your offering and your brand. Before you go crazy with self-promotion, realize that the most successful people are able and trained to promote the work of others as well.
Here are some proven personal PR tactics:
Evangelize: Although you are the chief marketing officer for the brand called “You”, what others say about your brand (especially if they are respected and well-known) is more impactful than what you say about yourself. This means that you should try and find people who will help promote you when you aren’t even in the same room. You want people to talk about you, your expertise or your company without pitching. A fan base for your personal brand can really help you get the word out at the least possible cost and time commitment, but it takes time. There are people out there who are already interested in what you have to say, but you might not yet realize it. By starting a blog or other type of network (preferably, something using technology) you create the infrastructure to support your own following and to communicate updates as you progress throughout your career.
Become Media Savvy: Don’t start spamming reporters, instead, do some homework and figure out who covers what in your security niche. Almost all newspapers and security industry magazines have online versions and blogs now which are easier to get into than the print versions of the media once were. Local ASIS chapters usually welcome contributors to their monthly newsletter. It’s easier to pitch when there is actually news, but these industry publications are always looking for expert sources such as you. After you target the right contact within, email them your pitch and follow up after a week. If you still don’t hear anything, move on.
If you set Google alerts for terms in your area of expertise or interest or perform Twitter searches, you’ll end up finding publications and reporters that cover your area within security.
Search Engine Optimization: Ranking high for your expertise is extremely important. It takes time, patience and determination to be found on the Web. Just putting up a website or blog isn’t enough. It helps to have others (evangelists) that will link to your website. Industry peers, media types, conference organizers and customers are constantly using search engines to find expert sources, cool stories, speakers and solutions to their problems. If you’re at the top, they will contact you. It’s that simple, yet that challenging! Do your homework on SEO tips to help you rank as high as possible in search engines.
Be Active: Getting out to where people are already interested in what you have to say (an industry event) will allow you to do some real networking. Remember that people don’t know about you until they hear about you from your mouth or from a 3rd party. Tell them what you’re up to AFTER asking them about what they do.
Speak at Events: When attending events isn’t enough, speaking at events can satisfy your personal PR craving. It will be hard for you to speak without becoming known first though, which is why this falls after being active. When you speak, people automatically perceive you as an expert (unless you flop and prove them otherwise), so you’re bound to get attention, fans and new blog subscribers if you play your cards right. Make sure you have a recording of your speaking engagement so you can use it in your PR and marketing tool belt to promote yourself and get your next event. Try uploading it to YouTube for some added exposure.
Create Your Own Event: The only thing bigger than being a speaker is actually starting your own event or series of webinars on the topic of your expertise. ASIS offers regular webinars to all its members and you can submit your idea for a webinar for you to host to them. When you do this, you are perceived as a leader and a go-to-person at the event. Use your blog to promote the event so that you can get the attendees involved in the conversation before, during and afterward.
Comment on Blogs or LinkedIn Groups: Bloggers love comments. I can speak firsthand on this. When you comment on someone else’s blog it’s like getting a pat on the back. A blogger is more apt to comment back on your blog, subscribe and link to your blog if you’re a part of their community. If you comment on every blog in your industry on a consistent basis, people will get to know you and your brand will flourish. Join security related groups on LinkedIn and post your blog and engage in discussions in these forums.
Write and Submit Articles: Article writing is a great marketing tactic. Depending on your writing portfolio and the strength of your brand, you can write for magazines, online sources (like local ASIS chapters mentioned earlier) or blogs. There are also online article directories that you can submit your work to. By contributing to these sources, you’re able to get your personal brand into new places, while marketing your current web presence.
The communication process never ends, unless you want to quit or stop growing.
Realize your brand will shift over time, as you accumulate more experience. This is where brand maintenance comes in.
Maintain Your Brand
There are two main parts to brand maintenance that matter: online “spring cleaning” and careful listening.
Online “Spring Cleaning”: As your brand grows, you must ensure that all the online assets that you have control of grow in the same respect. This means that you need to constantly update your LinkedIn profile so it contains your latest contacts, experience information, and summary. It also means that your physical resume has to be updated, in addition to your video resume and so on.
I know this can be a time consuming task, but the reasoning is simple: first impressions on the Web tell you that someone’s introduction into your personal brand can come from a variety of sources. If one of these sources isn’t current, then you may lose an opportunity.
Careful Listening: People are going to be talking about you in various places, such as Twitter, blogs, social networks and more. You need to be aware of what they are saying so that you can respond accordingly. There are many tools out there to help you such as Twitter search, Google alerts, and others. By listening to your security peers, you’re able to react and better position yourself as the economy changes and your niche changes.
It all starts with you. You can make anything happen and now, with these social tools, it’s easier to accomplish more in less time. It’s up to you to figure out what you want to do and surround yourself with the people that can help in your personal branding quest.
Remember that right now these social tools pose as a differentiator, but soon they will be so standard that they will be a qualifier. Take advantage of what’s here before it’s too late and you become branded by others. Good luck on your personal branding journey!