We enjoyed our Cre8tive View chat with Ann Smarty on establishing your personal brand online. Her suggestions were not quick fixes. They were honest and simple.
She started off by explaining how she got the name “Ann Smarty”. This is not her real name. Being from the Ukraine and establishing her online presence using the English language, she knew people would struggle with her Russian name.
It took less than 6 years before everyone would come to know and trust Ann Smarty. She’s been blogging at countless sites for years, and helping out in communities all along. The key to developing a personal brand is, said Ann, getting out there in the various online communities and joining in the discussions.
This means really honest to goodness participation where you add value to a discussion or provide accurate information in a blog post or article. It’s the way the Internet grew in the first place, before revenue generation forced a huge change in how people marketed their companies, self or careers.
If you are an individual building your personal brand, you will never spam a community, forums, or send out spammy emails. You will do these
- Choose a name people will remember you by. For years.
- Offer help to others and ask nothing in return.
- Teach and provide examples that don’t promote your own site.
- Write in a non-aggressive way.
- Never, ever attack anyone online. It’s ugly. (Unless your brand is about being mean.)
- Look for communities where you feel comfortable in being there.
- Start your own community. This lets you develop your own following.
Small businesses can take the lead on offering to help their customers by writing about what they know and sharing it freely on their site. If you sell anything you make yourself, share what you know on your own site and also in communities or online groups in LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Share. Share. Give. Give.
Reach out to authority figures too. Some of them will be too busy but others are more understanding and giving of their time. They started a zero once. Ask to interview them. Invite them teach your readers. Bring in guest bloggers with followings. Keep reaching out.
It’s easier to be yourself when the brand is you. Ann discussions the limits of corporate branding. It tends to be sterile and bought via ads. Customer service helps them too.
For your own personal style, you may have to give out more pieces of yourself than you are comfortable with. The good news is that with the right mix of generosity, sense of humor, expertise in your field or simple curiosity, you can compete with people who are spammers, rude to people, arrogant, selfish and have egos the size of Jupiter.
Your best bet to building your personal brand online is to be patient.