Standing out in an actual crowd is one thing - but how do you come across equally distinctively online?
From small businesses starting to develop their presence online, to individuals working within large organisations, it's important to maintain a solid personal brand online. It can be quite a daunting prospect, trying to navigate multiple social media sites, maintain your own space and do enough to be seen, get heard and, most importantly, be trusted by the people you engage with.
Having spent the last five years trying to get my "brand" in order, there were a number of things I quickly realised I needed to do to make sure that I came across in the right way online.
You already have a personal brand, but building a presence consistently across multiple touchpoints is the best wait to differentiate you from those around you. This applies to pictures and your name, as well as your colour scheme, fonts and the tone of voice you use.
Avoid using geographical locations in your branding (with possible exception to the tourism industry) and try to hint at the things you are passionate about. You might never update your YouTube or Wordpress account but it's worth registering to make sure your brand name is protected.
Develop a personality
If you talk like a robot online, people will treat you with the same attention they treat other machinery.
Even though you've promoted your brand name, it's likely that people will remember you for the amusing comment you made about your iPhone, or the funny experience you had on a bus. Be yourself and bring some personality to the party.
Look and listen
Have you ever Google searched your name? How much about you is already available online? Search for yourself, or your brand regularly to keep up to date with new mentions, quell any potentially flammable situations early and maintain a solid awareness of your brand online.
Monitor important events, influential people and competitors so that you can be aware of news in the wider industry. Setting up a Google Alert is a great way to start your monitoring programme.
What's your opinion?
A lot of the opinions on your personal brand will depend on what people think of what you say. Blindly adding another "plus one", "me too" or "I agree!" to a debate will not help you stand out from the crowd. Giving alternative ideas and articulating your own opinions will provide opportunities for debate to continue and can often spark new conversations. This, in turn, will increase the chance that people will take note and remember you.
Build a network
I can't state enough how important it is to network. But, at the same time it's vital not to come across as a clichéd sleazy salesperson. Most fellow internet users can spot a shameless self promotion from a mile away so it’s important that you network based around common interests and goals while looking for people you can form mutually beneficial partnerships with.
Keep creating content
Fundamental to developing your own brand is being able to tell people what you stand for. This could range from writing guest columns on blogs, starting a thread on a LinkedIn group or publishing articles on your own websites. I already touched on having an opinion, but being the person who starts the conversation is an even more powerful way to help you get noticed.