Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Building Your Professional Brand: Drink the Kool-aid

    Is what you have to say compelling, insightful, interesting or useful? Would you like to get this message out to others? Would you like to receive the acknowledgment of your peers for what you have to say?

    If you answer yes to all of the above then you need a professional brand. A professional brand is something that marks you as uniquely you, something that points directly at you in such a way that others recognize you. It's not quite a kind of fame, but it is a way of differentiating yourself from the masses.

    I've recently become interested in establishing my own professional brand and I've started looking around at ways to do that. Here are a few of the observations I've made.

    You need a soapbox

    You have to have some place where you can expound on your ideas to the fullest extent possible. Follow out every thought, every nuance of an argument and feel comfortable doing it. Speak your mind!

    This is where your blog comes in. It is your soapbox. You can discuss whatever you like there, but the more erudite and insightful your blogs are, the more folks will come back after the first dose.

    However, how do you bring people to your soapbox to partake of the Kool-aid you're doling out?

    You need a megaphone

    You need some forum wherein you can succinctly give out information that will draw others back to your soapbox. You need something that is light-weight and is easily consumable with a minimum of effort.

    You need twitter.

    140 characters is not (generally) painful to consume. You can read a tweet and in a split second decide if it's something that your interested in. Thus, if you can craft your tweets to be compelling enough for folks to be interested, then you can use twitter to announce your new blogs.

    Of course, this necessitates having a following on twitter, but this is a recursive process. Your first few followers will likely be your friends or those you capture by chance. Consider, though, the phenomenon of the re-tweet. If what you have to say is compelling enough then there is a good chance those that follow you will RT your tweet to those that follow them, and on and on.

    Shameless self-promotion is of value here. If you think what you have to say has value, then there's no harm in promoting it. Someone else may find it of value, too. Remember, if it's profound enough for you to blog about, then it's probably profound enough for someone else to read.

    But, don't just limit your tweets to self-promotion! Tweet about things that fall in line with your brand or RT information that is compelling in and of its own right. If others begin to see you as a fount of useful information they're likely to buy into your Kool-aid.

    Mark Drapeau (@cheeky_geeky) has a great blog about "Expanding Your Twitter Base". His rule of thumb is provide valuable information to others on a regular basis.

    Shepherd your following

    Once you have others interested in your Kool-aid, you have to take care of them. Shepherd your following by interacting with them and acknowledging them. You can do this by responding to comments on your blog or by RT'ing interesting things that your followers aim at you. The main point is that you have to be involved in as personal a way as possible. If you're involved personally then others will be more inclined to recommend you to those that they know.

    Also, don't just fall off the face of the Earth for any lengthy amount of time. You have to keep the Kool-aid flowing! The more often you present new ideas and information, the more likely folks are to come back and see what the latest is. If you only post a blog once every 2 months, well, you're not going to have an easy time building a following. If, however, you are prolific poster and always provide value, you're likely to garner a larger following faster.