In 2007, the Pew Internet & American Life study found that one in ten internet users had a job that required them to self-promote or market their name online. Two years later, it found that the share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years, from 8% in 2005 to 35%, and it’s very likely that with the internet being at the front and center of international business, this proportion will continue to increase in step.
There’s no doubt that doing business as an individual or in a team internationally has become much easier with the advent of the internet, new networking technologies and more diverse ways of collaborating. But, as can be seen by the statistics above, the ability to differentiate from the competition is much more difficult as more and more people join business networks, use job-hunting sites and build their professional brand online.
Personal digital branding is just beginning to emerge as a new tool for recruiters and career managers to help differentiate people online. It’s only been in the past year or two that celebrities and sports stars have started really thinking about personal branding online in a consolidated fashion, especially in light of new ‘celebrities’ being launched from sites like YouTube (think Susan Boyle). So if it can work for them, it can certainly work for you. Here are three tools to help you stand out further from the crowd.
Be Social, Go Glocal
What’s glocal?! It’s the ability to talk about local issues on a global stage, using social media. Basically, you have an expertise that you can share that may be best expressed using local examples. You can share the benefit of your experience on a global platform by utilizing all of the free social media channels at your disposal, enabling you to have a global voice. It’s not just blogging these days – although ‘long form’ content is still extremely useful for search engines, and it’s important to consider easy-to-use platforms that can be branded with your personal brand such as Posterous, which can be updated from email. Micro-blogging, like Twitter or Google Buzz, can enable you to tell your story to a whole bunch of people. Qik enables you to tell your story via the medium of video. All of these can generate a good footprint online for you, but you need to keep the momentum up.
Take Control of Your Online Presence
You may already be utilizing social media sites such as Twitter, which enable people to converse and market to potential customers at incredibly low cost. That’s a positive and controllable way of engaging with potential customers (as long as you don’t drunk-tweet – what goes online can potentially stay online forever!). However, how do you maximize the potential of your efforts in social media, and point people to the things online that you want them to see (and perhaps fewer of the things you don’t want them to see)?
The best way to do this is to centralize all of the things you want people to see and where you want them to interact with you under a .tel name. A .tel domain gives you the benefits of discoverability and ownership that a traditional domain brings, but without the hassle of having to build and pay monthly for hosting and developing your own site. It’s proven to be an excellent resource for individuals using free resources for blogging, but wishing to be found in an authoritative place online under their control, where they share what they want to share. From as little as $ 10 per year, you can brand yourself under your own .tel domain name and easily change the information quickly as you need to. These domains can also act as a single point of contact for customers.
There’s no doubt that more niche business networking sites are starting to ‘up’ their game in terms of the quality of relationships that can be built on their platforms. Joining LinkedIn, Viadeo or Xing will bring benefits, especially from the networking groups that are starting to appear on things like LinkedIn. With more integration of Twitter and other elements into these business networks, the ability to promote a professional side to online networking is really starting to come to the forefront.
Marketing yourself, your skills and your potential is now one of the most important things you can do as a professional. Take time to implement a few of these easy online marketing tools to help stand out from your competition.