How to Build the 'Brand Called You' in an Online Era

Five Tips for Making That Happen

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In Tom Peters' Fast Company article "The Brand Called You," we were given a glimpse into the new world of work where success and advancement are directly proportional to the strength and consistency of your personal brand.
Career Distinction
This column was adapted from 'Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand,' by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson. Published by John Wiley & Sons.
The concept of Me Inc. is not new; after all, Mr. Peters' prophetic article was published a decade ago. What is new is the way you build your personal brand in the new millennium. To achieve the highest level of professional success and fulfillment today, you must augment your real-world brand-building activities with online personal branding.

Here are five tips for making that happen:


1. BE VIRTUALLY VISIBLE.

Being Googled is the new-millennium version of the reference check. Your Google results may be the determining factor in whether an executive recruiter calls you in for an interview or a prospective client decides to work with you. It's no longer a luxury; it's a requirement for you to build and continuously manage your online identity.


2. DETERMINE YOUR GQ (GOOGLE QUOTIENT).

Google yourself right now (type your name in quotes: "First name Last name") to determine your online identity. You can go to careerdistinction.com to calculate your results. From the results of your ego-surfing, determine which of the five scenarios best describes your online profile -- digitally disguised: there is absolutely nothing about you on the web; digitally dissed: there is little on the web about you; digitally disastrous: there is much information about you on the web, but it has little relevance to what you want to express about yourself; digitally dabbling: there is some on-brand information on the web about you, and what is there is relevant to your personal brand; or digitally distinct: there are lots of results about you and most, if not all, reinforce your unique promise of value.


3. KNOW YOURSELF TO GROW YOUR BRAND.

Of course, you can't build an online reputation unless you first articulate your unique promise of value –your personal brand. Invest in a solid understanding of your strengths, goals and compelling personal brand attributes. Revealing the way you think and the things about which you are passionate will help you establish virtual rapport and attract the right kind of opportunities.


4. BUILD YOUR BRAND IN BITS AND BYTES.

To craft the right web identity for your brand, maintain a blog, create a professional website, use online networking sites, publish online articles and participate in web-based communities. Use these vehicles wisely to cultivate a web presence that ensures you'll show up in search results the way you intend.


5. BE CONSTANT.

Even when you've reached digital distinction, the nirvana in the world of online identity, remember that your Google results can change as fast as the weather in New England. So regularly monitor your online ID.

The effort to market yourself in an integrated, differentiating way demonstrates that you are a savvy marketer. By expanding your online presence, connecting it with your real-world visibility, you put yourself directly on the path to true career distinction.
William Arruda is an executive coach, public speaker and author. He is the founder of Reach, a global personal branding consultancy.
Kirsten Dixson is a founding partner of Brandego and a partner in Reach. She is a contributor to more than 15 career books and a frequent speaker.
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