Your Brand online has become just as significant as offline. A reality for the job seeker, business owner and the commodity consultant is the owner of your next opportunity will seek and decide online these days. If you can't be found, do you exist? If you are found, but not marketing yourself correctly as many struggle to do well, you might as well not exist.
The "hidden" market is not so much a secret for you anymore thanks to the ability to be found and stay on mind at times when you don't need it - so how do you get in the game?
- First you have to create a home base where people can find you. Whether it a self named blog (like mine is DavidSanduksy.netWORK), forum or profile on LinkedIn. There are many communities or social networks out there so do a little homework on what places make the most sense for your brand and networking goals. Use a dedicated personal email address when creating a profile like gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc.
- For online awareness in a business context, I mention LinkedIn because it has become the largest and I have personally used it since the beginning with success in helping others and myself. Having a LinkedIn account is FREE and easy to start. Build a profile that sizzles with the appropriate key words describing your value. Now you have a place to send people if you do not have a personal website of any kind when posting on other blogs and forums. There are resume building sites with a social networking opportunity built in - google to find what is good for you, but beware, many people only utilize during an active job search and like only networking during that time of need, that is a mistake.
- Post on other blogs and forums. Find sites with good traffic in areas where you can add value and, add value. With your brand in mind, what value do you add and to what audience? You must identify this. Hiring and/or building a personal board of advisors is a great idea many people do to make sure there is a great personal brand strategy in mind, you know how to market You, and you can test the important experience others have with you on and offline.
- Starting your own blog or forum community is a great idea if you have content worth sharing and/or a focus that is interesting for you and others important to knowing who you are. Remember, we are talking business context here with a focus on your brand vs. YouTube, myspace or other broad topic areas. Anyway, starting your own requires activity to be sure it is not stagnant. Yes, you can just put something up, but you might as well get traffic and even make a little money, right? Therefore, you need critical mass and participation with interesting content and ideas. You can email your contacts to invite participation and keep driving traffic to keep the site "alive". Again, activity on relevant blogs and forums with a link in a signature back to your blog or LinkedIn profile is a great organic way to drive traffic. It takes time.
For many people that work for someone else or on the market with no online presence, creating one is critical. Business owners who may only have an online brochure with no activity too. Something like LinkedIn and/or creating a blog is perfect for this. Then get out there and post on other sites. Without a place to send them when someone says, "Hey, that was insightful, I'd like to meet that person", your making a mistake. Do yourself a favor and create that online home base. Now when posting on other sites, link back to your home base. I see people on my company forum Your Brand, LLC Forums that register and even post without filling out the profile to tell us who they are? You would be doing yourself an even better favor by summerizing your activity and pitch with links in the Build Your Brand Online section. If you are going to add value, get noticed!