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8 What Your Social Profiles Should Say About You

It’s funny but a lot of people don’t think about their social profiles until they’re looking for a new job or new business situation. I’d like to suggest that you look at your social profiles as a key starting point in building a stronger digital footprint.

I know this sounds almost like remedial advice these days, so consider it a nice reminder of something you must certainly already know.


Social media profiles are part social proof, part brochure, and part SEO. So, why not treat them as the personal branding asset they can be.

Obviously, if you have not done so you certainly must claim a personal profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. Again, remedial advice perhaps, but I’m still running across people who don’t know why they would do this. The simple truth is that it’s branding real estate as much as it’s a new platform for engagement.

If you have done this consider adding Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit and Quora as well.

You might also consider employing a service such a KnowEm, which for a fee will claim your profile on a hundred or more social networks.

In addition, you can submit your personal name to the service BrandYourself to build a personal branding page and receive tips on how to get the profiles that actually represent you (not someone else with your name) to have a better chance of showing up on page one for searches.

A good social profile starts with a good photo.

Don’t settle for that phone “selfy” bounce shot off the mirror or the “look at how arty I can be” shot. (Okay, maybe those represent your brand accurately, but I’m guessing you’re a minority.)

Get a series of professional shots done. It doesn’t have to be the stiff studio shot either – add some character, get some outside shots, experiment with industrial backdrops – just make sure it’s well lit and composed.

The dating industry has lots of data on the impact of a profile picture when it comes to first impressions and, while you may not be looking for a mate, it can offer some instruction on best practices for profile pictures.

The dating site OK Cupid cataloged over 7,000 profile shots and correlated these profiles with amount of contacts received. While they discovered some obvious dos and don’ts in profile images, they also discovered that a simple change in facial attitude correlated with as much as a 30% increase in contacts. (Want to really test this take the My Best Face test)

Here are the basic findings of the study:

For Women: A flirty attitude away from the camera was the worse performing in terms of new contacts. While a flirty attitude or a smiling face toward the camera produced the best results.

For Men: A non-smiling, facing away from the camera profile picture producing more contacts. A flirty attitude for men is a definite no.

Again, dating and whatever it is you’re selling aren’t that closely related – or are they?

You may also want to check out some personal brand profile pages from services like Vizify and that allow you to build your own pages drawing from your social media participation and images you already have online. These sites can also aid your overall SEO optimization by giving you yet another piece of real estate with your branding elements and messages.

Resist the urge to cut and paste your resume

Unless you’ve created a really engaging resume – experience tells me not so much – then don’t turn your profile pages into the same boring data that make up most resumes.

Tell stories instead – focus on where you’ve been, what experience you’ve gained, what skills you’ve mastered and why. Write in first person (I believe not your name believes) and use an active and expressive tone.

Create a talking logo and use it as the subheading for your profile. Make sure you talk about your passions, even those outside of your obvious professional requirements. If you’ve climbed Mt Everest I want to know that.

Add a few highly relevant quotes from others such as customers, partners and employers.

And by all means create lots of links to relevant pages on your website, useful content you’ve created and all the other social networks you participate in.

You may also find that this style of personal profile building makes for a better About Us type page on your own site too. Here’s an example of one of my favorite About Us profile pages from leather goods maker Ryan Barr

8 Build Your Brand So People Will Refer You

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

As part of John Jantsch’s Referral Week, I’d like to focus on personal branding, as a way to become someone that people want to refer to others. I agree with John that the best way to grow a business is to get referrals because of how powerful word-of-mouth is. These days, it’s become more and more obvious that referrals can help you substantially build your brand presence, your web properties and your cash flow. The reason is because of the viral nature of the web, and how one video review of your service can morph into seven blog posts, six hundred tweets and a front page story on within twenty-four hours. Five years ago, this line of events was impossible, but today it happens all of the time.

Here are some ways to become a brand that people want to refer:

Be interesting: People, who are interested in you, as a person, are more inclined to connect with you, do business with you and refer you to their own personal network. Your personal brand is not only defined by your job or company, but also by the activities you participate outside of the office and your hobbies. It might be hard to connect with someone on a professional level, but you might be able to bridge the relationship by talking about your golf game or the last season of Lost.

Be valuable: There’s no question that experts are judged based on hard and soft results. It’s not just being valuable though, because all of your competitors can do that. You need to be unique and offer something your competitors don’t and compete on prestige and quality, rather than price. Online, if you’re seen as a valuable resource, the press will call on you, customers will be to work with you, and when all is said and done, and people will refer you to even their third degree network.

Be generous: It’s rare that people share others products and services before they receive a sample for free. “Free” builds trust, authority and generates attention. If you want to be referred by others, then you’re going to have to give before you receive. The more generous you are with your network, by providing them with resources, helpful links, reports and advice, the more you will get back in return.

Be enabled: How are people going to refer you to their network, unless you enable them to do so. By providing your email address on your web page and by allowing people to share your content through Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Google Buzz and others, people can find you. If you don’t enable your network and empower them to refer you, without much effort, then you won’t get as many referrals.

Be networking: The more people you meet, the larger network you have and thus, the more people that can refer you to others. Meeting people is quite easy now due to the connectivity of the internet. Try and locate people that you’re actually interested in and can benefit from your services, instead of someone random you see on Twitter.

Dan Schawbel is the bestselling author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, an award-winning blogger at Personal Branding Blog, the publisher of Personal Branding Magazine, a national speaker and consultant on branding and a BusinessWeek columnist. He’s been called a “Personal Branding Guru” by The New York Times and has been featured in over 150 media outlets.

9 Personal brand

Thoughts on Personal Branding

Marketing podcast with Dan Schawbel (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

Dan Schawbel has turned himself into the leading voice on personal branding for Gen-Y. Want to know how a guy, while at the time still in college, took on and seemingly won such an important marketing niche? (Think there aren’t lots of brands that want to own some 20 something mind share?) He did it with, duh, personal branding, and a ton of persistence and willingness to work his tail off. The guy gets what is to me the supreme compliment a marketer can receive – “I see him everywhere.” But, it’s not just being there, it’s being there on message, on brand, day in and day out. Anyone wanting to understand how to build a brand, personal or otherwise, could learn a thing of two from Dan.

For this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Dan joins me to talk about Personal Branding and his very successful book – Me 2.0.

In this podcast we cover:

  • What personal branding is
  • Important elements for personal branding
  • Ways to differentiate yourself
  • Who needs Personal Branding
  • If your business brand can be too personal?
  • Social media and personal branding
  • Steps to implement personal branding

I’ve expressed some of my own opinions about personal brand vs. business brand in the past, (business isn’t personal) and while I fall towards more of the business brand as a long term entrepreneurial play, there is no question that you can more easily achieve many of your personal and professional objectives by focusing on building a strong personal brand.