Last year I resolved to become more active in online networking. While I had worked in digital media for over a decade, I had neglected to build my own brand online. Sure, I was on Facebook and also on LinkedIn, but I didn’t have a Twitter account and had rarely found time to write about the industry. I was a good marketer for my clients, but I had neglected to fully market myself.
Apparently my efforts at brand building over the past six months have been productive. Assuming that a Klout score actually matters, I now have a rating of 55. While I’m far from a top score of 100 (unattainable Justin Bieber territory), my rating does put me in the general neighborhood of such New York media and technology luminaries as Dave Morgan (56), Fred Wilson (65) and Mike Lazerow (68).
Here are the four steps I took that seem to have improved my personal brand value:
I started writing. The most important first step I took to raise my profile was to begin writing the weekly column that you’re thankfully reading. The column forced me to think seriously about the industry. What is the future of media, advertising and technology? Will media agencies still be around in 10 years? Where do the best agencies and publishers go to drink after work? Attempting to answer these serious questions has greatly expanded my knowledge of the industry.
It should be said that writing a weekly column is a significant investment in time and energy. Occasionally, it can be difficult to come up with an original idea at all. And even if I have a good idea for column it can take a couple of days, on and off, to get it to the point where it is hopefully interesting. Writing six hundred coherent words every week is harder than it looks, at least for me.
I started a blog. Once I knew I was going to publish a column every week for MediaPost, I set up a blog called The Makegood, where I could republish my articles and present them as news. If Arianna Huffington could do it, why not me? Thanks to free blogging services like Wordpress, I was able to start publishing immediately.
But rather than just publish my own articles, I also used the blog as a platform to interview other professionals that I knew. This enabled me to learn more about the people and companies that were changing the face of media advertising. By highlighting these folks, the blog served as a way to not only raise my profile but theirs as well.
I joined Twitter. Twitter means different things to different people, but for me it mostly serves as an important professional networking tool. Through Twitter, I’ve met industry CEOs, journalists, agency executives, salespeople and basically a whole group of people who would have otherwise been inaccessible. It’s amazing what people will do for you if you just ask nicely.
Twitter has also provided a means of content distribution for my blog. Each time I post a new article, the links are pushed out through Twitter. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook now drive over 40% of the traffic to my blog, twice as much as search.
I attended industry events. Ironically, building your brand online still requires showing your face at offline events. No matter how much I stay in touch with people via Twitter and Facebook, it’s also important to physically meet and socialize with other professionals. Plus, they may even buy you a drink. That’s why I make a concerted effort to attend events like the IAB annual meeting, the 4A’s Transformation, and New York’s Advertising Week.
While it’s not a requirement (yet) for getting a good position in media advertising, building a strong personal brand online can be a very worthwhile investment.