- Image via Wikipedia
- Image by thms.nl via Flickr
This is the fourth of four related blogs entitled “Dealing with Austerity – Personal Branding: the Next Frontier?”:
B. THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PERSONAL BRAND
I shall continue my personal story and case study on the development of the Dr Alf Oldman brand. From my web site, I was aware that I was consistently getting No. 1 rating from Google and became fascinated by the hits that I generated. Publishing a book or two has an amazing impact on Google ratings. After my high-profile assignment at UNESCO, I published my fully authorized case study of my intervention. Today my professional web site includes three high-profile cases: UNESCO, PartyGaming and ONS. I soon learned that authorized, named and detailed case studies were important original material for search engines – I discovered that original and high quality material was the magic elixir for search engines. After UNESCO in 2003, I did a bit of a makeover of my web site, reinforcing the marketing proposition – the result was to stay unchanged for the next ten years and constantly scoring No. 1 on Google. By now, I was conscious that Alf Oldman was a successful brand.
My next challenge was LinkedIn. I was a very early user of LinkedIn and very rapidly had a thousand plus followers. I regularly joined groups up to the maximum of fifty, and then purged them when I tired of the same old waffle. Of course, LinkedIn has a place in personal brand management but it is too easy for it to take too much time, without effective payback. Early on in my experience with LinkedIn, I answered a question asking for clarification of a PhD compared to a DBA. Well I scored the top answer and that answer has been republished many times on the web, so that now I am something of an authority on choice of PhD Vs. DBA. It’s really important to develop specialist expertise and be known publicly for it as well. I had scored my No. 1 on LinkedIn.
Quality really matters. I would always suggest being cautious in what you say on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook – this data potentially remains publicly available to search engines indefinitely. There is no point in trying to build a brand if you have previously published poor quality, contentious material on the web – it detracts from the brand value.
C. THE MATURITY OF A PERSONAL BRAND
I was probably most active on LinkedIn in 2008/9. By 2010, I was frustrated with LinkedIn, with its endless circular postings from people with similar labels, for example: interim, consultant, independent executive, executive interim manager, interim executive etc. Late in 2010, I consciously slashed my number of LinkedIn groups and chose only to respond on specialist subjects. This practice was to continue into 2011. A good example of an exception was my thread on the Euro Crisis which generated over three hundred postings. In summary, I had recognized that LinkedIn was too incestuous and was becoming a constraint on my brand development.
Early in 2011, I took a bold decision to launch a personal blog, and a Twitter account. It is important to stress that I had virtually no knowledge of blogs or Twitter at the start of this journey. Following some research, I re-branded myself Dr Alf Oldman and my Twitter profile reads:
Retired, former Independent Executive, Consultant, Coach, Researcher & Author. Passionate about People, Networking, Politics & Travel
Similarly, the strap-line for the Dr Alf Oldman blog reads:
Retired, former independent executive, consultant, coach, researcher & author. Passionate about people, networking, politics & travel. Now that I am retired plan to travel extensively for a few years and blog about it, plus my reflections & insights on what’s happening in the World!
After careful research, I had refreshed my personal brand and had gone broad, embracing “areas of passion” that contained enormous, fresh content on the web every day. For example, politics, news and travel were top themes for blogging and micro-blogging. I had learned that to attract followers, it was necessary to be passionate about content. So my blogging was designed to be original content from myself plus my views on secondary content. My profile on my blog is in complete harmony with my Twitter profile, my blog strap-line, and, of course my LinkedIn profile.
After ten months, I have a very active blog and micro-blog (Twitter). Marshalling and publishing the content, whether it be original or my views on secondary material has been enormously interesting. My exploratory journey continues but I am currently ranked No. 1 on Twitter in my location of Bath, UK!
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have drawn the line and consciously moved on from my professional activities of the last twenty years. It is a bit strange that after twenty years, I am unable to switch Google off and it continues to generate hits and reinforce my brand. Carefully crafted blogs and micro-blog entries on Twitter are giving Google more and more original and quality content, so the magic elixir remains as strong as ever.
D. REDEPLOYMENT OF A PERSONAL BRAND
As I ponder my future and start life on the other side of the line (perhaps this will be a heading for a future blog), I am challenged as to how to deploy the brand that I have created to add value to future activities.
Before closing, let’s quickly remind the reader that according to business guru Tom Peters, there are four basic qualities needed to build a personal brand:
- Be a great teammate and supportive colleague
- Be an exceptional expert at something that has real value ability
- Be a broad gauged visionary, a leader, a teacher, a far-sighted “imaginer”, and
- Be a business person, obsessed with pragmatic outcomes
It is hoped that my personal case study will provide others with some inspiration and opportunity to reflect on their circumstances, especially my low-cost success on the web, achieving:
- Reaching and retaining number one status on Google
- Becoming number one specialist on LinkedIn
- Ranking number one on Twitter in a specialist area
Developing a personal brand is not a panacea and it is certainly not for everybody. Also there is no point in investing the huge personal committment in personal branding unless you are successful.
However, in times of austerity, the principles of personal branding are of value to a wider audience and I provide some references at the foot of this blog for self-help and further personal reflection.
Remember that if you do not build your own brand, you will be competing with all the other commodity players in the crowded market place. This applies whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties. Whilst personal branding is probably most appropriate to professionals, there is no reason why the principles are not relevent to skilled workers or owners of small businesses too.