This is the time of year when people traditionally vacuum under the furniture, start home improvement projects and purge some of those unwanted items that tend to accumulate in attics and basements.
The concept of “spring cleaning” is actually quite old, going back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Persians were big believers in an annual top-to-bottom scrubbing of the home each spring.
Spring cleaning is an annual ritual. It’s healthy. It’s liberating; after uncluttering your home or office, you feel like you have a fresh start in your life.
Just as your home needs a good spring cleaning each year so, too, does your personal brand. Spring is a great time to assess how you are doing in your efforts to build and maintain a widely recognized and highly respected reputation. Here are a few tips to freshen up your personal brand and become a celebrity in your own sphere of interest:
>> Live actively and focus externally.
Be active and involved outside your home or office. Show up at networking events. Go out of your way to talk to people when you are in public venues. Remember that nearly 75 percent of all jobs are never advertised and a similar percentage of big clients come only from relationship-building.
>> Determine what is most interesting.
You need an “area of self-marketing expertise,” something about your business or career that is fascinating to people outside your profession. Feature this when you are networking or using social media.
>> Focus on results when networking.
When you go to networking events, go with a goal in mind. Sure, you should try to enjoy your conversations, but make it your mission to meet new people, find a good lead and learn about a golden opportunity.
>> Google yourself.
If you haven’t done a search on your name lately, see what’s out there. I guarantee that people are Googling you on a regular basis. A prospective client will probably Google you to know who he or she is dealing with before meeting with you. That’s why a Google trail is so important. If nothing or very little pops up when someone Googles you, there’s a problem — they’ll assume you don’t have much going on. Therefore, Google your own name on a regular basis. If you’re not very visible online, deliberately get your name out there to build an Internet presence.
>> Exploit social media.
Make sure you post material on social media sites that is interesting and not just inane trivial stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise. It’s not enough to just have a directory listing on social media. Interact with people, post updates, ask questions, endorse people, connect people with one another and participate in discussion groups.
>> Go Beyond the Big Three.
LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great, but don’t stop there. The more social media outlets you use, the better. Google+ is growing in importance. You can even use Pinterest to build a personal brand. Some professionals have received great benefit from placing short videos on YouTube.
>> Use your real name.
In order to build your celebrity status, use your real name when reviewing products on websites, making comments at the end of newspaper/magazine articles and posting comments on discussion forums. Just make sure the things you write help your personal brand as opposed to harming it.
>> Engage the media.
Volunteer your expertise to media outlets in your industry as well as your local market. Make a point to meet members of your local and industry media and build friendly relationships with them. In addition to traditional media, you can get a lot of mileage from doing blogs and podcasts.
>> Refresh your elevator speech.
Does your 20-second intro speech need updating? You need to be able to say what you do quickly, clearly and in a way that captures a person’s interest. A useful elevator speech also conveys how a person could benefit from what you do.
>> Never let up.
When things are good, don’t let complacency stop you from perpetually marketing yourself. When things are going poorly, don’t let discouragement be an excuse for apathy.
By giving your personal brand a good spring cleaning, you set yourself up for a prosperous and profitable summer. But remember this — spring cleanings last only so long. Your house stays clean only if you stay on top of things. The same thing applies to your personal branding efforts. If you neglect them, they’ll become a mess.
Jeff Beals is an Omaha author and speaker who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.