The A to Z guide to personal branding

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not around. It is how the world sees you. It is your reputation. It is who you are. It is what you value. It is your unique perspective on the world.

In today’s digital age, personal branding is not optional.

A powerful personal brand has its benefits. You can take control of your online identity and influence the perception other people have about you. It can help you to attract opportunities such as a promotion, a new job, a new client, or a new speaking opportunity.

By establishing yourself as an expert on certain topics, you can become a “go-to” source of information. Creating your successful personal brand will require time and effort but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

It starts with understanding and mastering the fundamentals.

Here is your A to Z guide to personal branding:

Accountable

Personal branding is your individual responsibility. That is why it is called personal. No one should manage your brand but you. We are all chief executive officers (CEOs) of our own companies and our job is to be the chief marketing officer (CMO) of the brand called you.

Balance

In today’s age, it is important to distinguish between your personal and professional brand by understanding your audience. One of the easiest ways to balance personal and professional is through your bio. For example, your bio on LinkedIn will be different than your bio on Facebook. Most likely, some of your followers will track down all your social media accounts so it is up to you on who you “let in” into your social networks by accepting or ignoring their connection requests. It is critical to balance your personal and professional brand to make sure that your digital body language is what you want others to know.

Content

It is important to create compelling, entertaining and helpful content through your blog and/or submitting content as a guest contributor to other publications/blogs. By providing a consistent amount of content over time, you will earn a reputation as an expert on the content you publish.

Delete

Think of the Internet as a copy machine. It is easy to replicate but tough to delete. For example, social media platforms like Twitter are easy to delete while others like Pinterest are impossible. If you don’t like what you see online, you need to act using tools like justdelete.me.

Elevator Pitch

If you were in the elevator with your future boss or the CEO of your company, could you tell that person who you are in 30 seconds or less? That is your elevator pitch. Learn how to quickly develop your elevator pitch.

Fad

Is personal branding a fad? Nope. Look at the growth of the words “personal brand” in Google Trends from 2004 to the present. In a survey of hiring managers, 56 percent of them admit candidates that have a personal website are highly impressive. To beat your competition and find that dream job, you need to have a strong personal brand. Your current company should be helping your build that personal brand or you should think about leaving that company for that one that will. According to Fast Company, personal branding is essential to career success.

Generous

Expressing gratitude and generosity are qualities that make people remember you. Being noticed is critical in building your personal brand. By being generous, you build goodwill and are associated with positive feelings. This will help you open the door to new opportunities and experiences.

Habit

A habit is doing something that you don’t have to think about it. There are good habits and bad habits. Make sure you cultivate good habits like exercise, helping others, being proactive, and developing your leadership skills. Learn the 10 habits for building a personal brand.

Identity

Your personal brand helps you clearly and consistently define and communicate who you are. There are three key components of your personal brand identity: 1) who you are and what you do;  2) why you do it; 3) your tagline.

Job

Your brand will tell employers why you are a good fit for their company and how you can help them reach their business objectives. Your personal brand must shine in your resume, your cover letter and your online presence such as your LinkedIn profile or your personal website. Learn why your personal brand is essential for getting a job.

KISS

Keep it simple, stupid (KISS). If you understand a topic, you know how to explain it simply. People who have strong personal brands can communicate complex topics in simple terms. Learn the 10 ways use to KISS principle to simplify your life.

LinkedIn

If there one social media platform that you should be on to develop your personal brand, it is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media platforms of all the social media networks. LinkedIn demonstrates what you are all about and it shows others what your colleagues think about you in a professional way (think: recommendations and endorsements). Learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile in 10 steps.

Manage

Your personal brand is changing daily as you learn and grow. It is important that you manage your personal brand like a company manages its company brand. As it evolves, it is important to keep tabs on it. It is important to do the tough work up front like crafting your elevator pitch and updating your LinkedIn profile so you can reap the rewards in the future. Learn why managing your personal brand is like being a scientist that fails 85 percent of the time in their quest to discover the right formula and breakthrough.

Name

Your name is powerful. It is the main thing that people ask for when they meet you. It is one of the most important means by which someone can identify and refer to you. It is something that we use every day but we don’t realize how important it is until someone misspells it or mispronounces it. It is one of the most unexploited tools in personal branding. If your name is common, it is more difficult to brand yourself so you may want to use your middle name (think Samuel L. Jackson, Michael J. Fox, Stephen A. Smith), your professional career (think @prsarahevans) and your significant other (think 14 best celebrity super couple nicknames).

Objectives

As part of personal branding 101, the overall goal with branding yourself is to differentiate yourself in the marketplace so you can attain your objectives. What are your objectives or goals? It is important to define those so you can better define yourself and how you are different. To be hired, you must first be found.

Proactive

Don’t wait for things to happen to you. It is critical to proactively manage your personal brand so you can control how the world sees you. The more active you are in managing your personal brand, the more control you have over your life. There are many things you can proactively do such as launch your blog, update your LinkedIn profile, create your bio, build your network, get a new headshot, update your personal website, or learn new skills.

Quarterly

Check-in on your personal brand and online identity, at least quarterly. It could be as simple as emailing your network quarterly. It is important to build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues, and others you trust so they are helping you polish and refine you and your personal brand.

Reputation

Do you Google yourself and find another person with your same name pops on the screen? If your answer to that question is “yes” then you will want to monitor and be proactive about your personal brand and online reputation. There are 10 key steps for creating a successful personal brand.

Storytelling

Storytelling is one of the most critical ways to make your personal brand shine and grab the attention of your audience, grow your network and build stronger relationships. It is one of the main components of good marketing. Remember, you are the CEO and CMO of the brand called you. Your storytelling abilities set the foundation for your brand and provide a strategy for future growth. Learn how to define your personal brand using storytelling.

Tools

There are many apps, websites, and tools that you can use to help you build your personal brand. Here are 10 free tools to help you develop your personal brand.

Unicorn

A unicorn is a legendary or mythical creature that has a horn coming out from its forehead. A unicorn person is someone who has very specific skills who can jump in without any training and work magic. To really differentiate yourself, it is critical to market yourself as a unicorn who delivers a lot of value and is rare.

Value

What can you offer in terms of your talents, skills, network, etc. that will add value to people’s lives? For example, are you asking the right questions during a discussion at work? Are you helping someone improve their LinkedIn profile? Are you helping someone find a job by using your network? Are you proofreading someone’s resume?

Warmth

With your personal brand, you shouldn’t over-emphasize your competence and skills and appear cold. To exert influence, it is important to balance competence with warmth.

Xenagogy

Xenagogy is a guidebook. You may want to read the complete guide to building your personal brand to learn more about personal branding.

You

Opportunities will find you when you have a strong personal brand. Your personal brand is about you and what you stand for: your values, your abilities, your skills, your network and your actions. What is the overall impression you want people to have of you? Create your personal brand statement to proactively address this upfront.

Zig Zag

To be different and differentiate yourself, it is critical to do the exact opposite everyone else does so you stand out. Learn the zig-zag method for catching attention and building credibility.

What are the letters of your personal brand?

What words would you add this A to Z list?

How to be a guest contributor on 10 popular websites

Becoming a guest contributor on a popular website is a great way to build your personal brand. Publications are always looking for new contributors. However, pitching guest blogging proposals and becoming a guest contributor at popular websites can be time-consuming for you.

Each website has different requirements and instructions. Some require topic pitches, some full articles and some require abstracts.

To help you save time on sorting through the requirements and gathering information, we scoured the top websites for their submission guidelines and instructions on how to be a guest contributor.

Remember, it is important you submit an authentic and original article on a topic that is relevant to each of these website’s readership. And before you submit anything, make sure you spend time reading the website’s articles so you understand what the website likes to publish.

Make sure that your articles are well written and well researched. The better you write, the less work it is for editors. Ensure you have a firm grasp of your topic. You may want to follow up in a firm but polite way with a brief follow-up email if you haven’t heard back in a week or so.

Here is a quick overview of the publications and how to contribute to the website with instructions and guidelines:

1. Forbes

About: Forbes.com is a website that focuses on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles.

To contribute: To be a regular contributor, you need to fill out this Google Docs form. The form will ask you for your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, the concept for your “Forbes page” such as overall theme and story ideas. It will also ask you why you are expert on the topic, and you will need to provide samples of your work.

2. Huffington Post

About: Huffington Post is a publication that covers news, blogs and original content about U.S. politics, entertainment, style, world news, technology, and comedy.

To contribute: According to their contact page, visit this Google Doc page to submit your blog idea and your bio. They are looking for succinct, shareable and satisfying articles. Here is a helpful blog post on how to become a regular contributor. If you are a current contributor to Huffington Post, read this article.

3. Fast Company

About: Fast Company is a popular online business publication that covers technology, ethical economics, leadership and design. It says it is written for progressive business leaders to inspire readers and users ‘to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business,” according to their About page.

To contribute: According to their guidelines for submitting articles, your articles should be between 750 and 900 words and be exclusive for Fast Company. They need to be complete and unpolished articles that are intended for Fast Company’s audience. Articles should have a tone appropriate to Fast Company and be written by a person, not a PR department. They are only accepting articles for their leadership section. Articles should be submitted to Associate Editor Rich Bellis at rbellis@fastcompany.com. They don’t want pitches, abstracts, outlines, press releases, or interview offers.

4. Entrepreneur

About: Entrpreneur.com is a publication geared toward business owners who are starting and growing their businesses. They cover actionable information and practical tips for startups.

To contribute: To become a contributor, fill out the form on their contributor page. It is almost identical to the Forbes contributor form in that they want to know your contact information, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, themes, story ideas, why you are expert on the topic, and samples of your work.

5. Inc.com

About: Inc.com is an online publication that writes articles for small businesses. They provide entrepreneurs with advice and tools.

To contribute: Visit their contact page to learn more and under “contributing to Inc.” they say to be a regular columnist, email contributors@inc.com. They don’t clarify on what they are looking for but your email should follow what Forbes contributor form and Entrepreneur contributor page are looking for with submissions.

6. Business Insider

About: Business Insider is a business publication that covers industry topics such as financial, media and technology.

To contribute: According to their contact page, you should email contributor@businessinsider.com. According to how to contribute to Business Insider page, you should send a final draft of your article, a proposed headline, a brief bio, and links to other articles you have published. You may want to review their authors’ page to get an idea about what other contributors are writing about.

7. Business2Community

About: Business2Community is a publication that covers breaking news and top trends in social media, digital marketing, content marketing, social selling and social business.

To contribute: To contribute, visit their become a contributor page. You will then need to read their contributor guidelines and fill out their online application form that includes your contact information, your website, and three writing samples that show that you know the topic and you have quality blog posts.

8. Social Media Today

About: Social Media Today provides news, trends and best practices on social media and digital marketing.

To contribute: To contribute, there are two ways. You can register with the website to create posts that go directly to the website. They are looking for bloggers who want to provide exclusive posts that meet Social Media Today’s standards. You can also set up your account to take in posts from the RSS feed of your blog. Social Media Today can pick from those posts to post on their blog. To learn more, visit their blogger approval and posting page.

9. Mashable

About: Mashable is a publication that prides itself on being the “go-to source” for technology, digital culture and entertainment content.

To contribute: To contribute, visit their submit news page. Fill out the form on the page to submit a pitch, tip or article. They will ask you what type of submission: exclusive story, a news update, a hot tip, an editorial suggestion or other.

10. PRDaily.com and Ragan.com

About: PR Daily is a daily news website that delivers news and advice about the PR, marketing, social media and traditional media worlds. Ragan.com delivers practice advice, real-world solutions and field-tested strategies for today’s communicator.

To contribute: To become a contributor to PRDaily.com and Ragan.com, visit the submit news page. They are looking for basic contact information, topic and your article. They will want to know if it is an aggregated news story, original story or column, a previously published blog post, a tip or other.

What other popular websites would you add to this list?

Optimize your LinkedIn profile: 10 steps you should take

LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media networks. Professionals sign up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second.

I have had the opportunity to LinkedIn to hundreds of Forsythe Technology employees and students at Duke University.

Here are 10 things every career professional should do to optimize their LinkedIn profile.

1. Update your profile information

Make sure you add all of your basic info such as your full name, title at your company, location, correct industry, and company (linked to your company’s page).

Some key points to remember:

  • Add a custom background. The image should not be distracting and should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels in size.
  • Include a professional photo. Make sure you take the time to get a real professional picture taken by a photographer. Taking it on a white background is the recommended but it is up to you.
  • Your name should ONLY contain your name. Please avoid adding any additional titles, acronyms or credentials. Please keep your name clean and concise.

2. Customize your public profile URL

When customizing your LinkedIn profile, aim to just have your full name without anything else. If you have a more common name (sorry, John Smith) then you might have to resort to a slight modification. If you can’t add your full name consider adding your middle initial or “your company name” at the end of it. If you leave your company, you can always edit it.

3. Add important websites

Add important websites (LinkedIn limits you to three). Make sure you check off “other,” then add the Website title and URL so people quickly understand the website title. It is better to use “Other” than “Company Website” or any other pick list items LinkedIn provides.

4. Add or tweak your Summary section

Ensure your LinkedIn profile Summary section captures your overall career and specifically your current role at your company and how you help others and your company’s clients. This summary section is basically your elevator pitch in written form. Remember, LinkedIn is not your resume so make sure you are always writing in first person.

5. Make sure you have company logos for each of your positions in your Experience section

Go through your Experience section and make sure you have logos for each of your old positions. Please go to “change company” and find the correct company to ensure the company logo is set up. If your company was acquired by another company, find the acquired company, link it to that and then in Edit Display Name, change to XXX (acquired by XXX).

6. Add articles, blog posts, videos or work samples to your LinkedIn profile

Under your Summary section and past positions in Experience, there is the capability to “add a link” to your profile. Go to your Summary and add articles or blog posts you have written. Or you may want to add videos or samples of your career work.

7. Update your Skills and Endorsements page

Take a proactive approach to editing your endorsements by adding skills you want to be known for with your network. For example, you may want to add “Team Leadership” to your skills. You can’t change the order of these endorsements because LinkedIn has them ranked by number of endorsements for particular skills and orders them accordingly.

8. Follow companies to keep up-to-date with your ecosystem

At the top of LinkedIn in the black header, go to the white search bar and find some companies you want to follow. There are four main categories of companies that you should follow: 1) analysts; 2) partners; 3) competitors; and 4) clients.

9. Connect with “People You May Know” to grow your network

Make sure you have at least 501 people but only connect with people you know. LinkedIn will show how many connections you have until you hit 500. Once you reach over 500 connections, LinkedIn will continue to count. It says “500+” connections on your profile. Remember: People like to connect with “connected” people.

10. Update your LinkedIn status at least once a week and/or write via LinkedIn publisher

One of the pillars to social media success is how many people view your profile and sharing content consistency. Be sure to update your LinkedIn status daily or at least once a week with something that provides value to your network. You may want to put a reminder on your calendar to share an article. You should also think about publishing through LinkedIn.

What steps would you add to this list?

10 tips for getting more done with less effort

These days it seems like we don’t have enough time in the day to do everything we need to do. How often have you heard: There are not enough hours in the day! I have no time to work out. I don’t have enough time for social media. Whatever the excuse is, we all have a lot on our plate. The question is: how does one find more time in the day?

Here are 10 time management tips that you may be overlooking:

1. Ask smart questions about your email inbox

Let’s face the facts. We live in our email inbox—whether it is your work or personal email. Are we asking ourselves the right questions when it comes to our email? Can this email wait until later? Does this email need my attention right away? Can I direct that person to someone else? Am I really ever going to ever respond to this email? Is this email just an FYI, is there action required or is it for my files? The key is to be aggressive when it comes to your email inbox. Will you really need this email 6 months or a year from now? No? Delete. You may want to read 4 steps to inbox zero.

2. Keep your emails short and sweet

Don’t send one-word emails but get to the point fast. As they say in the journalism world: don’t bury the lead. For example, change the email subject line when an email changes topics. You may want to read 6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself where it talks about that you should think about your emails like you do with your tweets (limit them to 140 characters or less.

3. Take advantage of web tools

Like it or not, organizations and users are going to the cloud. Think Adobe’s acceleration its shift to the cloud. Learn how to take advantage of web tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and free tools like Pixlr Editor. File sharing tools are also making it easier for collaboration. You may want to read 22 file-sharing tools for easy collaboration.

4. Pick web browsers that don’t slow your system down

Internet Explorer has features that slow your browser experience down so users are switching to Mozilla’s Firefox or Google Chrome that are faster and include useful features like bookmark syncing. Chrome has recently passed Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular web browser. The key is to get the most of your web browser space with extensions like Hootsuite’s Hootlet and minimizing bookmark icons. You may want to read 6 ways to maximize your browser real estate.

5. Lose the clutter in your work or home office

Do you have a lot of clutter in your work or home office? Clutter can drain you. It can frustrate you. It can make it difficult for you to accomplish things. You should think about how you cause clutter and how your office or home design creates clutter. Working in the right workspace can help you get more done with less effort.

6. Discover how you are spending your time

How do you spend your time every day? You may want to fill out your own Wheel of Productivity. Then, give it a hard look. Are you spending enough time to the colors that matter most to you? Another good way to find out how you are spending time is to fill out your calendar with tasks you accomplished that hour or half hour. Then, look over the past month. What did you accomplish? When did you accomplish the most—the morning or the evening? If you don’t know already, it may tell if you are morning person or evening person. You may want to read how your body clock affects your life.  

7. Get your calendar under control

Don’t fill up your calendar with standing meetings. These meetings may be good if you are not doing anything else but evaluate whether certain meetings have taken their course and need to be restructured or canceled altogether. Another way to reduce time is by bundling meetings by location. If you are traveling back and forth from a certain location, reduce the travel time by booking all your meetings in that location in one day. As Stephen Covey said, “the key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Are you investing in your time the right way?

8. Run meetings more effectively

You have probably been in those meetings are a waste of time. Do they start on time? It is common across corporate America for meetings to be a waste of time, not fun, and to start late. So how does a meeting run more effectively? Have the person who organized the meeting discuss the goals of the meeting. Make sure that he or she gives “homework” assignments either before or after the meeting, so people know what to expect for the meeting or what to do for before the next meeting. Another time is to book the meeting for the length you need. Most meetings will go the full 30 minutes or hour if that time is booked for that. As Parkinson’s Law states: “work will fill the time available for its completion.”

9. Manage your energy not your time

The key to managing your energy is to take breaks every 90 minutes. It helps you better work with your body’s natural rhythms. It is a simple concept: spend energy more wisely and you will have more of it. The key is to be conscious of the ways you are building rest and renewal into your day. You may want to read 6 ways to use less energy to get more done.  

10. Get a good night’s sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. How much sleep you need depends on you and as we get older. Adults generally need seven to eight hours but according to a national health interview survey, nearly 30 percent of adults report getting less than six hours of sleep. To make sure you get the sleep you need, try to go to bed the same time every night, avoid large meals before you go to bed, and avoid caffeine and alcohol right before bed. You also need to get good, deep sleep. You want to ready about an iPhone app that promises no more sleepless nights.

In the end, managing your time well is taking the time to ensure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.

What productivity tips would you add to this list?

10 steps to building and managing your personal brand

“All of us need to understand the importance of branding… we are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. … our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you,” wrote Tom Peters in Fast Company.

Are you branding yourself in everything you do and developing and refining your personal brand?

What is a personal brand?

Personal branding is also known as your career or professional brand. It is the way you present yourself to your colleagues and your network online and off. With the growth of LinkedIn, blogging, social networking and people use search engines all the time, it is important to portray your brand in a positive professional light. Just like a company differentiates itself to stand out from its competitors by identifying and articulating its unique value proposition, you should do the same. If you take a proactive approach to your personal brand, it can benefit your career.

There are 10 key steps to help you develop and take control of your personal brand.

1. Search the major search engines to search your name and its variations

What are the search engines saying about you? Is there someone else in the world that has your same name? Is your identity correct online? If there are variations of your name, have you search those names? The first place to start with your personal brand, especially online, is to find out what is being said about you and what information comes up first in the search engines about you.

2. Clean up your web presence

Are you looking to do some “spring cleaning” because you don’t like what you see? You may want to erase some of yourself from the Internet by using a tool like justdelete.me. This website ranks the process of erasing yourself from easy to impossible. Social networks like Twitter are easy to delete while others like Pinterest are impossible.

3. Proactive create your online reputation with free tools

Create your own personal website that lists all of our social networks with a free tool such as about.me Or brandyourself.com that will give you a letter grade relating how your name ranks in search results. Read 10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputationAlso, launch a blog (see step 7).

4. Claim your social media profiles and your personalized URL on LinkedIn

Have you protected yourself from cyber squatters when it comes to your social media profiles? To ensure you secure your desired username or vanity first, visit namechk.com to see if it is still available. You should also secure your personalized URL on LinkedInIt also may worth creating a Google+ account to ensure you should up on the right-hand column of search results. You may want to create a Twitter account to share helpful information with others. I found that my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to show up near the top of my search results since I share a lot of articles through these networks.

5. Buy your own domain name (even if you are not using it yet)

Do you own the URL of your name or blog name? If not, you should secure it at a website registrar like godaddy.com or networksolutions.comYou may want to read 3 reasons why buying a domain name for your child is a good ideaBy owning your own domain name, you can be sure that if you use that URL, you will rank high in search results. If you don’t own your name, you are leaving your online reputation in the hands of the unknown. Purchasing your name is about $15 a year. Read why you need a domain strategy

6. Set up an ongoing monitoring alert system

It is important to constantly monitor what is being said about you online. Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alertsa free alternative to Google Alerts. When you create the alerts, make sure you put your name with and without quotation markets. You should also include the different variations of your name.

7. Launch a blog where you can publish content and show your perspectives

I found that my blog is ranked within the top 5 search results in Google. You may want to create and publish content on your blog using a platform like wordpress.com or blogger.comRead best free blogging websitesWhen you do start up a blog, remember the Internet is a copy machine. Think before you publish. If you get angry or emotional reacting to something you see online or someone else is provoking you, you may want to email yourself first or ask yourself: would my parents, friends or colleagues like to read this post? A blog is a great way to demonstrate your personal brand. It helps you position yourself in a way that you want to be seen. A blog helps you grow your network beyond your work colleagues, may position yourself as a thought leader at your company, demonstrates your expertise on a topic or topics and shows that you know how to write and communicate (skills your current and potential future employer value).

8. Take some time to get to know yourself and share helpful content on a regular basis

What do you want others to think of you as online? What types of articles do you share with others? Are they personal growth articles, leadership articles, career articles? What do you want to be known for? Your personal brand reflects who you are. It is important to really know your strengths and weaknesses and do what you love. If you can’t blog, do you share useful tips to your colleagues about the industry you work in or how to do PR or marketing better? By learning who are you and what you are good at, you can better take control of your personal brand.

9. Create your elevator pitch and key messages

Just like a company brand creates its elevator pitch of who the company is, why it is unique and different, and why you should care, the same goes with your personal brand. Do you have your elevator pitch created and validated? What are your core or key messages? A good example of where you should really have your elevator pitch down is your LinkedIn summary section or your bio page on your blog. That paragraph or two should sum up your personal brand in a short, concise and compelling way.

10. Develop a feedback loop with those you trust and evolve your personal brand

Just like company brands change over time, your personal brand is constantly changing and evolving. As you gain more work and life experiences, your brand changes to reflect who you are at work and in life so it important to build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues and others you trust so they are helping you polish and refine you and your personal brand.

As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Do you know people are saying about your personal brand online and off? Are you taking steps to build, polish and refine it? The key is to remember your personal brand is more than just your job, it is your career. It is the brand called you!

What helpful tips would you add to this list?

10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputation

Do you Google yourself and find another person with your same name pops on the screen? Want to prevent a recruiter from seeing those drunk college photos that your friends posted on Facebook? Want others find out quickly who you are, what you do and what content you are sharing online?

If your answer to all those questions is “yes” then you will want to monitor and be proactive about your personal brand and online reputation.

Managing your personal brand and online reputation is not an easy task but here are 10 free tools that can help you.

1. BrandYourself 

This website is a great way to manage and take ownership of your search results. This tool makes sure that the search engines like Google and Bing find the “real” you and not someone else who may have a name close to your name (or in some cases the same name). It helps you put your most relevant results at the top and improves your personal brand.

BrandYourself

2. About Me 

This website helps you create your own personal homepage that is a central place for all of your online website properties like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and blog. This tool can help you improve your presence on the web and help others quickly learn about who you are and what you share online.

About.Me

3. Social Mention 

This tool sends you alerts of your keywords. It analyzes when you are mentioned and how important those mentions really are. In other words, it is social media search engine. It searches user-generated content like blogs, bookmarks, comments, and videos.

SocialMention

4. Who’s Talkin? 

This tool is similar to SocialMention in that it alerts you of your mentions. It helps you search for conversations that you care about the most.

whos-talkin

5. NameChk 

Want to know if your name is available on a social network? This tool is helpful in making sure you secure your domains and don’t let cybersquatters steal your name on social networks. It helps you figure out if your desired social media username or URL is still available on tons of social networks.

namechk

6. HootSuite 

This tool helps you manage and measure your social media presence in one simple dashboard. You can manage multiple social media profiles, schedule messages, and tweets, track mentions of your name and analyze social media traffic.

hootsuite

7. Google Alerts 

These alerts are still a must-do today for searching for the keywords you want to know about such as your name or nickname. It also helps you stay up-to-date on keywords you are interested in like public relations, content marketing, brand journalism or social media.

google-alerts

8. SquareSpace

This website helps you create your own website which helps you improve your personal brand. According to their website, their mission is “empower millions of people … to share their stories and create an impactful, stylish, and easy-to-manage online presence.”

squarespace_stories

9. Yasni 

This tool can help you search for a phone number, email address, profession and location of any person. The tool provides news and links about any individual.

yasni

10. Naymz 

This tool measures and manages your social reputation. This tool gives you a score based on how people find you. You can calculate your social influence and earn badges/endorsements of your strong reputation and influence like Klout does.

Naymz

What free tools have you found helpful to manage your personal brand and online reputation?

10 tips to become a more successful PR pro

In today’s ultra-competitive PR world you need to find ways to stand out. Following are 10 things that continue to help me become a more successful PR pro. I hope they help you, too.

1. Do your homework

A mass pitch never amasses a lot of coverage. Before you pitch a journalist or blogger, know what they cover. Research their past stories and fine tune your pitch to appeal to their audience.

2. Learn something new

Take a training course. Sign up for a conference. Go back to school. Take an online certification like HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification. You may find out you know more than you think.

3. Become a better writer.

Practice being a “headline communicator” by learning how to hook your audience with your first five words. Find creative ways to flex your writing muscle. Become a contributing author to an industry publication. Start your own blog or write for your company’s blog.

4. Develop deeper relationships

Remember how powerful and memorable handwritten thank you notes are in today’s online world. Look for new and creative ways to keep yourself top of mind in the eyes of your stakeholders. Don’t forget that relationships are best built face-to-face than over the phone or on a computer.

5. Learn how to better manage the yes

This is a twist on managing the no. Learn how to better manage the expectations of others. Make sure that you set the scope of work and discuss desirable outcomes. Make sure you always under-promise and over-deliver.

6. Prioritize

When you feel overwhelmed by multiple large projects, step back and remember what’s most important to accomplish today. Create a to-do list at the end of every day, so when you come into work the next morning you know what you need to do first.

7. Be more resourceful

If you can’t reach a journalist or blogger over the phone or by email, search for them on Twitter and send them a message. Find creative ways to pitch beyond the standard press release. Seek out the stories journalists are working on by using services like HARO and NewsBasis.

8. Take advantage of social media

More journalists are using social media to find story ideas and sources. Use sites like Muck Rack, MediaOnTwitter, and Journalist Tweets to find out who’s online and how to contact them.

9. Network, network, network.

Join professional PR associations like PRSA or IABC or Ragan. Become a member of your local Social Media Club. Participate in Twitter chats. You never know when a relationship may help you with your current job or finding a future one.

10. Use free PR tools

Read Jeremy Porter’s 13 PR resources you may have overlooked post. There are many tools out there that can help you deliver tremendous value to your brand or client – without spending a dime.

What tips would you add to this list?

This post originally appeared on Spin Sucks.