We discussed personal branding last night and its importance as the walls between customer and business become less distinct. We reviewed the birth of the concept and the evolution from self-improvement to self-packaging. It’s important to select a professional direction and not necessarily a final destination. Remain flexible in your career goals. When building your personal brand it is best to tie yourself to a vertical (the more niche focused the better) so that you can position yourself as a SME in that industry. Make sure you select the industry wisely and prepare to rebrand yourself at least 5 times during your career. Your brand needs to be memorable, communicable (preferably like a virus) and shared over and over. Something compelling.

We also touched on the concept of employee brand and how this concept will expand as businesses learn to utilize social media. I also recommended they read Dan Schawsbel’s book: Me 2.0 because I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet!

Then we reviewed what people were NOT willing to do to build their personal brand throughout the online relationship model I developed (findable, recommendable, transparent and collaborative). Are you willing to create a crappy GoDaddy commercial to be found? Are you willing to create fake recommendations to build trust in you? These are much easier to figure out then what you are willing to do.

We then discussed the new protocol for branding yourself online. (Remember; your network is your brand.) The progression of where you should be/how you build your network is as follows:

  1. LinkedIn – Network to people you know and determine who you want to get introduced to based on your career direction.
  2. Twitter – listen, follow, retweet, etc. (Only use Twitter if it’s in your nature!)
  3. Email – Email that person directly utilizing information you have about them (keep it professional)
  4. Phone call – Have a casual call about how you may be able to work together
  5. In person – Do this over coffee (not possible at times given geography)
  6. Professional relationship – Work on a project together
  7. Facebook – Invite them into your life, family, kids etc

Not everyone you do business with should get to the Facebook phase and again, you need to figure out what you’re NOT willing to do.

We then did a self-assessment to see where everyone’s brands were at through Google search (images, etc), LinkedIn search, Twitter, Facebook, flickr and YouTube. We clarified that there were no criminals in class and also found some others that they share names with. One student found someone on Twitter with the same name that felt cats should be steam powered. (You just can’t make that stuff up.)  We also determined that location was a good way to differentiate yourself from others with like names. (I have A LOT of experience with this.)

We finished up by reviewing some of LinkedIn’s functionality such as groups, organizer (first video below), company sites, account types (premium account highlights below; 2nd video),  answers, network stats and Guy Kawasaki’s 11 (even though it says 10) ways of using LinkedIn.

After reviewing LinkedIn’s offerings, I have to believe that SalesForce will acquire them within the next couple of years.

Next class, we’re going to be reviewing mobile’s role in social media. Much coolness to be had!