10 Actions to Update Your Personal Brand for 2013

New Year's Resolutions, list of itemsSo how many of you have started thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions for 2013? Isn’t it about time you got a move on this?  Aren’t you ready to proudly broadcast to your family and friends that you are gong to lose weight, work out more, read more, or just be a “better” person? But let me ask you the all important question:

Have you really ever stuck to these resolutions? Come on be honest!

Resolutions are basically a silly cultural ritual we go through each year. As if this year is really going to be any different and you will actually lose that 10 pounds, or workout 4 days a week, or read a new book every month. Give it up.

Don’t Mistake the ‘Talking’ for the ‘Doing’

This reminds me of a great TED Talk by Derek Sivers where he says we need to “shut up and keep our goals to ourselves.” 

As he says, by simply telling others about our goals we feel great and that great feeling makes it far less likely that we will actually do it! When you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, the mind is basically tricked into feeling it is already done. By feeling this satisfaction we are simply less motivated to do the actual work to achieve the goal.

10 Real Actions – Not Empty Resolutions!

Rather than going through the ritualistic motions of making empty resolutions, how about taking 10 immediate actions to update your personal brand for 2013?  (Just don’t tell anyone you are going to do them. Get out and DO them and let the doing speak for itself!)

1. Refresh Your Headshot

Start off with the New Year with a new ‘look’. Keep it professional and stay ‘on-brand’, but change it up a bit. For example, if your headshot in 2012 was more formal with a tie and jacket, think about being a bit more casual for 2013. Simply changing the color of your shirt, your hair style, even the glasses you wear helps to refresh your brand. Just make sure to upload this new headshot to Gravatar and change out your old photo across all your touch points across the web.

2. Makeover Your LinkedIn Profile

In addition to a headshot makeover, revamp your LinkedIn profile. Recently LinkedIn has completely updated the look and feel of your profile. Changes include

  • a larger profile photo
  • a more prominent headline
  • profile sections that stand out and are easier to read
  • new sections to further promote yourself (volunteer experience, publications, project, patents, test scores)
  • rich media capability to add photos, videos, presentations directly into your summary and experience sections enhancing your visual story
  • being endorsed for your individual skills
  • the ability to now directly search for specific contacts within your 1st level connections

An awesome resource for updating your LinkedIn profile for 2013 is Donna Serdula’s blog on LinkedIn-Makeover.com.  Donna recently posted a great article on how to take advantage of LinkedIn’s new design with tips you can immediately apply to your profile.

3. Assess Your Online Identity

Do you know how the world sees you? Are you digitally distant or digitally disguised? Your first page of search results is what people are using to make critical and even life-changing decisions about you. Assess your current online identity and the strategize how to improve, adjust, and even clean-up for the New Year. The best resource for this is a free tool called the ‘Online ID Calculator’ from Reach Personal Branding. Go to this tool and learn where your are on the ‘digital scale’.

4. ‘Ego-Surf’ and Manage Your Online Reputation

Once you know your digital identity, be pro-active throughout the year and manage your online reputation. Take the necessary steps to manage the 5 key areas of your brand online:

  • Volume: How much information exists online about you?
  • Relevance: How consistent is the information with who you are?
  • Diversity: How diverse is the content and does it include text, video, images, photos, etc.?
  • Purity: How much is purely about you and not someone with the same or similar name?
  • Validation: What are other people saying about you in testimonials, endorsements, recommendations, etc.?

Three great tools (and yes they are FREE)  to manage your reputation are BrandYourself.com, Vizibility.com, and Profiled.com. Also, set up Google Alerts for your name so that anytime your name does show up on Google, you will get an email informing you of this new search result. The key here is to take ownership in managing your online presence throughout the year. Make it a regular habit to even ‘ego surf’ – googling your own name – to see how the world sees you!

5. Set up Your Google Authorship

This is one of the simplest and most overlooked ways to build your visibility and credibility. If you are an active contributor of content / thought leadership online, are you verifying your “authorship” to these posts that show up on Google search? Essentially what this does is link your content that shows up in Google search to your Google+ Profile. This means that your profile photo appears alongside search results attributed to you as well as a link to more content from you as the author.

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Some people have no interest in using Google+ and that is fine. Simply set up a Google+ profile and link it to the content you create and enjoy a higher click-through rate for your content. To learn how to set up Google authorship click here.

6. Build “Me to the Power of We”

Your personal branding success is ultimately determined by both your ability to communicate your unique promise of value AND your communities capability to magnify your brand. Your brand grows exponentially by others touting your value.  Make it a goal to build the ‘we’ that will support your brand. Join LinkedIn groups related to your expertise, search for opportunities to be a guest blogger, comment on blogs in your niche, sponsor a ‘blogathon‘ on your own blog, start an interview series and introduce thought leaders to your community. The opportunities are endless to build a community that will in turn grow your brand.

7. Focus on Your Real Clout, not Klout!

Your online community and tribe is very important but do not forget about the “real world”. We often get lost in the virtual world of socializing and connecting. Make it a habit to schedule at least 1 in-person networking event per month in 2013. Ideally once a week is best. Find “meetup” groups in your area to connect with like-minded folks. This is the true essence of your clout, not the ridiculous Klout score that people seem to think measure your value and engagement.

8. Create Your Compelling Bio (video and text)

One of my favorite quotes is from Michael Margolis of Getstoried.com. Michael says “character trumps credentials” and he is absolutely right.

Credentials are your ‘outer-self’ and while they are important to get your foot in the door, your character communicates your ‘inner-self’. This is what people are attracted to. This is what determines if people will decided to hire you, do business with you, or simply connect with you.

Create a bio in both video and text that demonstrates your character. Video continues to be a game changer so find ways to communicate your character on video by using such platforms as videoBIO or ViewYou. Upload this video to your LinkedIn profile!

9. Set up Your Personal ‘Portals’

I have always been a huge fan of About.me and Flavors.me where you can set up your own 1-page portal on the web. They are totally FREE so if you have not set one up this year then do it now for 2013. A very cool new tool (also FREE) that let’s viewers ‘interact’ with your portal is Vizify. It is a new kind of personal website based on the best of your social media content. What I love about Vizify is that it collects and transforms all the fragmented data across your social media platforms into a unified, visual profile. TechCrunch has called it the “slick new way to present your personal brand.”

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10. Build Your ‘Communication Wheel’

Once you have reflected on the successes and challenges of the past year, create your plan for 2013 to clearly, consistently, and constantly put our brand into motion.  Visualize your plan as the wheels on a bicycle. Without wheels you cannot move! Your brand communication plan allows you to move forward and continue your ride to success.

The center of a wheel, the hub, keeps the spokes together. Likewise the center of your plan, the ‘content theme,’ is the core message you want to communicate to your target audience. Your communication vehicles, or spokes, radiate out of your content theme and provide the support to keep your plan together. These may include presenting at conferences, joining professional organizations, using social media, creating a blog, writing an article or book for publication, etc.

Select a mix of vehicles that you will enjoy doing and will actually reach your target audience. If you dread public speaking then you may want to avoid this. Remember, a broken spoke makes a wheel wobble and lose its strength. Select vehicles that you are strong at, or at least ones you are happy to make stronger. Schedule these ‘spokes’ into your 2013 calendar and commit to executing and repeating them. By keeping your wheel straight you remain visible and by fixing a broken spoke you remain credible. Click here to learn more about creating your communication wheel.

If you have any other tips to help build your personal brand for 2013, please share below. I would love to hear what you have to say!  




About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+