“Forget about trying to compete with someone else. Create your own pathway.” – Herbie Hancock
When it comes to building your online presence, it’s always best to create your own path. Others may tell you what works, how you should portray yourself online or where you should be focusing your time. But ultimately, only YOU know what is right for you and your brand.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a network of advisers at your fingertips, but it’s also important to know what you are trying to achieve online and to make decision with those specific goals in mind.
Now, once you’ve settled on the right strategy for your brand, there are some tried and true ways to get started building your online presence. Here are just a few…
1. Blogging. A blog is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert in your respective field. Essentially, you’re creating a platform where you can talk about the things that you’re passionate about, which also interest and benefit your audience. Through a blog you can share your knowledge, demonstrate your authority on a specific topic and build trust with your readers. Every business and personal brand should have a blog. If you don’t have one, you’re definitely at a loss in the online battle to build a stand out brand.
2. Social Media. Social media is where people are. There’s no way around it. There are over 500 million people on Facebook alone, so the stats can’t be ignored any longer. And the reality is, people want to connect with brands through social media and they want brands that engage them. They’re already online and interested in building relationships with relevant brands. It’s up to you to be one of those brands that connects and grabs their attention…and social media is a really great place to make an impact.
3. Groups and Communities. I’m a big advocate for Facebook groups, or even Google+ communities and forums. There’s a reason why social networking platforms are popular. Besides creating a space where people can connect, they provide countless opportunities to engage and influence your audience or peers. In the same way that you can build a “reputation” with your blog, you can also establish yourself through online communities. Do you want people to see you as being helpful, knowledgeable and professional? Communities can help you do this. They can help you to develop deeper connections with your audience and ultimately lead to limitless opportunities, collaborations and sales.
4. Networking and Events. Networking at conferences and other events is another great way to stand out. Meeting someone in person gives you the unique opportunity to make an impact and become truly memorable. You can strike up a conversation and demonstrate to others just how passionate you are about what you do. You can also add that personal touch that may not be possible through online interactions. It’s another way to build trust, to gain credibility and to really solidify your reputation. It also affords you some valuable opportunities to form partnerships and collaborate with others in your niche who can help you to elevate your message even further.
5. Search Marketing. Have you ever heard of search engine optimization (SEO)? By using SEO, link building and other strategies, you can gain traffic and visibility that will help the right people to find you precisely when they need to. Think about the number of total websites online. Than the number of websites in your niche. Now, the number of people who offer the exact same services that you offer. How are they being found through search engines? What sources are bringing traffic back to their websites or helping them to gain more visibility? By guest writing for a few high ranking websites, like Huffington Post, for example, you can bring far more potential clients and readers to your website. This increases your chances of converting your audience by 1) establishing your credibility through Google rankings and high caliber guest writing appearances, and 2) getting more traffic to your website overall, so you have more chances to convert.
You may find that some of these paths work better for you than others. Or maybe you want to work all of them (and you certainly should), but you don’t have to. You can easily start where you feel the most comfortable and work your way outward.
Don’t worry about taking everything on at once, just focus on finding your community and communicating your passion and experience to them in your own unique way.