If I were to mention the word “apple” without first mentioning fruit, what would you think of? Most likely, consumer electronics like laptops, tablets and phones from the company with the same name. This just goes to show that when we hear a word, our minds immediately associate it with other objects or ideas based on past experiences.

When I ask people to think of someone related to Apple, the first name that pops into their mind is almost always Steve Jobs. And when I inquire about a person associated with Microsoft, Bill Gates’ name comes up most frequently, even though he hasn’t been involved in day-to-day operations for more than four years!

Once you’ve thought of a local small business that you frequently visit, who comes to mind when you hear its name? If you can’t remember anyone’s name, there’s still a decent chance that the face of an employee with whom you regularly interact or the owner will come to mind.

Finally, contemplate the inverse. How would you feel about those companies if they were never linked with those people?

The result of the above exercises demonstrates the importance of personal branding. A company’s brand and a powerfully branded individual support one another, creating a dynamic duo. In other words, when we have a strongly positive opinion of an individual who is associated with a company, our feelings toward that company improve as well. The opposite is also true: if we view someone within a company negatively, our assessment of the business suffers too.

Personal branding is key for anyone, especially if you wish to be involved with marketing and promoting a company. Companies seek out celebrities because they know the value of said association–both ways. Even if you’re not world-famous, though, developing a personal brand makes you irreplaceable to your current organization and gives you an advantage should you choose to leave for pastures new.

Developing a personal brand can assist you in achieving better results for your organization, regardless of your profession. An improved sense of self-worth and the ability to appear as an expert online are only two examples of how this is possible. Personal branding has become increasingly more accessible over the last ten years through social media platforms. Let’s explore how to leverage this change.

4 Steps to Become an Online Celebrity

Manage your online identity by registering for a name online.

If you can’t find a dot-com address, try getting a .me, or .net, or use your middle name or nickname. Join social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to protect your identity with them. I only use Twitter habitually since it works best for me; however, your results could be different.

Figure out what special skills or information you have.

Ask yourself if there are other people who would want to know what you know. Leverage your answers to create content that will answer their questions, help them solve a problem, and establish you as an expert in your field.

Identify your passion(s).

After you figure out what gets you excited, see if there is any connection to your areas of professional expertise. This “sweet spot” should be the central focus of your online presence. Your other skill sets might not stir up the same emotions, but they can still support your main passion area. Keeping updated with trends will be a lot easier when you’re actually interested in the topic.

Develop an online presence that looks professional.

Your passion should be the driving force behind your online identity. Developing this identity shouldn’t just be a haphazard process though–make sure to include specific areas of expertise so you can come across as credible, an expert in your field. And, of course, let your passions show through; letting people get to know the real you is always a plus! Just remember though: everything points back to having that “professional online presence.”

A self-made website can often have the reverse effect of what you want! Abraham Lincoln once said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Even if you’re an expert in online marketing or Web design, there may be areas that are best left to someone else.

Although it may seem like celebrities have teams of people working for them, you can create a professional online presence too. Rome wasn’t built in a day though — similar to how your online persona won’t be either. Set aside some time each week to focus on creating content and networking with others in your field. By being consistent and dedicated, you will develop an enviable online brand without spending loads of money.

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