Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Developing My Personal Brand Led to a New Opportunity

It’s about 5:30pm on Friday, November 21st and I’ve just hung up the phone. I’m not just excited, I’m exhilarated! A new chapter in my life is about to begin. A new challenge as I just told Paul Roetzer (@PaulRoetzer) that I’m accepting his offer to come work at PR 20/20! It’s the result and reward of hard work to build my personal brand over the last year. My biggest goal for 2014 was to find a new job. While I couldn't make great positions just appear, I could put myself in the best position for when they did open up.



How did I do it? I built a strategy that put a sharper focus on a lot of the things that I was already doing. I applied the marketing that I’ve done forever and have a passion for…just towards myself. The most important thing in establishing your personal brand is figuring out what you want people to think and know about you. What thoughts come out when your name is brought up? The three areas I want people to know about me are marketing, my love for Cleveland and music (specifically rock music). So I adjusted the following areas to make sure that these came out loud and clear.
My Blog – Taking It Back (www.jeremybednarski.com)
The first and biggest area was my blog. I had started it already and was blogging every once in a while, but I needed to be more consistent. I made the commitment to post weekly. My topics are the main things I want to be known for…marketing, Cleveland and music. Also, I write a little about the cable industry (based on my former cable life), but have scaled back a bit to focus on the other areas and tried to have a Cleveland or marketing angle to those posts. I promote each of my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+…usually with a daily post on each for 3-4 days, varying the messages. I track the views to see which topics resonant to my readers and which don’t. I’m glad to say that I’ve posted every week so far this year. To be fair, a couple were re-posts of past articles when I was on vacation.  I’m also now publishing a good number of my posts on LinkedIn.

Social Media
With social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, I look for marketing articles to re-tweet and share that I find interesting and/or useful. I try to include a quick takeaway or short opinion to show that I understand what the article is saying or where trends are heading. I look for opportunities to comment on a post or add to a conversation (hopefully not in a creepy way). By doing this, I've been able to build relationships, with many leading to real life meetings (more on this in a minute). 

Another good way to build relationships on Twitter is by tweeting during webinars or participating in Twitter chats. It's a good way to establish your credibility in your field (marketing, in my case) and to find people to follow that you can learn from. Lately, however, I've been more selective of who I follow. By following too many people, my Twitter feed was being bogged down with more information than I could possibly sift through and fewer actual conversations. The point of social media is to interact, so I'm getting back to doing more of that. I wrote a blog post about this if you'd like to read more here.

With LinkedIn and Google+, I mostly share articles that I find interesting. I also comment on others' posts. I made a concerted effort to be more active in both. I still use Facebook mostly for personal use, but tailor a lot of my messages to coincide with my focuses. In all platforms, I try to make sure my personality shines through. I want to be authentic, and I want it to be fun too. 

Events
Events are an opportunity to build new relationships or develop those you’ve started through social media. There are all kinds of events to get involved with. I've been very active with the American Marketing Association and American Advertising Federation. I've volunteered with both groups in order to get to know some of the best marketers in the area and to get new experiences. Tweet ups are another way to build on relationships with people you meet on Twitter. 

Conferences are a huge opportunity to network. My biggest recommendation is to have a plan of attack for what you want to accomplish. I always want to come away with at least two things I can implement in my job almost immediately. I always come away feeling very inspired and with a lot of new ideas. However, once I get back to the day to day work life, it’s very easy to fall back into usual habits. The longer I wait to implement it, the less likely it is to happen. So, I look for things that can have a quick impact. 


The opportunity to meet and learn from so many great marketers is one of the best benefits of conferences. Figure out beforehand who you want to meet or talk to. If you already interact with them on social media, mention you’d love to have a minute to meet in person. Most of the speakers are very accessible as well. For example, this past year at Content Marketing World, I made a point to talk with Jason Miller. We’d chatted a bit on social media and we share a love of rock music (which he incorporates into his presentations). I’m a big fan of his marketing and his rock and roll photography (check it out at rocknrollcocktail.com). It was great just to get a few minutes to say hi and talk a little music.

I can’t stress enough how important the events are at a conference. These are when you have a chance to meet people while you have your guard down a little. For Content Marketing World, the Sunday before the start of the conference, Joe Pulizzi (@joepulizzi) and Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) were recording their podcast live and invited attendees. I met Ian Cleary (@IanCleary), who then introduced me to Andy Crestodina (@Crestodina). Two incredibly smart marketers. I didn’t go with the intention of meeting them, but am very glad that I did. In fact, speaking of having a plan for conferences, Crestodina had the most creative, inspired and fun tactics during the conference. Had I not met him, I may not have even paid attention to what he was doing. That would have been a huge miss for me!

Results
So with these tactics, how has my personal brand grown and what benefits have I seen? The biggest is that my network of friends and colleagues continues to grow. People appreciate help I give them (and I'm happy to give it). I've also had opportunities to guest Tweet for @InTheCle and guest blog for Cleveland Plus. 

The ultimate result is my new role with PR 20/20. I'll be able to better utilize my marketing skills and continue to learn and grow. In essence, I get to establish new goals and take my career to new heights. I can't wait to get started. I've had a blast getting to this point and I'm going to have even more fun now!

Well, that's my story. Each of us has a different path though. How have you grown your brand? What tactics have been successful for you? What recommendations would you give? Any questions for me? Reply in the comments below. Thanks everyone for reading and please share this with your friends. 

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