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Everybody needs to get their name out there on the social web. For entrepreneurs, however, it’s an even more critical aspect of the job. A social presence gives you the credibility to attract clients, partners and investors by making yourself available and demonstrating your personality and experience.
Building your online brand in a meaningful way is no easy task, and there are many tools available to get you on the right path. Below, we’ve picked 10 tested methods and highlighted some of the best web tools to help your brand gain momentum in a crowded online marketplace.
1. Media Requests
Being quoted in news articles is an excellent way to demonstrate your authority. It’s a free way to promote yourself and demonstrate thought leadership. There are a few excellent tools out there that connect reporters with people looking to get quoted.
- HARO is an email digest that connects reporters and sources.
- NewsBasis allows you to pitch stories to journalists.
- FlackList is a Rolodex to help the media meet and maintain relationships with experts.
- Media Kitty is a network that connects journalists with sources.
2. Custom Short URL
Having your own custom URL shortener is a great way to get your name out there. If you often share links on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, it’s very useful. Eric Ries is a prime example. When he distributes a link, he uses his own shortened URL: ericri.es.
Here’s an informative tutorial on how to set up your own shortened URL.
Sharing your knowledge on Q&A sites is a superb way to build credibility around your name. There are quite a few sites to choose from, so start with the one that has the most buzz around it at the moment: Quora. Robert Scoble has demonstrated the value the site can provide. Having answered more than 500 questions, he’s built a following of more than 22,000 people.
Be present and active on social networks. It’s crucial to set up your profiles and use the sites to your professional advantage.
Below are some of the top site to establish your presence:
- About.me: Personal landing page
- Facebook Page: A valuable way to stay connected with your fans
- LinkedIn: A business network with full resumes
- Google Profiles: An important tool for ranking high in search results
- Twitter: A means to engage and spread your influence through conversation
- Disqus: Share your knowledge through comments
Participating in meetups is another excellent way to network and build clout. There a few good tools for finding interesting events in your area. Here are two to get started with:
- Meetup: Join groups of people that interest you then meet in person.
- Plancast: You can see which events your friends are attending.
6. Social Email Signatures
Turn your email signature into a social and informative experience. When exchanging emails, everyone in your network will easily be able to find out more about you.
Wisestamp is a popular signature plugin that allows you to create sleek signatures with social icons, RSS feeds and more.
7. Guest Posting
Search for blogs in your area of expertise and pitch them specific ideas for posts. Each blog has its own style and focus, so make sure to tailor your pitches to each outlet. Be ready to share writing samples if asked, and be open to working with editors to revise your post as necessary. Alltop and Technorati are good places to start looking for tops blogs within your area of expertise.
8. Virtual Business Cards
Create a virtual business card so that it’s easy for people to find you and share your information with others. There are many ways to go about this:
- MiniCard: Buy a domain name and set up a business card-like site.
- QR Code: Have people scan your unique QR code instead of handing out text-filled cards.
- Twtbizcard: This site lets you transform your Twitter profile into a business card.
- Bump: This is an app that allows you to bump phones together to connect with people.
Sending out a monthly newsletter will allow you to build up a vast network. If you share valuable content with subscribers, they will then share it with their friends — bringing you a new subscribers and fans. If you do a good job, your list will continue to grow.
Some of the more popular newsletter services include:
- Mailchimp: A newsletter platform that is free up to 2,000 subscribers
- Tiny Letter: A simple platform for creating and distributing a newsletter
- Aweber: Users rave about this paid service, which comes with many options for building out your newsletter
As an example, Kevin Rose, co-founder of Digg, shares interviews, products and knowledge through his Tiny Letter newsletter, Foundation. At $3.99 per month, it’s a bargain for readers who value his content.
10. Eat with Influencers
Let’s Lunch is a one-on-one lunch meeting generator that matches people based on reputation, influence, requests and practicality. Right now, it’s only available to people in NYC, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. GrubWithUs allows you to connect with others at group meals that you either find or set up yourself.
What tools have you used to build your online brand? Let us know in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, loop_oh
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