Do you want to help your organization? Start with yourself. What do you stand for? What do you want to be remembered for? Whether you know it or not, you already have a brand, it is your reputation. Developing your own personal brand is about driving that narrative. Many non-profit leaders are hired based on how they are known publicly, both off and online. Your well-defined personal brand will help you focus on what matters most, raise more money for your organization, and do more good in the world.
1) Have a personal mission statement: Warren Buffet says, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Your mission statement doesn’t have to be specific or permanent, but it should serve as an internal guidance system to help you decide what to focus on and what to leave alone. An easy way to craft a personal mission statement is by using your 140 character Twitter bio. Mine is, “Social Philanthropist, Global Citizenship Advocate, Networker, Public Relations, Educator, Mindfulness Practitioner.” Everything that I focus on professionally relates to my mission statement (yes, it covers a ton!).
2) Be on social media: Aristotle says, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Now that you have your mission statement, you can use social media to promote, comment on, and influence, ideas and projects that mean something to you and your organization. Social media allows you to cultivate your brand on a daily basis. Yes, being online can be a time sink, but if you stick with what matters to you, social media will invigorate your brand and is well worth the investment. At a minimum, I recommend interacting with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You will be amazed by the connections you make and the opportunities that arise.
3) Monitor mentions of your name/organization and respond: Who is tagging you or your organization on social media? What are they saying? It could be great news, or maybe bad news, either way you need to see it, and likely respond. An alumna of your school is a finalist for a Nobel prize and cites you as a role model. Perhaps you can set up an interview and photo with her before the rest of the press? A rogue blogger writes that you and your non-profit are wasting funds. What happens if that article sits online for days before you address it? By monitoring and responding, you continue to hone and protect your personal brand.
4) Have an online bio: Perhaps you’ve done an interview or two, or published an essay that appears with your name on the third page of a Google search. Is there a central source online where someone can find everything positive about you? Your bio can be on Wikipedia, WordPress, About.me, or on your organization’s website. Wherever your biography appears, be sure to include links to all of your YouTube videos, publications, and press mentions. As a social philanthropist and PR person, I love promoting people. When a person has a comprehensive biography it makes it easy for me to share their work and attributes with interested parties.
5) Create your own content: How many times have you spoken in public? How many of those speeches were recorded and are now accessible online? One TED Talk or speaking excerpt can lead to all sorts of opportunities for you and your organization. Do you write a blog? You don’t have to wait for a newspaper to report on you and your school. A link is a link, whether it is from the New York Times or your Blogger site. When you create your own content, you have control. Just as you monitor information, you can shape it as well.
For more information on why you should blog (in case you don’t already), please read: