Brand: you. Have you created a personal brand yet, putting all that social networking to good use? When it's time to promote ourselves, we may feel a little shy. Any woman who wants to advance in her job, change careers, or find a job, or is a crafter, writer, baker, or an artisan with products to sell should develop a personal brand. Women who run a home-based business or a small business (from personal training to math tutoring) need to take branding seriously.
Think of your online brand as a digital representation of your reputation. It can be difficult for women who are making money part-time doing what they love to realize, yes, I am a brand. You and everything you post publicly online is your brand. Ensure that your online reputation and social networking efforts reflect the authentic (and professional) you.
Gain control of your personal brand - The best and most effective first step in personal branding is creating your own website. You can host it for free and even use a free template, but in order to be taken seriously you need to purchase your own domain name. Take a small amount of money you've earned from your career or small business and buy a domain. It's not expensive and it will increase your cache as a personal brand.
Blog - You could blog on your website, or have an external blog feed into your website. Choose a community aligned with your genuine interests where you can blog. Keep back up copies of your blog posts because you could spend a lot of time creating an awesome blog only to see the company go out of business, like the innovative website blogging site Vox.
Create and maintain social networking profiles - You should have Twitter and Facebook, but expect that someday these sites may be obsolete (anyone remember MySpace?). It's important to use the same logos, profile photos and bios, and even colors to create a cohesive brand across various social networks. There are 50 top social sites you could use.
Some effective social networking sites include:
Yfrog or Twitpic to publicly share photos
Pinterest or Craftgawker
YouTube, SlideShare, or Flickr
Sharing is a balancing act - Don't set yourself looking up to look like a clown or complain about how rowdy the circus monkeys are. Practice walking that tightrope between private and personal, informative and awkward, and between self-promotion and self-centeredness.
There's no whining in branding - When building a personal brand using social networking, lose the negativity. Keep it informative but light. Don't complain about spouses, bosses, in-laws and especially not about clients. There are some exceptions, of course. If you provide business consulting you can address negative situations in a workplace with a positive spin. The same goes for anyone involved with the parenting community. It's okay to blog about your kids and the struggles of parenting, when you are genuine, make a connection, and provide either a solution, or at least some humor.
Connect to others with caution - It's not about how many connections, links, or friends you have, it's about the quality of your connections. Be wary of accepting all invitations on professional networking sites like LinkedIn unless you want to be connected to the other person. Ask yourself if the connection is mutually beneficial and it will not conflict with the personal brand that you're working hard to build.