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How to Sculpt Your Online Brand

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. There has been no time in history where it has been easier or more efficient to sculpt your personal brand to highlight your passion, spotlight your skills and expose, to the world, your accomplishments. The proliferation of platforms has made it possible to deftly create or surface a specific identity that conveys who you are, your particular interests and your ultimate objective in life.

executive_brandingLet’s take stock of the possibilities. Let’s say for example that you have a penchant for being a finance professional focused on vineyards and wineries. How and where do you convey that fact so your name will be associated with vineyard finance when a hiring manager, HR representative or executive recruiter goes casting about online for a numbers professional with a penchant for grapes? Consider the following:

Resume: Start with your resume and craft it with an emphasis on what makes your background, experience and abilities qualified for a role as an accounting and finance guru for a winery. Tailor each job with the type of experience and ability relevant to doing accounting, purchasing, M&A and other finance disciplines for wine growers or vineyards. Begin your resume with a summary statement that forms your 30 second elevator speech.

Blog: Try your hand at blogging about some aspect of financial accounting for a vineyard or perhaps steps in acquiring vineyard land. The key here is to be prepared to have a regular schedule of blog posts. The blog can focus on your experience, case studies, creative ideas, people who are authorities or thought leaders, what others are doing or techniques, just to name a few tactics. Also, invite your colleagues and others in the field to guest post. Be sure to pick a title for your blog that is intuitive, clever and interesting. Make sure you then amortize the blog over other social infrastructure platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Pinterest, etc. Among some popular blogging platforms are Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger, to name a few.

LinkedIn: Construct your LinkedIn profile to reflect the character and language of your resume. Pay particular attention to your “Professional Headline” and “Summary Statement” ensuring that they are descriptive and relevant to finance pros. For example, the headline might read as follows: “Vineyard CFO” or “Financial Sommelier.”  Then your summary statement could read something like: “Numbers Pro with a passion for accounting, funding and finding rich land for profitably growing grapes. Accounting chops to insure balanced statements, flowing cash and shrinking debt.”

In addition to your profile, look for LinkedIn Groups that focus on “viticulture,” “vineyard management” or “growing grapes.”  Do a simple search to ID the groups and then depending if they are open or private, apply for membership. With that accomplished, engage with the groups, add original thought and content and add value where and when appropriate. Also, if there is an absence of groups related to your focus, create a Group or two that that puts a stake in the ground about “Vineyard Finance and Accounting.”  Have a mission and objective that will be attractive to others in the field. Once completed invite others to join and collaborate.

Facebook: First, have your Facebook profile mirror your LinkedIn profile, emphasizing your skill set and accomplishments in doing finance and accounting for wineries, retail outlets, vineyards, or whatever is your preferred calling. Next when and as you post your updates, focus them on content, photos, opinions on topics related to the wine business and finance. That's not to say you should not post other content. The key is over time you want to build up a legacy of content that portrays your interests, passions and experience in Vineyard finance. One more point. Post content that is thoughtful, instructive and interesting.

Pinterest: The Pinterest platform is a terrific vehicle for posting content that is focused and instructive. You have a couple of alternatives. Create a board focused on "finance," where you pin interesting content about aspects of vineyard management. It could be your own content, links to blogs about viticulture or interesting vineyard images. The other alternative is to find boards that concentrate on wine and constantly post topics and pins that again are interesting, unusual and educational.

Twitter: If you already have a Twitter handle, no issue, get a second one. Create a handle that reflects how you want to brand yourself, for example “@FinanceSommelier.”  Intuitively it establishes your role as a finance pro involved in the wine industry.

Next, in 140 characters or less, tweet ideas, advice, news, counsel, requests, other sites (like your blog posts) or any piece of information or knowledge that conveys something about “wine and vineyard finance.”  Do this consistently. In addition, start following other wine divas and people whose livelihood depends on the grape. Also follow other bloggers and reporters who write about wine. In due time, people will start following you based on your own content and posts. Also, register yourself on platforms like Twellow to become more visible to the Twitterverse.

AboutMe: The “About.Me” platform enables you to create a universally accessible splash page that encompasses the different facets of your life. It provides a single page where you can display graphics and a summary of your career or a biography and icons that link, in real time, to your social media profiles. Icons are available for most of the major platforms. Insure that your biographic information includes aspects of your experience and accomplishments in “vineyard accounting and finance.”  Also, consider using a graphic design or photo that features you in a setting related to the field of “wine.”

Quora: A crowd-sourced information site, Quora.com is one of the pre-eminent platforms for asking questions and finding answers from people with first-hand experience. It is an ideal site to populate with information you know and can share with others based on your experience and knowledge. Make liberal use of your focus to both ask and answer.

Bluesteps: Join Bluesteps and model your profile on either LinkedIn or your resume. Pay particular attention to both your accomplishments and skills integrated with your passion. Connect your LinkedIn account to your profile to automatically keep your BlueSteps profile up-to-date. Include links to your above accounts in the portfolio section as well as your full executive bio. The more complete and up-to-date your profile, the more likely you will appear at the top of executive search professionals’ search results.

Other Platforms. What other platforms do you use to promote your passions and career preferences? Employ the same methodology. Communicate the relevant skills and abilities most appropriate to the industries that hold your greatest career interests.

Time will tell. Bear in mind results won’t be immediate. It will take some time of constant and intense focus on your career and passion and communicating it through various virtual platforms. But with time, your brand will shine through and your Google rank will improve.

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About the author

BlueSteps Member Executive Guest Writer

Gerard F. Corbett is Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Redphlag LLC, a strategic public relations, marketing management and executive coaching firm.  He also is an instructor on branding at UC Berkeley, Extension, and is Past Chair & Chief Executive Officer of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA,) the world’s largest member organization of public relations practitioners. He is accredited in public relations (APR) and a member of the PRSA College of Fellows.

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