I’m often asked by companies and indiividuals on what they can do to stand out. Here’s what I’ve learned… but don’t just take my word for it, add your own tips in the comments.
There are so many brands now, in fact with the introduction of websites, and blogs in particular, many are developing personal brands, something not as easy to accomplish in past years. With this profileration of brands, it becomes so much more difficult for brand to stand out from the millions of others. Sure, you’re thinking the long tail solves this, and well yes, in a way. In reality there are leaders and followers being created in each sub-niche, so the rules of getting noticed still apply.
Have a goal
Before you do anything, think about what your objectives are. In particular for brands or personal brands, identify the keywords that you’d most want to be associated with. Try to think of keywords that people would search for, are long-term, and aren’t some made up name that no one would seek. Your goal may be association with these keywords which you’ll be gunning for. Or, if your goal is to network with others and to grow your reach, focus on how many quality relationships (perhaps defined by people that would help you and you’d help back) that you can grow. Or if your goal is to learn about a new topic and eventually master the subject material, focus on how you’ll learn by reading, then eventually writing on that topic.
Develop a unique brand
I really don’t think URLs are as important as they used to be, often folks will Google your name to find you, and the fact that we disperse to so many websites (Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed/What’s next) is an indicator of the distributed web ruling the destination website. There are millions of blogs/companies out there, and if you’re trying to get noticed, you’re going to have to compete to stand out. Having a default blog template to your website isn’t going to be enough, you’re automatically segmenting yourself with others. Develop a unique look and feel by designing it yourself or finding someone who can help. If that’s too difficult, at least create a custom masthead image that will brand your site.
If you want to stand out, you should add your picture to your blog, and develop a visual icon that demonstrates who you are. While not everyone shows their picture (Louis Gray comes to mind) he did develop an icon “LG” that represents his personal brand. Use this icon on all your other social media properties in a consistent manner. Also, register the same handle on other social media sites, and cross link them from your blog. Take for example Jive Software, who in a crowded space (80-100 vendors) has encouraged Sam Lawrence to develop a unique voice that he inserts –and leads– in the conversation about enterprise social software.
Attend local events
One thing I found very useful when I was trying to get noticed was attending many events. I attended 2-3 tech events every week, which was easy to do in Silicon Valley. By doing this, I was able to meet folks who were passionate about the space, were speaking at other events, and developed a network to interact with online during the day, and one I’m very active with now.
You’ll soon start to notice a gap in the events you’re going to: a particular topic isn’t being covered, or a particular style of a topic isn’t being approached (unconference, roundtable, lecture, networking) and you can start to quickly develop your own events. I’ve seen so many do this, in particular blogger dinners, or meshwalks or barcamps.
Given the large number of people talking about the same thing you are online, you’re going to need to differentiate. Sure, standard business strategy but it’s amazing how few fail to do so. Many simply quote what others say, adding very little value, instead, you need to consistently be intersting. Here’s a few approaches: conduct analysis, respectively disagree with the mainstream, break news, compare and contrast services, develop lists or indexes of companies or topics. When I met Scoble in 2005, I asked them how I can be a better blogger (get links from A-listers) he told me to ‘be intersting’, I took that too heart.
Archive your achievements
As you develop your repitorie of speaking at events, leading events, or being quoted in articles or top blogs, start to create an archive that links to all these achievements. You don’t need to make it totally visible, but you’ll want to be able to share this with decision makers (next job, speaker selector, media, recruiters) to indicate on one page how you stand out.
I’ve so many other tips on how to get noticed, but I’m going to leave this an open discussion in the comments, leave examples and tips for others on how to best get noticed.