Assets like your website and blog act as the hub of your personal branding efforts. They are the places of truth where people can go to get information about you straight from the source. But it’s difficult to build an audience if you only use your efforts on those two channels.
To build your brand and move toward your professional goals you need to go where your target audience is and you have to get their attention. Outreach is the act of providing value to those that have established audiences filled with the people you want to reach. You provide value and in exchange they give you the chance to sell yourself to the audience.
In this chapter we’ll show you how to use outreach to grow your audience while increasing opportunities that can lead to professional advancement as you work toward your personal branding goals.
How To Build Relationships That Lead To Opportunities
We asked Lewis Howes the following question:
If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
His response included an important point about building relationships:
Making Friends: Become friends with influencers… don’t just network with them. Take the time to develop a bond that is stronger than a business deal. When you do this, your friends will “take a bullet” for you… and the business deal or promoting you is a no-brainer as well.
Many opportunities arise out of first connections. You can sit back waiting for those connections to happen by chance such as waiting for ads to appear for new jobs or for the right lead to magically come in through your website or you can go out and make connections happen for you.
As you know, the second option is better. Life waits for nobody so if you want to kick your career into overdrive you’re going to have to go out and make connections because every connection could be the one that leads to your next opportunity.
Here are the steps and methods to making connections and building professional relationships.
Step One Find People Willing To Connect At Local Events
Local events in your city or community are still some of the best places to meet people and build connections and relationships that lead to opportunities. A lot of people focus on the power of social media and social media certainly is important (we’re talking about it in the next step), but face-to-face interaction is still an essential way to foster opportunity in your professional life.
Here is a little trick to use to find local events where you can find people willing to connect.
Go to Google.
Type in the following phrase, but don’t hit “Enter” just yet:[your city] business
That’s it. Obviously add your city to make it something like “Seattle Business” or “Bangkok Business”. Let Google’s suggested searches reveal potential connecting events.
Sometimes, just using the word “business” won’t be enough. You might have to add the word “event” to the end or something similar to get the proper suggestions. You could also substitute the word “professional” for business and add “event” or something close to get even more results.
For example, typing in Seattle Business Events will yield the following suggestions:
- Seattle Business Events
- Seattle Business Events This Week
- Seattle Business Networking Events
- Seattle Business Events Calendar
- And more
Next, hit “enter” on a few of the suggested searches that look the most relevant to your situation. You should discover a number of opportunities where people like you are going to connect with others.
There are a variety of different events. Some will be casual gatherings like cocktails with professionals where you can mingle with professionals from the area, free to discuss anything you like. Other events will be more scheduled with speakers and question and answer sessions.
Find the events that best fit your professional niche. Go to a variety of events; ones that are more casual and ones with speakers and schedules. Find opportunities to connect with people and learn what others are doing in their professional lives.
Your goal is to make connections and see if there is opportunity to build a relationship. You’re looking for people that share similar aspirations as you and that are involved in similar fields. For example, an accountant will look for others that have an interest in accounting and business. He or she would connect with those people, get to know them and through that relationship job opportunities may arise whether it’s a full-time position, a freelance position or even an opportunity to start a new firm.
Step Two Discover People Willing To Engage On Social Media
Now we can get into social media. There is a lot of opportunity to make connections on social media that can lead to professional opportunities. You can connect with people that could make potential employers, employees, business partners, clients and more.
However, for professional relationships, not all social media networks are created equal.
Twitter is a good network for connecting with people. Many are willing to respond to their mentions especially if you engage with intriguing conversation. There’s an easy way to get people to respond to your tweets on Twitter.
First, find someone that is well known in your industry. You probably already follow people like this on Twitter. Look at their timeline to see the types of tweets that they have responded to and interacted with in the past. These are clues to the type of updates that interest them.
Next, write the same type of updates that have gotten engagement from your target in the past.
For example, you notice that your target has commented multiple times on an industry news event. They’ve shared multiple articles. They’ve replied to tweets with their opinion on the topic. To start your engagement, simply comment on the topic with a similar viewpoint to the one your target has shared. It’s obviously better if you share the same opinion because this makes the potential relationship a genuine one so look for something that you care about. Make your comment. The person will likely respond and a relationship can grow from there.
Relationships happen in real life following this method all the time. It starts with one common interest or shared experience and grows from there. With Twitter, you have a huge platform full of potential relationships and you can target connections based on your interests. Identify people in your industry, follow them and comment on the things they care about. It’s that simple.
Repeat the same efforts on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.
Step Three How To Connect With People In Groups And On Forums
Before LinkedIn, Facebook and even MySpace there was a very social culture online. People would congregate in forums and chat rooms with others that shared similar interests. These groups and forums are still some of the biggest communities online and you can use them to your advantage.
Chances are there are a number of these online communities for your professional niche. Go to Google and search for things like [your niche] forum or replace “forum” with words like “community” or put the word “online” in front of the search to find relevant communities.
For example, search for “online accounting discussion forum” and you’ll get a result for AccountingForums.com. This forum is full of discussion among accountants.
To get started in the discussion, find the conversations where you’re comfortable and add your thoughts and opinions. Aim to help those with questions where you feel comfortable providing advice. If you’re not comfortable answering questions you can always ask your own questions. Even if you feel your questions are rudimentary you’ll usually find many people willing to offer advice.
From these discussions you can build relationships that can turn into opportunities.
How To Get Exposure By Guest Blogging
Google’s head of the spam team Matt Cutts made a declaration that guest posting had become spammy. And if you’re up on the SEO industry you know that spammy guest posting has been on the rise.
However, Google seems to simply be acknowledging the fact that many have abused guest linking for the sole purpose of gaining links. As a way to scale efforts, people would write guest posts with little value and post them on whatever site that would accept the articles.
Thankfully, Google appears to have targeted this type of guest posting leaving opportunity for real authorities to publish high quality guest posts for the purpose of SEO and branding.
Guest blogging still works. In fact, we asked Jon Morrow of GuestBlogging.com the following question:
If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
His response included a note about guest blogging:
If you wiped my mind, and I had to start over TOTALLY from scratch, I would probably start with guest blogging. In my opinion, it’s the best way to improve your writing skills while simultaneously building a core audience.
As you build your personal brand you can use guest posting to gain exposure to audiences and to build the profile of yourself as a writer and the profile of your website and blog. Here is how you can accomplish this with a guest posting strategy.
Step One How To Find Websites That Accept High Quality Guest Posts
There are a number of websites that still accept guest posts, but the ones with strong audiences, the kind of audiences you want to reach, are becoming more picky about the people they let guest post. The best sites only want the best content so go into this effort with the idea that you’ll have to write your best stuff ever for these top-notch websites.
Use social media, search engines and search tools like Topsy to identify the top websites in your niche. Nearly every industry has industry journals, blogs and websites dedicated specifically to topics for that industry. These are the best places to publish guest posts and many will have opportunities for outside writers.
Create a list of potential websites where you can guest post. Next, see if they have a procedure for submitting ideas for articles for complete articles. Some of the sites will have pages titled “Write For Us” or “Contribute”.
If you don’t see pages like this, don’t worry. There are still ways to publish on these sites. The clue will be the number of different authors you see on site. Usually the site will have regular writers, but often they’ll accept outside writers and usually those with experience in the industry have a good shot at getting a guest post accepted.
If you don’t see a “Write For Us” page look for a “Contact” page. This page will usually have a form or a series of email addresses including one for the editor or associate editor.
If you still can’t find this information, use a search engine or LinkedIn to find people associated with the publication. You could even click on the authors’ names on the articles on the site to see if they have author pages. These pages will often have links to Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
Step Two How To Write Emails That Get Responses
If the sites have official procedures for guest posting then follow the rules and submit your best content. Even if your content is turned down, respond with by asking what would have made the article worth accepting. Ask for specific things. Then go back and improve your article or write a new article following every item addressed in the response. When you follow specific instructions laid out you’re more likely to be accepted so always ask for specific feedback.
If the sites have contact forms and email addresses you’ll have to write emails to work your way toward a guest posting opportunity. The key to these emails is building a relationship with the person you’re emailing as you work your way toward a guest posting opportunity.
To start your email, use the word “because” early. This gives the recipient a specific reason for the email and makes them more likely to keep reading and to answer your questions and to accept your submission.
For example, you would write:
I’m writing because I saw that [publication name] has accepted article contributions from outside writers including [article name].
What is the procedure for submitting an article for review and what criteria are used to accept submissions?
The word “because” is used early and the message asks for specific criteria for the submission. This way you know exactly what you have to do in order to get an article accepted.
Even if you hear that the publication is not accepting articles, continue your efforts. If the person says that articles are no longer accepted, respond with something such as, “What would make an article appealing for publication on your site?” and similar questions to see if you can get a response with specific information.
The responses you get can lead to openings for your article to be accepted as long as you write the type of article the person describes in their correspondence.
Step Three How To Write High Quality Guest Posts
Only the best articles are accepted on the best industry websites. The easiest way to figure out what is required on the sites you identify is to review the top articles on the site.
If a particular type of post has been popular for the site in the past you know the site’s owners are looking for more content like that. Identify the top content and create an article that is just as good or even better.
If you still can’t find the popular articles, go back to the people that you’ve contacted at the site and ask them for a short list of the best articles on their site. They might just send you the top five articles and from that you can extrapolate an idea for an article that can be just as good.
For example, an account finds that three popular articles on an industry website all relate to entrepreneurs and new business taxes. The accountant would create a title idea that would involve common tax mistakes made by new businesses and first-time entrepreneurs. It’s a great topic and one that the site would likely accept.
However, make your article all encompassing and in-depth. Cover every angle and provide actionable steps for readers. The best articles establish a benefit for the reader in the title (ex: Save Money On Your Taxes By Avoiding These 5 First-Time Business Owner Mistakes). And provide actionable steps with each of the mistakes. See what’s been written before about the topic and improve on those ideas. Don’t just copy previous ideas. Find out what ideas have worked and make them better.
There are two tools that can help you find popular articles and topics so you can expand upon them and earn interest in your personal brand.
The first is SocialCrawlytics, which allows you to identify popular posts and topics. Enter in the URL of popular industry influencers, the people you aspire to be like and popular industry websites. This tool will show you the most popular content. From those results, identify the topics you can write about. Then use The Skyscraper Technique to create something even better. The site you submit the guest post to will be blown away and will love to publish and promote your content.
The second tool is Ahrefs, which allows you to explore URLs, posts and other content specifically the sites that link to the content. When you find a blog, look for popular posts and use Ahrefs to examine the backlinks coming to the post. Website owners love backlinks. By finding posts with the most backlinks you can create similar content ensuring that you’ll get backlinks to your article.
By finding where the backlinks come from you will also find potential people to reach out to and share your guest post with once it’s published.
How To Get Exposure Through Article Contributions & Interviews
Guest posting isn’t the only way to contribute content to outside audiences. You can contribute to articles with other authors and you can make yourself available for interviews.
We’ll talk more in the next chapter about getting press coverage and using HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which is a great tool for interviews. In this section we’ll cover a few different ways outside of HARO that you can use to contribute to articles and get exposure through interviews.
Step One Find Authors That Need Research Or Work Done For Their Articles
From the list of websites you’ve created for your industry, identify authors that have included research and other time consuming work in their articles. Reach out to these authors asking if they could use help with the research for future articles.
Often, the authors will have ideas for research for new articles, but they won’t have time to do the research themselves. They can provide you with direction and you can carry out the research as a way to help them. In return, they will often credit you with helping on the article and while it might not be a co-author status it can lead to co-written articles in the future and a positive relationship that could lead to other opportunities.
Step Two Find Bloggers That Publish Interviews & Reach Out
Most interviews start with the owner of a website reaching out to potential interviewees. When you’re just starting out on your personal branding effort you’re not going to have anyone reaching out to you for interviews. Don’t wait for your profile to build in the industry. Reach out to website owners seeing if they would be interested in interviewing you for their website.
When emailing website owners you have to make the message about them. Describe the benefits for their website and for their profile. You want to say that you’ll share the article with your entire network of followers and that you’ll link to the interview from your website.
You also have to make your story sound appealing. Start by asking what type of interview the person would be most interested. Ask what makes an appealing interview for their readers. Then tweak your story to fit the criteria and you’ll be more likely to be accepted for an interview on the site.
How To Get Exposure Through Partner Webinars
We asked Jon Morrow the question:
If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
His response included a big note on webinars:
I’m assuming I get to keep all of the knowledge and skills I’ve developed over the past few years?
If so, I would do webinars for companies who don’t know how to do it right, and I would ask for a commission on all sales. For example, I was recently talking to a guy who did webinars for a hamster food company, showing their customers how to clean the hamster cages, train the hamsters to do tricks, and so on. The hamster food company promoted the webinar, he did the presentation, and then at the end, they offered a $10 per month program where the hamster food would be delivered to your door. Over the course of a month, they had 3,000 people join, creating $30,000 per month in sales. His commission was 10%—about $3000 per month. Not bad for doing three or four webinars.
Granted, webinars are complicated. I average $40,000 in sales per webinar these days because I’m really good at them, but if I had to start from scratch WITHOUT the knowledge and experience I have now, there’s no way I could do that well. Webinars have been growing in popularity. Webinars are live, online presentations where there are usually multiple hosts discussing a specific topic. Companies are using webinars to educate current and customers on specific topics.
Individuals can also use webinars to raise their profiles. As an individual, you can offer your services to co-host a webinar with someone that has an audience. It can be difficult to host a webinar on your own so many people are looking for co-hosts. If you go beyond the usual contribution of a co-host you can get a good reputation as a webinar presenter and get exposure to multiple audiences.
Step One Identify Key Webinar Contributors In Your Niche
The most popular publications in your industry along with businesses and other organizations will be the places to look for webinars. Another place to find webinars is industry conference websites. These sites might not have webinars, but they often have past speakers listed. Do a Google search for the speaker’s name plus “webinar” and you’ll often find webinars the speakers have done.
Through this research you should find a few people that contribute regularly to webinars and that are current with their webinar participation. These are your potential targets for co-hosted webinars.
Step Two Research The Most Popular Webinars
After you identify popular webinar hosts, find popular webinars in your industry. You can tell this by looking at the number of comments and shares on webinar pages. Webinars are often published after they’ve gone live for ongoing streaming. The most popular webinars will be shared often and commented on by a number of followers.
Find the most popular webinars and extrapolate popular topics. From these topics, create an idea for a webinar that will become popular with people in your industry.
Step Three Reach Out To Hosts That Have Used Outside Co-Hosts
Now that you have an idea for a great webinar, go back to your list of webinar hosts and reach out with your idea. Again, focus on the world “because” early in your email and mention your idea for the webinar. You can include the reason why you want to cover the topic (because it’s popular).
Also offer to do all the grunt work to get the webinar ready to go. Offer to create an outline and provide research points for the webinar for the co-host. Make it easy for them to accept your offer. It may take a few emails to get things rolling so start the first email by introducing yourself and what you’re interested in doing. From there you can discuss the details.
Here is an example of a first email message to send:
My name is Aaron. I’m writing because I watched your webinar on [webinar topic]. It was a great presentation and I learned a lot.
I’ve been researching popular webinars in our industry and would like to get your thoughts on [your webinar idea].
I’m currently compiling research and putting together an outline and was wondering if you would be interested in co-hosting the webinar with me?
Find out more about me at aaronagius.com
The link to your personal website is a way for the recipient to find out more about you.
How To Build Your Brand Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is built as a network where you can reach out to people in your target audience to make connections. You want to connect with your target audience as a start. You want to optimize your profile and join relevant groups, but there are more advanced ways, ways that experts have used, to get better results from LinkedIn.
Step One Follow Lewis Howes’ Five Tips For Using LinkedIn
Lewis Howes is recognized as one of the experts on LinkedIn. He has built his own businesses using connections on LinkedIn and consults others on how to do the same along with speaking at numerous events.
Lewis has five steps for getting the most out of LinkedIn if you’re looking to grow your personal brand.
First, complete your profile. LinkedIn gives you a guide for filling out your profile, but Lewis found that to really get the most out of your profile you need to tell your story complete with who you are, who you help and how you help them. This allows potential connections to see if you can help them and if they are compelled they’ll reach out to you. Lewis has filled out his profile completely in every way including uploading videos and projects.
Second, Lewis recommends connecting with everyone. This includes people in your industry especially industry leaders. Don’t be afraid to ask for a connection from important people because people are generally accepting on LinkedIn and as your connections grow the people you ask will see that you have shared connections making them even more likely to accept your request.
Third, endorse and recommend others. A big part of Lewis and his success with LinkedIn is helping others. He suggestions endorsing others for the things they care about most. He also suggests recommending people for the areas they are most involved in. These endorsements aren’t just good for the people you give them to; they can be good for you as well because people often reciprocate.
Fourth, create a niche group within your industry like the Marketing Leaders of Australia.
As the owner of a group you have the potential to build another online asset that can be part of your personal brand. Reach out to people in your industry to get them interested in participating. Give them specific topics to write about within the group to get things started. Moderate the group so there isn’t any article sharing spam. You want the group to be a place where people can go to ask questions and to provide answers if they feel they can help. You can even start writing your own articles specifically for your LinkedIn group. Publishing it only in the group adds value for the members and can entice others to join to get access to the content.
Finally, add keywords to your profile to optimize it for search both within LinkedIn and for your public profile that can be found on external search engines like Google. If you’re an accountant, add keywords that employers might search for to your profile both within your description and summary and as a list of your specialties.
Use LinkedSelling & LinkedUniversity To Expand Your LinkedIn Efforts
LinkedSelling and LinkedUniversity are two companies focused on helping businesses get leads and sales using LinkedIn. There is free content available along with premium content and you can hire them to manage your LinkedIn campaigns.
For now, you can start by using their basic steps to connecting with your targeted connections.
First, by this point you’ll already have connections with your target connections and you’ll have started building your niche group like Lewis Howes mentioned in the previous step. At this point, you’re going to start messaging these people. LinkedIn gives you the ability to message your connections and members of your group. The first step is not asking these people for a job or to become your client. You have to build the relationship. With the first email you can simply introduce yourself by explaining who you are, the people you help and how you help them. That’s it.
Next, you’ll move through the process of selling your brand on LinkedIn, which are your profile and your group. For your group, you can share weekly messages complete with the best discussions, shared articles and the comments.
Over time, you’ll build trust with your followers. If your profile is setup to be appealing and your connections know what you’re about and what you offer they will reach out to you.
How To Control Your Personal Brand With Online Advertising
Finally, online advertising is a way for you to both protect and promote your brand. The pricing for your specific name will usually be fairly low unless you have a name that is close to a popular topic or brand name.
Step One Secure An Ad On Google And Other Search Engines
Secure the ad spots on Google for the keyword phrase that matches your exact name. Also bid on a few keywords similar to your name especially misspellings that people might search. Link these ads to your new personal website and use appropriate titles and descriptions in the ads. Think of the ads as mini-business cards. Use your name, title and short description to attract attention. You could even include your phone number in the ad to encourage people to contact you.
Step Two Secure Ad Space On Facebook For Your Target Audience
You can get very specific on the people you target with Facebook ads. If you don’t have a large budget you can start with as little as $1 a day and target your exact target audience. It might be sales managers in specific cities where you want to work. If your budget is larger you can expand the audience and increase the budget size per day.
Use the same approach to the ads. Use your professional picture and use a benefit-focused call in the text. Write something such as:
- Aaron Agius—Professional Marketer
- Get more leads and sales—Call Today
Not many people use advertising to build their personal brand, but people with strong brand recognition use it with success and you should too.
Don’t think taking out a Facebook Ad will really work?
Ian Greenleigh first used Facebook Ads to get interviews and within a few weeks he landed a new job. But he didn’t stop there. He wanted to further test how well Facebook Ads would work so he ran ads targeted at one of the top companies in the world: Google. He targeted specific people that worked at Google and earned 48 clicks. Those clicks represent interest in him as a candidate and it all came from a simple Facebook Ad. He later used the technique to get a new job as a VP Of Marketing. For this campaign he targeted the company’s CEO directly with his ad.