About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

Linked In

Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles – Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but it’s bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

RSS for this blog
Building Your Online Brand
2013-03-07 20:01:59

I belong to and manage/moderate several online groups; this includes groups on Yahoo!, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I have been *asked* to help with several of them because of my fairly consistent presence and the fact that I try to keep up the integrity of discussion groups by barring and being vigilant about spam. Beyond that, I have intentionally created a very definitive, multi-faceted online presence.

My brand tends to revolve in two different main categories: recruiting/HR and career management, and writing/publishing. Being a well-known recruiter in Seattle and other markets is a byproduct of my career choices. I would like to state, for the record, that I did not “choose” recruiting; it chose me. Before I got into recruiting, I did a lot of content management (via content management systems and databases) and prior to that mostly I worked in administrative or customer service roles. My career was not planned, it was accidental and the result of me taking chances, seizing opportunities, and learning as much and as quickly as I could to build a diversified skill set. So the content management piece is truly the bedrock of my online presence, coupled with my 10 years in recruiting/HR. I’ve been writing since just before I got into recruiting, so they are somewhat synonymous.

So let’s define a couple of concepts: “online” and “brand”.

When I talk “online” I mean it all: social media, pictures, articles and research papers, your high school yearbook, the synagogue directory that publishes your cell phone number, the online petition you signed in 1992 banning xyz in your community. Yes, that’s right. There are things online that you may not even be aware of. I am an expert researcher when it comes to finding people. I was once challenged with finding contact information from a friend for a mutual favorite actor. An hour later, I had his cell phone number and called it. His daughter answered (I asked for someone ridiculous and she said “no, this is X”). It was on a tennis club directory in his hometown. My point is, there is a lot more than you think online with your name on it. You cannot control everything, but you can consciously create a professional brand in the areas you want to be recognized as an expert, and when you have enough of an online footprint, some of the more esoteric items fall far away as less important.

Now for your brand. Very simply this is an image, concept, profession, or “persona” (if you will) that you want to be recognized as. You can deliberately manage this, or you can let it evolve organically. If you choose not to manage your brand, be aware that it can be the subject of negative influence from others.
This piece is about deliberately managing your brand, and doing so online. How are some ways you can create a recognizable, strong positive brand?

-Decide on how you want to be recognized. By your profession? Are you trying to use your name or another sort of persona to define your brand? A unique concept? Your hobby? Keep in mind that two things are going to be the easiest to manage: either your name (unless you have a common name like “Joe Smith”) or a strong, singular concept, possibly including a nickname. Use it for you social media profiles like your Twitter handle, Pinterest identity, and make sure it’s part of your LinkedIn profile and your blog.

-What is your “angle” as an expert? In my case, my blog melds my experience as a recruiter and writer in a no-nonsense series of articles about job hunting from the hiring side of the equation. I had a career-advice column on the Seattle Times, I’m well-known in the local recruiting and tech communities, and this is how I have concentrated my own brand. One of my professional colleagues is a Talent Sourcer, and her brand is “Research Goddess” (and yes, she is.) Even my volunteer work involves recruiting and onboarding for the local chapter of an international non-profit. To create a strong “brand” you need to have a consistent message and voice, if you will. You don’t want to be just one more widget maker from New York. What makes YOU the best, most knowledgable widgeteer in the Big Apple?! (Notice the self-created title and referring to New York City by its casual moniker? That is branding.)

-Share information. This means building community with your peers/colleagues, and anyone else you might want to “know” you! Tweet articles of interest; comment on blogs (and write one!); if you disagree with something written, professionally state *why* you don’t and support it with your expertise. Thoughtfully disagreeing with something online is a great way to create an intricate reputation as someone that is “in the know”. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your brand, and answer questions. Ask them if appropriate (but see my blog on “LinkedIn for Professional Writers” on how not to use LinkedIn.) Start a Pinterest board that has to do with your online brand and persona, and share the pins with your Facebook and Twitter followers and friends.

-Be a “curator”. Nowadays, content is king; but what if you don’t know how or don’t have enough time to create a stellar amount of content (highly unlikely given the rise of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook images)? Become a “curator”, which means you create a centralized repository of information. In the old days (you know, the 20th century) this concept would have been akin to a portal. Here is a great primer. Curation is about you creating and maintaining (that is a key concept) a repository of online content grouped around a specific theme. You create a destination for people of like minds/interests to your own.

-Let the “real you” shine through in some places. These days everyone connects with their online personas, and if you are all business all the time, you come across as shallow or insincere. So don’t be afraid to put a little bit of personality into your online branding. An example would be my twitter account. I post a few things every now and then about books, travel, favorite bands, and hobbies that are not going to be considered in poor taste. I retweet and “favorite” certain amusing tweets just because they appeal to me, and follow public celebrities, but I am mindful not to do so with things that could be considered slanderous or highly controversial. An occasional picture of your dog, or a video from your vacation in Disneyland add a bit of personality to your online social persona. On Facebook, I often will post “Dear…(Candidate, Hiring Manager, Colleague)” amusing anecdotal “rants”. (A recent example: “Dear Colleagues: I know this may come as a total shock to you, but we in recruiting use your Outlook calendar to schedule interviews and meetings. This means we assume your calendar is up to date. As Nike says: JUST DO IT. Lack of planning on your part does not create an emergency on mine. Ciao.”)

-Keep your truly private life and your public persona separate. When Facebook recently changed their policies about searchability, I changed my private account by using a nickname for my display name, and I opened a new public account under my full name (including my middle initial and a different email address.) My private wall is where I share my views on politics, social issues, and details about my family life. I don’t want my friends and family to have *their* information revealed via a search for me and my views on things such as women’s rights or religion. As a recruiter, I am highly visible just because I’m posting jobs regularly.

-Create some sort of portfolio. Most people think you have to be in some sort of “creative” career to have a portfolio, but that isn’t true. If you are a software engineer, it will be coding samples. If you are a mechanic, it can be photos of work you have done (before/after shots) and discuss technique. A stock broker can have graphic representations of his successful wealth management strategies. A real estate agent should obviously have photos of the houses she has sold. An attorney can have a list of cases won and any articles or briefs published that are public record. A retail associate can take photos of products and outfits created/sold. It’s about merchandizing *yourself* in ways that are going to make sense to other people.

-Become well enough established in your local community that people ask you to speak on panels and deliver keynote addresses or teach seminars/classes. Record these sessions and then create a Youtube channel/podcast station, then cross-promote your expertise on all your social media channels. Put your presentation decks on Slideshare (keep them password protected and view-only to protect your intellectual property.) Create a reputation for yourself in the community as someone willing to chat and share knowledge. Be open and offer to conduct informational interviews to your local careercenters at colleges and the unemployment office. Volunteer for SCORE. Make the acquaintance of independent reporters, and be quoted in news media articles of interest in your profession.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas, but it should be enough for anyone to get a start. If you are job hunting or have thrown out your own shingle, this sort of activity is *crucial* to you to stand out from the competition. And as any recent college graduate or over-50 unemployed executive can tell you, it’s a jungle out there.

Morgan G.: Re: - Building Your Online Brand
2013-04-02 10:03:21

To your point on Facebook's privacy settings. I find the chatter of the last year on this point interesting, because it is not necessary to change your name to a nickname in order to avoid being searched on Facebook. It is still possible to have security settings such that you cannot be sought without permission. As the only person with my name on the internet (quite literally, as I regularly protect my online brand), it is important to me to keep up the wall between my private and professional lives. Your other tips are very on point, I just don't agree that one must use a nickname on Facebook instead of their actual name. Of course, this comes with additional diligence of not posting comments in groups or events that are open to the public. That may be too limiting for many, which then leads to the next "best practice" of using a nickname.

Edie S: Re: - Building Your Online Brand
2013-04-03 08:42:56

Morgan, what Kristen said was that she uses a nickname for her PERSONAL Facebook page and keeps a separate account for her professional image with her real name. Yes, you can set your privacy settings so that you aren't "found" on Facebook, to some degree, but if you are a publicly known figure it might be better to have a separate account. There is very little, if any, truly "private" information online. This is just a strategy to protect your "brand".
Great information Kristen! Thank you.

Rachel Y: Re: - Building Your Online Brand
2013-04-08 15:46:40

Thank you Kristen, this is extremely helpful! As someone who is relatively young in the working world, I want to make sure that I am establishing a personal brand that accurately reflects my talents, interests, and qualifications. Thank you for your wise advice and no-nonsense perspective. This is exactly what I needed!

Kristen Fife: Re: - Building Your Online Brand
2013-04-10 10:02:45

Glad I'm able to help. Morgan, I have two FB pages under different email addresses and names. The personal one is where I "like" pages, people etc. and join a wide variety of groups that might be detrimental to my professional life.

Kristen Fife: Re: - Building Your Online Brand
2013-05-09 11:19:48

This article just came out on LinkedIn today, and it is relevant to this post so I am including a link here:

Marketing Yourself on LinkedIn.

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