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Featured YEC Member Benefit: Online Personal Branding Services Powered by BrandYourself

“Our data shows that the average founder is getting Googled about 450 to 500 times a month. Those are potential employees, potential customers and potential investors,” says Patrick Ambron, co-founder and CEO of BrandYourself (brandyourself.com), an award-winning online reputation management (ORM) company -- and YEC’s newest benefit partner.

“If I’m looking for you, you want to impress me. It’s an opportunity to put your best foot forward. It’s a missed opportunity if nothing shows up at all.”

Founded in 2010 while Ambron and his co-founder Peter Kistler were still in college, BrandYourself has since served over a quarter of a million clients, from job hunters to top CEOs, by zeroing in on an underserved market: the increasing number of people who need help with Google results, but don’t want to pay an outrageously high price tag for short-term fixes. Unlike some of their less transparent competitors, Ambron and his team wanted to demystify the process of building a strong brand online by using white-hat SEO techniques and proven best practices, like thought leadership content and personal websites, to help their customers. To boot, they wanted to do it at a much more reasonable cost.

Since then, they’ve raised $4.8 million, introduced several new products and won a slew of awards, from nabbing a spot on Inc.’s Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35 list to getting recognized as the fastest growing ORM company by The Agency Post.

The demand continues to grow. Today, most CEOs and founders Ambron works with fall into two categories: those with unfortunate and often uncontrollable negative results (think: a vindictive ex-employee’s online reviews), and those with too few results to have credibility with the would-be investors, employees, partners and customers looking them up.

In both situations, the cost is high -- and often goes unnoticed until the damage is done.

That’s why YEC’s team worked with BrandYourself to develop a completely free, concierge-level personal brand service for all members. Here’s how it works: After a phone call with a BrandYourself expert, you will receive a personalized brand audit followed by a custom action plan outlining exactly what you must do to improve your presence online.

From there, BrandYourself’s team will help build one high-quality web property, depending on the results of your audit. Finally, they’ll train you on using their premium DIY tools so you can ensure you stay on track and continue to monitor the health of your personal brand. (Members interested in having BrandYourself handle the entire process can explore that option as well through a premium benefit.)

HOW TO GET STARTED
  1. Log into your YEC member dashboard and schedule your personal branding session with a BrandYourself expert.
  2. Receive a detailed personal brand audit with a custom action plan.
  3. BrandYourself’s team will help build one of the web properties that makes sense for your niche.
  4. Get training in BrandYourself’s premium DIY software to monitor the health of your brand.
  5. Optional: Upgrade to BrandYourself’s premium YEC benefit to have their team manage the process for you.

Says Scott Gerber, YEC founder and CEO, “We’re entrepreneurs too, and we know how critical it is to get your brand in front of investors, employees and customers online. We brought BrandYourself into the fold because it was a needed complement to our existing services, including media and mentorship offerings, and no one is better at ORM for entrepreneurs than the team behind BrandYourself.” 

Your Brand Is More Important Than Ever

While how well you control what appears on the first page of Google matters, building a personal brand isn’t merely an SEO play. It’s a long-term investment that has significant impact on your current business and anything you build in the future.

“Something like 75 percent of people will look up someone before doing business with them. This new benefit we’re offering to members is game-changing; we’ve never before partnered with an organization like YEC to offer this comprehensive level of service as a guaranteed benefit,” says Ambron.

Importantly, as a company brand’s reach grows, so does the cost of a founder or owner having poor results. “The higher-profile you get, the more likely you are to receive negative press or attention -- often for the wrong reason, through no fault of your own,” Ambron says. “Good results help you and bad results hurt you.”

He recounts one story about a founder whose personal brand was nearly devastated by one unhappy, highly vocal former employee. Or the professional services provider who, after starting his own company, soon realized all the word-of-mouth referrals were Googling him and, instead of finding his new business, were finding his old employer instead.

The bottom line? “If you don’t define yourself on the web you will be defined by something or someone else.”

Create Credibility and Control Your Results 

Creating a comprehensive online presence is just one part of the branding process, but it’s an important one, especially for members who invest time and money into earned media and contributed content (like YEC Q&A articles or interviews). The positive effect of content is magnified by having a strong personal brand presence and vice versa. 

“In simple terms, the more content you get out there that’s credible, it’s not only good in and of itself, but it helps verify and add authority to all the stuff you already have. You should have a good foundation: a website, a few profiles, your domain name. Then you can complement that by putting out more content in other places. All these things together build a strong presence,” Ambron explains. “Either of these things alone are fine, but together they can help you create that strong Google presence.”

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand Online
Ambron does have advice for leaders who want to take action right away. He describes the process as an umbrella -- a number of different points that all work together to help build a strong digital brand identity. For leaders doing this on their own, he recommends a four-point plan to get started:
    1. Get your domain name. If it’s taken, Ambron advises something more like yournameblog.com -- keep keywords together.
    2. Build a personal hub. At a minimum, populate it with a unique bio, highlights from your career, award information, resume and testimonials. Bonus: Write a blog regularly on topics that make sense for you (e.g., entrepreneurship or philanthropy).
    3. Create profiles on all major networks. Google trusts them, they rank well, and you control them -- so use them to share relevant and positive information, even if you are not a power user.
    4. Don’t forget basic SEO. Use your real name, create unique bios for each site that are relevant to your expertise, and link your various websites and profiles to each other.
    5. Update 1x month. Write a new blog, post an update, but keep it fresh.

Letting someone or something else control the way your brand is perceived is no longer an option. With BrandYourself, YEC members can get behind the wheel and control the direction -- now and in the future -- of their personal brand story.

“With this new benefit provided by YEC and BrandYourself, you’re really putting yourself in a position to get [the process of brand-building] off your plate. You’ve already got a lot of work to do as a business owner. Make sure you have the basics covered,” Ambron says.

Are you a YEC member interested in taking advantage of this benefit? Read more (or schedule your appointment) in our Knowledge Base.

This feature originally appeared in our Spring 2015 issue of YEC Quarterly, our print magazine for YEC members.