How to Get Noticed

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.

The problem:
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.

Get personal
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.

Lead events
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.

Be interesting
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.

98 Replies to “How to Get Noticed”

  1. Interview people. Not only does this help promote others (choose both well-known people and up and coming folks), it connects you to people who will chat you up. I started my blog 4 years ago and did a weekly “Smart Man Online” or “Smart Woman Online” interview, and gained a lot of attention for it. Not to mention, most of the people interviewed told their mailing list or blog readers about the interview.

    Another idea, particularly for bloggers, is to creat an editorial calendar for writing. If you have a specific topic you write about on a specific day…over time, people interested in that topic will know when to come to your blog. On my interview days, my traffic was much higher than on other days.

  2. Yvonne

    That’s an excellent idea. Shel (who I just linked to above) does just that, in fact, he’s turned it into a career. I interview folks all the time for my research reports, and it’s a great way to get smarter, and build relationships with folks.

    Good one.

  3. I have only (past two months) starting working on my “personal brand”, and have been thinking about just this question (how to get noticed). Off the top of my head, here are some things that I have done.

    I have started to blog (often) @ http://www.afpr.com on the social media & consumer software space. The blog is in essence my online personal brand. Short of meeting, or speaking to me this is likely where one will get a sense of what I am about (professionally speaking). I use the usual tools to drive people in my space to my blog; LinkedIn, Facebook,Xanga,FriendFeed and Twitter.

    I have just now started taking this to the next phase, and so I am setting up Google alerts on terms relevant to my expertise. When I see that people have blogged about something there, if I can add something intelligent, I leave my comment. I have also started hitting the “speaker circuit”, and recently spoke at a Web 2.0 conf. in NYC. As time permits, I will be elaborating on a lot of the content of my blog to create complete articles. I will then submit these articles as features on sites (and in print) where user submissions are accepted.

    Lastly, on Twitter (Tweet me @A_F ) I have been building a network of my peers, and again as with blog commenting, if I can add something intelligent into the mix – I join in the conversation. I believe on Twitter, it is also helpful to post links to content (even content I did not create) that my fellow Tweeps might find of interest.

  4. Hi Jeremiah – these are great tips. I’m trying hard to build a personal brand. And looking at your list, I can see there’s many things I still need to be doing.

    I think I would add – don’t be afraid of offending people. No matter what you write, there’s always someone who isn’t going to like it, so don’t edit stuff out just to avoid rocking the apple cart.

    Jeremiah, I see you’ve been blogging for three years on here. How long does it take on average to build a recognisable brand?

  5. Andrew great tips, I’ll be watching your progress, keep at it. Using Google alerts for topics you watch is key. I have alerts setup for “Social networks, online communities, web strategy,”and of course all the ego variations.

  6. Cath

    Great points, I see two topics here:

    1 Sure, offending folks is ok, as long as you have a greater purpose. Perhaps a better way to approach this is be willing to state your viewpoint and be able to back it up. Stating one’s viewpoint and demonstrating authority is the goal –not “being prepared to offend others”. Focus on the goal, not the risk to achieve success.

    2 Regarding you other question about “how long does it take on average to build a recognizable brand”

    This reminds me of a Tae Kwon Doe instructor I used to know. Once he had a hot headed young guy come into the studio and apply for membership and ask “How long does it take to get a black belt?”

    Our instructor showed him the door and quickly said if you have to ask that, then this is not the right place for you.

    A bit zen you may think, but this was a true story. Again, it depends on what your goal is, a tremendous amount of passion and effort can yield a fast result. For example, take a look at Louis Gray who has been on the circuit but really started to take notice of folks this year. His passion fueled his fame.

  7. One tip should be that you shouldn’t wait for your consumer to find you. Find out where your customers “hang out” and then join in the conversation. People love to be discovered online and feel like their input is valuable, especially to a company.

  8. I think that a lot of people don’t get the idea of personal brand. And even those that do, don’t always get the concept of consistent branding. I agree wholeheartedly that consistent branding is really important, and that includes your name & photo, but also a consistent tone across all of your public & social media. If you’re very professional and conservative on one site and then let loose the dirty jokes on another, that dichotomy will be noticed and questioned. Which one is the real you? That’s not a question you want people to be asking.

    I do disagree that URL is not important, though. I think it’s an important part of the consistent branding message. Unless you have a very high profile or very unusual name, chances are that you won’t be the only one with your name returned in Google results. This is where the power of a recognizable URL kicks in. The searcher will see all these disparate results and be able to pick you out of a crowd more easily. For example, there was a girl in a Michael Jackson video named Kellie Parker. Same spelling and everything. Also, there’s also a local news anchor in Knoxville named Kellie Parker. Only 4 of the top 10 Google results are actually about me. Good Google results are only half the battle.

  9. Angela

    Exactly, the ol’ join vs build your own is an important decision point. I joined a bunch of Yahoo groups related to topics I was interested in and eventually ended up becoming the moderator of some of them.

  10. Kellie

    I’m going to stand my ground for why URLs are not as important as we may think. For example, many folks domain are found if they search their “first last” name and the google results to their website (regardless of domain) often come up first.

    Of course, to your point that if this is a keyword topic that is popular (say “facebook marketing”) is the goal, then having a the facebookmarketing.com domain sure will help more than not having it.

  11. another important point (from my days in Sales)… Ask for the order… Now at the end of my blog posts and comments, I have my own little call to action.

    Why not follow my Tweets http://twitter.com/A_F or Why not link in? http://www.linkedin.com/AndrewFinkle

    Lastly even better then Tinyurl… when using a URL shortener, consider using http://bit.ly/c1SKy Using Bitly lets you track how many times people click on your link. Good to know if you REALLY want to micro-track what is working for you, and what is not.

  12. Jeremiah,

    I certainly agree that in the brand space, a URL is important. Sure, if XYZ company has a very complicated URL that nobody can remember, I can Google them and probably find their site in the top listings. But it’s a missed opportunity for the company to further cement their brand in the consumer’s mind. And personally, when I see company XYZ with an overly convoluted URL, I think twice about that company.

    In the personal space, I think the same principal is at play, although I agree that the personal brand doesn’t always have to be the name. You and your web-strategist.com domain, Dawn Foster and her Fast Wonder brand are just two examples. But I really think that having a good domain name that is fitting you & your message and is easy to remember is better than not.

    Another tip that I would suggest is to actively seek ways to be helpful within the network that you create. Don’t hesitate to jump in and answer questions, give advice, lend a supporting hand. When you are in need of assistance, people will jump in to help you a lot more readily than if you were a stranger making a request. I have found this to be true thusfar in my job search. Over the past few years, I’ve built a network of community managers and social media strategists, and have never turned down an opportunity to talk to someone, listen to someone, to give my point of view on a topic or issue, or just generally to assist someone with something. Now that I am the one in need, this is being paid back to me tenfold. To receive much, you must give much. You have to make a deposit before you can make a withdrawal.

  13. Thanks for sharing this insight Jeremiah. I love how you break it down so it’s simple to understand and actionable.

    One thing that I would add or at least touch on in ‘getting noticed’ is:

    “Learn to listen”

    I know you have and still do talk about this so it’s nothing new to you 🙂 … but I see it as one of the pieces that should be emphasized any chance possible. I’ve found it to be such an important part of being successful in the social media world.

    If you can’t listen you will not succeed.

    Jeremiah … how do you personally go about listening and taking the next step of putting what you ‘hear’ into action?


    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  14. Kellie

    Good one: being proactive to help others before you ask for help.

    Frank, me talk? naaaw.

    How do I incorporate listening into my action? I read a lot of blogs and news. In fact, on average, I spend two hours every morning aggregating and inputting content then synthesizing it in blog posts. (often I start at 3-4 am and do this for two hours)

    I then create digests, index posts, and lists of all shapes and forms to keep track of what’s happening, then refer to these for clients, reports, or for my own use.

    I often tweet our friendfeed interesting topics to get the word out about what I think is important –or interesting.

    Also, I filter a dozen or so press releases or pitches in my email every day, listening to what people are announcing sometimes yields important information.

    Listening is a big part of my being –yet I still need to do a better job.

  15. Interesting article, and useful tips – thanks!

    I had discovered a few, not all, of them, independently, but in more of an intuitive way over a period of time, and have been trying to apply them to help with my own work as an independent software consultant. But its good to see them being articulated clearly – helps make it stick in the mind.

    – Vasudev

  16. Vasudev Ram, Beatrice Blann

    Glad you found it useful. Vas, yes it gets more intuitive as you do it more, it soon becomes and natural part of your communications. The trick is not to take all of them all on at once, but to pick a few master them, then layer on more.

  17. Hi Jeremiah,
    I’m following you and I think you have great ideas!

    Here are my tips:
    Be authentic,
    Be nice
    Give back
    Sounds simplistic, but it works. 🙂

  18. I love this topic and all of the comments above. I’ll stand out here with a different approach ;)…

    If you want to stand out in social media and the more important business sphere and the even more important adventure that is life, try a few of these:

    1. Read through an entire newspaper (by the way, that’s newsprint paper with ink). Make your way through every section (do the classifieds even exist anymore?). You’ll be amazed at the stories you’ll discover, the perspectives you’ll read. You’ll find a movie or public meeting that never even made it to Twitter or Upcoming.

    2. Watch a cable news network that is diametrically opposite to your traditional beliefs. Try it during the election, but pay attention to your own biases and need for passive listening. Resist the urge to argue or scream, and concentrate hard on what the commentator or guest is saying and why it is important to them.

    3. Look for business insight from someone who lives by their tips. It’s always the sign that they know how to sell and communicate. Give me a bartender or a concierge at a hotel and I’ll give you a great PR/Marketing professional in about a week.

    4. Take a break from blogs, Tweets, podcasts – go outside and become an ethnographer. You’ll need to find a population that you have had zero previous experience. Some examples I’ve tried: Native American students at UMass Amherst; a Jewish tow truck driver; Manchester United supporters at the Phoenix Landing; a Palestinian rapper; someone who was just was released from jail; lobbyists who work for a tobacco company. Check your ego and preconceptions and let your “subject” talk and tell the story of their life and what’s important to them. Give that person or group a diary or video camera or a login to Utterz and let them share what made them who they are. Why? Well it’s great to send out a Tweet request and cool to do an online Survey Monkey but it’s too quick and ephemeral – it’s the surface.

    4. Wear goofy sports glasses to social media events and business meetings. Sorry, but it’s worked for me 8)

    Again, love this topic and this look at our critical human need to stand out and have a meaningful existence.

    Final point picked up at my brother’s “church” yesterday –
    “In every thought, look for the power to change the world.”

  19. A great start of a list. I’d suggest (along the lines of “lead events”) 1) arrange/be on a panel of for a skillset/subject matter affinity group and 2) teach a course in the professional development program of your local college/university. You do learn a lot while you contribute to the knowledge of others. 3) Cultivate your online presense with all info requested for the profile complete etc. and link your online presence (so they are consistent and refer to one another). Cheers –

  20. In addition to those great ideas I’m going to add ‘Be Helpful’. People will notice if you’re willing to help them, as well as mentor & support those in your field.

    I’m not sure if attending events is critical. I’ve only attended one national & a couple in Minnesota, but I’ve been able to establish a presence. To date the phone/skype has worked. But I’m thrilled to be going to BlogWorld & meet ppl from my network like Darren Rowse & all of my North American friends. And I must admit that I’m planning on SXSW.

    So how to be helpful? go above & beyond. I am a Comm Mgr at heart so it’s my job. This weekend found me offering hosting for the Gustav wiki. I offered that Network Solutions host it (I work for them). And today finds me guest blogging for a lady that blogged thru Katrina & requested help yesterday. What can I say from Minnesota? I can help aggregate information & just lend a supporting hand (virtually).

  21. My 2 cents:

    1. Be real, as in a real person with real experiences good, bad or otherwise. Share those experiences and what it has taught you. Personal experience is the only thing you have that can’t be outsourced.

    2. Keep it simple, with laser like precision. Pinpoint what you do well, not the romantic idea of who you are. Don’t get swept up trying to be all things to everyone (kitchen sink approach).

    Liza

  22. Finding your voice, the voice matters as much as the message. Depending on how authentic you come across as a real person, it gives the reader something to latch onto, makes you more real. With the above robert scoble nod, you know that he usually speaks with his own voice, there are a lof of others who are successful who do, like readwriteweb, ask the admin, and others. Make them much more fun to read.

  23. Hi Jeremiah,

    Lots of insightful material on this post and within the comments section. As someone relatively new to the social media space – I Tweet occasionally and only recently beefed up my LinkedIn profile – I’m still finding my way around this sphere and figuring out how it all gels together.

    Based on my observations so far, I think fundamentally, being an active participant within the social media community is about adding value to the conversations you participate in, and staying authentic about it. The more you keep this goal in mind when using social media tools, the closer one gets to defining and shaping his/her own personal voice (brand) on the web.

    Like I said, I’m no social media expert, and I’m still trying to find my personal voice in all this, but its fascinating stuff and I’m enjoying the ride.

  24. Another great posts Jeremiah. I started my consultancy to ad agencies for business development back in November of 2007. A great way that helped get notice was providing fresh insight by conducting online surveys and polls. Be among the first to spot new trends in your area of expertise that is beneficial to your target audience. You can also use the result as the basis of a press release and/or pre-eminence building tool.

    http://www.fuelingnewbusiness.com

  25. Jeremiah,

    What I noticed when attempting to load this article was that your Dreamhost web server might be having some issues:

    “Internal Server Error The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@web-strategist.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log. Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.”

  26. “I asked them how I can be a better blogger (get links from A-listers) he told me to ‘be interesting’,

    Bleh. The implicit part of this is “… to A-listers” (“be interesting … to A-listers”)

    Now, suck up to A-listers, is not strictly speaking, bad advice. But the competition is fierce and not for everyone.

  27. Great stuff Jeremiah! We are currently working to begin our events in October after noticing a gap. Your thoughts on the subject were like a kick in the seat of my pants…I was beginning to drag my feet about it 🙂

  28. Good list. I’d add: Be Helpful

    I’ve found that for myself and my wife ( http://www.catcancook.com ) the most important things in building traffic to our sites was putting resources online that other people found helpful. In my case web design articles and resources, in her case jewellery tips and recipes.

    For example – article is something helpful — and it got all of our attention. 🙂

  29. Seth you’re right, in the end, sucking up to alisters is a bad strategy. It actually hasn’t worked for me, they rarely link to me, as I don’t tend to write about things that interest them.

  30. frank

    Which blogs to I pay attention to? I actually stopped paying attention to ‘blogs’ by themselves and don’t use my feedreader that much, instead, I use aggregation services, alerts, based on topics –no people.

    But, there’s a few that are consistently on target for my focus on corporate web such as RWW, Mashable, Louis Gray, Shel Israel, Groundswell.

  31. I just changed my blog header to include a photo of myself and it’s been received quite positively. I’ve had several comments from folks saying it’s nice to see who’s giving them advice.

  32. I was talking recently with someone about if it is easier to promote a personal brand (like my blog) or a non-personal brand (like cherios) and didn’t really come up with an answer! What is your take? What’s easier to develop attention for a personal or non-personal brand?
    http://ryanagraves.com

  33. Thank you very much for this great post. I’m starting to blog on E-learning 2.0 to promote my program and so far is trying to get as noticed as possible.

    The problem with Events is there’re not a lot of them over here. But I’ll attend as many as possible within the allowable context.

  34. Jeremiah_owyang – Thanks for the compliment. Writing a blog in the home improvement niche is hard sledding but the site is growing every day. It’s great to hear some nice feedback occasionally!

  35. Got you from Problogger, as he always finds great guest bloggers.

    Anyway, getting noticed can be done in two ways – be very good or be very bad. But I prefer the first one of course.

    Be a good Samaritan, that is. Help the ones in need of your tips especially newbies. As a blogger, you can find places where you can offer a free service like Yahoo Answers, forums and others.

    I am pretty sure they will be sharing your name to others, and you will be surprise with the result.

    Just my 2 cents.

  36. Hi,

    Followed through to your post from Problogger. Yes, you have identified great ways to be noticed.

    I was very happy to find that helping others by using social bookmarks gets you noticed on the search engines, too.

    Youtube vidoes and podcasting are two more ways to get noticed. Being a guest of someone else’s show gives you an implied recommendation as well.

    My shows are http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drsallywitt and http://www.youtube.com/drsallywitt.

    There is always a fine line that is not the same for everyone between self-promotion, and being over the top.

    Thank you for a good post!

    Sally

    http://www.drsallywitt.com

  37. Jeremiah,
    Thank you for this article. Here’s my question. Is PPC going away because of Web 2.0 and the majority of clicks coming through organic? Or as we neophytes embark on aggressive Internet marketing should we make sure to include PPC? Is it still necessary? Or can you forgo it for Web 2.0 initiatives? Or is it both?

    Any experts can answer this or point me to place to find answer? Jeremiah, your thoughts?

  38. About getting noticed – Jeremiah says it all – exept that it’s important to not only be interesting but BE BRIEF, concise and to the point! People always read what’s short – like sound bytes. Easy to remember, specially for branding!

  39. Great conversation!! A few points I’d reinforce:
    (1) Use of Google/Yahoo/MSN alerts: I run the 82nd ABN, 3rd BCT support group and have been using these alerts for years! I have found some really good resources/sources of info I may never have found otherwise.
    (2) Being helpful/answer questions, provide information: I voluntarily provide information to a few military/veteran support groups on current medical issues (PTSD, TBI); you can also answer questions on various sites such as eHow, YahooAnswers… not necessarily to earn money/points, etc. but to get your name/expertise out there.

    From my blog [blog.inception2invention.com], people can subscribe to receive [free] the latest information on a variety of medical (clinical & consumer) topics. BTW, the calendar idea was really great too!).

    Quick point (which seems obvious but isn’t always): be sure to check your spelling/grammar when posting…
    …and read, read, read!
    Karen
    i2i | inception2invention

  40. Imagine – Many months ago, I had read this article n just moments ago, I was linked back here by a blog highly recommending it!

    Thks for the great tips, Jeremiah! 🙂

    In the beginning I set off to differentiate myself in my travelogue:

    One that’s personal, not just bland how-to-go-where-do-what dry info. One that’s even intuitive & intelligent, not just another “I-hv-been-somewhere-so-i’m-blogging-abt-it” casual account.

    Later, my positioning develop as I see myself – & to my readers I hope – that I am the “non-expert”, of this place(s) I’m blogging abt.

    There are many good sources abt this place(s) online & offline. Most are experts (some self-proclaimed ones too) in providing tourist info of this place.

    I wonder how my positioning may work..

    Say, if U’ll be free to drop by – do U perceive my positioning somehow, n how distinct is my “non-expert” differentiation..?

    Thks again – great site! Xie xie! 🙂

    Dave
    TaipeiDreams.com

  41. These are good tips for beginners and I chose to use them in today’s post. I just want to add the crowd that I couldn’t imagine doing this without being helpful. My first reaction is to give a lot to the community over time. Pointing to their work or creating a place for great information.

    Beyond that I think realizing that it takes time to build a community around your brand is important. It won’t happen overnight but it will eventually if you offer something valuable.

  42. (I’m replying after a while, missed tracking this one, sorry.)

    >The trick is not to take all of them all on at once, but to pick a few master them, then layer on more.

    Yes, thanks again, Jeremiah. Makes sense.

    Good to see so many responses and more ideas on this topic …

    – Vasudev

  43. Great post. I think in order to get noticed you do have to have a goal, create a personal brand and be interesting. One way I have found to set myself apart from others is to create an online portfolio of my goals, ideas and work history. I did this at http://www.personavita.com. It really like how I can organize my thoughts and create the best “me” for others to see. I think once you recognize who you are, others will then start to notice.

  44. this are truly indeed some good point u made about getting noticed when u just launched a new product or niche website.it's really imperative we do our research before we launch the product & after launching the product one need to do a good internet promotion of their product in internet

  45. this are truly indeed some good point u made about getting noticed when u just launched a new product or niche website.it's really imperative we do our research before we launch the product & after launching the product one need to do a good internet promotion of their product in internet

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  47. Thank you for this article. Here's my question. Is PPC going away because of Web 2.0 and the majority of clicks coming through organic? Or as we neophytes embark on aggressive Internet marketing should we make sure to include PPC? Is it still necessary? Or can you forgo it for Web 2.0 initiatives? Or is it both?

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