It doesn’t seem like it happened all that long ago, does it? When that very loud industry wide a-ha moment that made us all realize that highly effective online exposure of our listings (and be honest, ourselves), can dramatically influence our profit and bottom line numbers — and that the positioning of our online brand, if done well, would not only be vital to the stability and growth of our business but could create the kind of super stardom some crave.

In other words: This damn Internet thing is pretty f’n cool.

Of course it is, that’s why you are on it now, but you have to do it right! After all, just ask Monica Lewinski how “exposure” on the internet helped her.

See, a careful online public relations and brand building image campaign (for you and your listing) must be crafted well, or the personal credibility you waste could be more catastrophic than having not done anything at all.

As a leader of an office, responsible for building a superior team while hopefully driving profit, I have coached through success and failure. Though I always like to talk about how innovative I would like to be, it doesn’t mean that what I do always works. In fact, for every few campaigns I try, only one or two ideas really show proof in the proverbial “money back” pudding.

Ideas are funny that way — there is risk to everything. Indeed, some of the most “exposure” based campaigns I have tried have backfired because I didn’t remember what was most important: Whuffie (for questions about Whuffie ask Bill Lubin – he lives it) and if you try to hard, you can get it thrown right back at ya.

But, having said all that, I so believe in Whuffie. I do believe that a strategy based on sincerity and generosity of spirit is the best online, offline, PR, how to live life campaign there is and that it will reward anyone who tries it — and like a tween’s dedication to Stephanie Myers, you might find the devotion strong.

Even Stephanie Myers, though, relies on return. Lets examine some numbers that I can speak to personally.

More than four years ago, before it was fashionable, I developed a recruiting strategy based on social networking. It was multifaceted but not complicated: create a dynamic online presence that showed my approach, develop real sincere relationships based on that outreach, and then add quality, like minded people to my office based on those relationships.

What happened? It completely changed the dynamics of what had previously been a failed office. In just over four-and-a-half years, the office culture, profit, and growth have gained national recognition and things have worked out pretty well. And how? Well, lots of things, but creating relationships from my online presence was a huge part of the process.

In fact, I can calculate to the penny just how much “company dollar” the office has gained from my social media interactions. I can’t get too specific but it’s pretty impressive.

And how much did I spend doing all of this “exposing”?

Nada. ZERO. In fact, all the stuff I have tried that cost me money is where I usually failed.

The sad truth is there are a whole lot self-proclaimed Social Media guru’s and SEO carpetbaggers willing to take your money, promising services based on results most can’t keep or prove. Most have not the real world in-the-trenches business experience to show that they understand your real needs to do it well. (Indeed — until someone specializing in these services can prove to me they understand the pressure I feel beating the monthly expectations on my office profit & loss statement, talk to the hand.)

Please don’t misunderstand; there are many people who can help you.

There are some truly extraordinary innovators out there, who are not only passionate but also credible based on their experiences, however, these beautiful minds are stretched — unable to be everywhere all the time. However, many of them are affiliated with Inman Next, and will absolutely help you if you reach out to them. That is what makes them so awesome!

Moreover, what I love about InmanNext™, and other venues like it, is that the forum allows so many to learn from the so few in a safe, and free, ongoing dialogue.

But as for the matter of your online persona and brand, I’m very sorry to say, no one can do that for you. It must be you! Don’t let anyone blog for you, Tweet for you, or anything else for you.

Simply, no one should be you. You be you.

And if you do that, and be that, and drive that consistency with a generosity of spirit as your guide, you will not fail. And that is a promise you can count on. (No charge.)


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