Your personal brand is arguably as important as your professional resume.

By establishing a personal brand, and thought leadership following, opportunities will come to you.

No more following the disjointed job application process, or cold pitching partners/clients.

  • Job opportunities come in the form of headhunters and recruiters.
  • For entrepreneurs? It’s often business owners who approach you, looking to partner up on marketing or more.
  • If you’re selling a service/consulting, clients interested in your skills will read up on your work. And realize it’s over their head. Then approach you for help.

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Use what you have, do what you can, get what you want.

The business benefits of building a digital reputation are clear. Beyond that, the tools available to you make it very simple to gain social momentum.

  • Free tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs have structure and reach you can leverage
  • Everything you publish is live on the internet, forever (which can be a positive or a negative)

The definite positive here? It’s easy to locate your content on-demand. And all its shares, comments, and likes are immediately available.

So, take advantage of the platforms available to you. And growth-hack your personal brand, just as you would a business.

Here are the 3 ways I grew my personal brand 5x in less than 5 months.

1. Contribute to publications you admire that can help you grow your reach.

Comb through your contacts and reach out to people who (or have friends who ) contribute to the publications you want to write for. Facebook groups are a good place to start, “Anyone here write for Mashable?”

If you have rapport with them, it’s likely they’ll invite you to contribute. If not, simply ask how to apply.

I recommend committing 2-5 articles per month. If you write for 2 publications, that would be 1-3/publication, per month.

You’ll use this outlet for sharing your personal and/or business story. Share your leadership & business experience, research you’ve done and insights gained. Just be careful not to dilute your message with other people’s priorities or asks.

Don’t be afraid to be honest in your writing. It’s better to have 1,000 true fans than 1,000,000 disengaged viewers.

Discovering your author voice demands a certain candor with readers, as well as yourself.

Once you begin contributing to a publication, join:

  • The Slack group for writers contributing to that publication
  • A Facebook group of writers from various publications who guest post for each other and cross-promote
  • Make an explicit agreement to share each other’s work via your social channels

My Personal Experience & Metrics:

Before: 1 personal blog readership – reaching 600 monthly readers

After: 1 author role at an established blog – reaching 27,000 monthly readers

Results: 45X growth in readers in 6 months.

I love entrepreneurship, so I pursued Influencive. I applied, used 2 references and 2 writing samples, and soon began writing. You can apply here, too.

One article I posted to Influencive immediately turned a profit. A Forbes 30 Under 30 Founder asked me straight up if I wanted a job running her startup’s growth department.

In 3 months of authoring and thought leadership, I now have over 100k readers of my work. I expect it to at least double if I take another authorship role.

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2. Grow Your Twitter, FAST.

Twitter is the most underrated social channel, particularly for business. Content goes viral on Twitter very easily. Much more easily than it does on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I tweeted my first story on Influencive to a few role models/influencers. One thought leader with 48K followers retweeted my story the first day. Then, over the weekend over 1,500 people retweeted that post. Yet, on Facebook only ~60 people liked and 10 commented.

This is also partly due to the hashtag effect. By using lifestyle-centric, trending hashtags, many profiles automatically retweet you. Other users search out hashtags related to their interests and interact with you.

The opposite? You don’t use any hashtags, and people only see your tweets in their main feed. The main feed is ridiculously fast and hard to pay attention to. The other case they see your tweet is if they visit your profile and look at your feed.

Think of someone with 100K following – are they really visiting profiles one-by-one searching for interesting content?

So, just by using the correct hashtags, you can double your reach.

Automate the Monotonous Tasks

Another way to grow rapidly in a targeted way is to automate your follow and unfollow activity. There are several tools for this – just Google “Twitter automation”.

With automation, it’s not uncommon for accounts can gain 100-300 followers in a day.

I use my automation tools less often than I would like. I check in to growth-hack my accounts about once a week.

Funny enough – I gain better business reach and blog readership with Twitter than LinkedIn.

My Personal Experience & Metrics:

Before: @TCGstyle on Twitter  – June 1 2016

  • 156 followers, 331 following

After: @TCGstyle on Twitter – August 1 2016

  • 932 followers, 1,100 following

Results: 5.9X follower growth in 2 months.

This would have been dramatically higher if I had used my automation tools more often.

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Every day, this is what I see in Twitter ^^^. Often it says “99+.” Engagement is high on Twitter. It’s that simple.

3.  Become an Instagram Influencer.

Instagram is where the eyes and the hearts are. Especially now that Instagram has Stories, like Snapchat.

First, get in the habit. Post visually consistent photos regularly (at least 3-5 times/week). Then, engage deeply with your audience – like, comment and follow/unfollow. My company is Vea Fitness – an App that gives you monetary rewards and product discounts for working out. So we post lifestyle images related to fitness, travel, shopping and happiness.

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Instagram is another tool you should most definitely automate.

It’s simply too much work to follow/unfollow and interact with 100’s of thousands of people to gain your first 10K+ followers.

There are a few options for automation, but I personally use SociallyRich. My plan is $29/month.

It saves me several hours per month and grows my following rapidly, even if I’m not paying attention to it.

(Sidebar, I also have an intern managing my Instagram page by posting pictures).

My Personal Experience & Metrics:

Before Automation: @VeaOfficial on Instagram – June 1 2015

  • 113 followers, 445 following
  • 45 average likes/post
  • 1-2 comments/post

After Automating follow, unfollow and likes with SociallyRich: @VeaOfficial on Instagram – August 1, 2016

  • 13.1K followers, 3,169 following
  • 700 average likes/post
  • 12-18 comments/post

Results: 115X follower growth in 14 months. Largely more engagement and likes/post.

What’s your favorite personal branding hack? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

JonathanOpinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Jonathan Maxim
Jonathan Maxim is an app designer, digital marketer and thought leader in the fitness and technology realms. After leaving his job at a Fortune 50 company, he merged his management experience with his passion for technology and innovation to create Apps that encourage fitness and wellness. Educated at San Diego State University first in Graphic Design and User Interface, he went on to gain his Masters of Business from SDSU as well. Currently he serves as founder and CEO of Vea Fitness, an app that rewards you for working out with monetary incentives.