Traditional marketing words have changed dramatically in the age of the internet, but not the concepts. The trendy term, “personal brand,” has largely replaced the word, “reputation.” It pertains to the importance and focus of individuals within organizations seeking to achieve a competitive edge by building relationships with customers and prospects via social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in order to achieve critical business objectives.

Your business identity needs to provide a unique value that separates you from your competitors. How strong is your reputation? Do people know your name and what your business offers? If you’d like to eliminate the phrase, “We’re the best kept secret,” from your marketing vocabulary, which means making your personal brand stronger, consider the following eight points:

1. Your personal brand is an investment. Think of Benjamin Franklin. His reputation extended way beyond his lifespan — and so can yours. A strong reputation persists with each new project you begin and every new client you work with. If you plan to be in business for a long time, people will follow your brand for a long time if they feel connected with it. A strong personal brand guarantees you’ll never have to “start from scratch” someday.

2. What do other people think about you? Speak with several different people to understand how they perceive you and use this information as you build your reputation. What impression do you make on neighbors, friends and business associates?

3. Give thought to your public image. Your reputation is shaped by how you appear to the public, and you have control over this. You decide how people see you. How would you like customers to think of you? You need to create the perception that you are very good at what you do. And, how are you different? Do you have a unique style? Witty? Enthusiastic? Crusading? Whatever your personality and assets, let them shine.

4. Get your message out there. Running a blog is an effective way to increase your exposure to your desired publics. About 250 to 300 words a week is sufficient if the content is interesting. Use it to paint a picture about your personal brand. Use your personal story as a way to convey your expertise. Don’t neglect networking. People need to see your face often.

5. Don’t get boring. Continue to add new elements to your brand. Keep your content fresh. Develop new ideas and present them in your personal style to maintain your audience’s interest and keep them coming back to you as their thought leader. Don’t just echo the ideas of other experts, or you risk building their reputation instead of your own.

6. Keep consistency throughout your communications vehicles. Showcase your personal brand on business cards, websites, LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, wardrobe and email. Being consistent adds strength to your efforts to be remembered.

7. Continually increase your knowledge. Always be learning and growing. The web changes dramatically every month. Stay up to date, because if you depend on the expertise you had two years ago, you run the risk of becoming known as obsolete.

8. It’s how you make them feel. Try to build strong relationships with as many people as possible. Remember their names and details about their lives. To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Help people. Make them feel important.  Don’t pester them, and don’t ask for more than you give.