RESPECT. INFLUENCE. SUCCESS. We all want it and are working relentlessly to achieve it but what does it take to breakthrough? Attention is the hottest commodity in business and as an entrepreneur its our job to claim it. Ironically in todays over-connected world the thing that people want most is genuine connection. Personal branding is what enables people to become more connected with your brand name, build a relationship based on shared values and get behind the purpose of your business.
PERSONAL BRANDING, BY DEFINITION, IS THE PROCESS BY WHICH WE MARKET OURSELVES TO OTHERS.
Who are you? Who do you want to become? What do you love? Who do you surround yourself with? What do you talk about? What comes to people’s mind when they think of you? These are all factors that play a part in your brand image. Figuring out the answers to all these questions is a challenge in and of itself but this is only the beginning!
There is no quick and easy recipe for success when it comes to personal branding but I am going to provide you with some actionable steps to get the process rolling!
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
Build a consistent look online
- Choose a picture of yourself to utilize across all media channels to increase brand awareness. This includes channels such as social media accounts, your website, your avatar, and blog.
- Pick a color palette and stick to it. Don’t try to diversify here, consistency is key.
- Choose an easy to read and visually appealing font.
- Always be aware of how you are portraying yourself in pictures you post and comments you make.
- Social media of course is a must but you can’t do it all. In the beginning choose two (at the max three) social media channels that you want to focus on and make time to update regularly.
- Set up an account such as Hootsuite that allows you to schedule posts in advance. Make time on your calendar to schedule your posts once a week. In addition to that you still want to stay engaged with trending topics and comment on others posts and content.
- Invest in professional photos
- Have a quality website
- Produce quality content
* When trying to decide if you should hire someone or do it yourself utilize the basic economic principle of opportunity cost. Determine how much your time is worth and estimate how long it will take you to learn how to do something and complete it yourself. If this amount is less than the cost of hiring someone it may be better to do it yourself. You also have to factor in the difference in quality between your finished product versus a professionals.
- Keep track of how often people are talking about you on the web and what they’re saying by setting up a free Google Alerts account. Set up alerts for specific keywords such as your name or your companies name and receive email notifications when it is mentioned online. It’s like your own PR firm without charge! Google alerts is also a great way to stay informed about your competition.
THE NOT SO TECHNICAL STUFF
Know your audience- Remember you are writing for a purpose and to a specific audience. Spend time figuring out what matters to your audience, what inspires them, and what they consider valuable enough to be worthy of their time.
Determine your X-factor- What sets you apart? What value can you provide to your audience? Get clear on this and be able to communicate it well.
Find your voice- I don’t know why, but this always seems to be the most difficult. It definitely has been a challenge for me but I can say it gets easier the more you work on it. Here are some things that have helped me:
- Don’t get stuck up on sounding a certain way when you write. Don’t focus on trying to sound super intelligent or formal, just write the way you would if you were talking.
- Free write- Free writing is the process of writing for a set period of time without really thinking. The point is to just put pen to paper and write the first thing that comes to you. Honestly it doesn’t even have to make sense and it can even be “I don’t understand the point of this”. If you stick with it you will lose your inhibitions and ideas, thoughts and sometimes pure bursts of brilliance will flood the paper. Free writing can be very beneficial. It can help you become more comfortable with the writing process, it will allow you to move past any negative thoughts telling yourself that “you can’t write”, and it can also help you come up with ideas to write about.
- Tell stories- your own personal stories are a great way to be unique because they are yours and only yours. No one else has had the same experiences you have. Transparency is what allows your viewers to connect with the real you!
And of course, CREATE CONTENT- Content, whether it be videos, images, podcasts, or articles, is the fuel to building your personal brand. It’s how people find you, share you, follow you, and help brand you.
WORDS OF ADVICE:
Stay congruent with your true nature. If you try to take on a fake persona because you think it will be a good brand image you will most likely crash and burn! Here’s why:
- Putting on a front takes work! Energy is a limited resource and in order to be successful in life it needs to be used effectively. If you are constantly trying to represent an image that doesn’t come naturally you will have less energy to invest in meaningful work.
- Underneath the facade you will feel like a fraud. After enough time this will begin to chip away at you enough that you will most likely start sabotaging your success either consciously or unconsciously.
- People aren’t stupid. Whether they can put there finger on it or not, people can generally tell when someone isn’t being genuine. The substance just isn’t there and inconsistencies tend to seep through. Without congruency it is impossible to make a true connection with your audience which is the essence of branding.
Don’t try to please everyone. This can even be taken a step further and say that if there isn’t anyone who doesn’t like you you’re not doing a very good job of branding. I’m not advocating that you purposely go out and piss people off (although this has proven to be a very successful tactic for some), I’m just saying don’t apologize for who you are. Just because some people may not agree with you or they might get offended you shouldn’t hide your opinions Stand by your views values and beliefs because this is the substance of what makes you YOU.
One of my clients recently wrote a fitness blog article that said something along the lines of “develop a perfect ass”. A customer of his wrote back to the email stating that he didn’t want to do business with someone that was unprofessional and used the word “ass” in business. When my client shared this with me my response was “That’s awesome, congratulations!”. While this may seem counter intuitive, the fact is that the article included excellent content, it appealed to the target clientele and was written in his unique voice. I saw it as a representation that he was beginning to build a brand and develop a following because his ideal clients LOVED the article. As for the one client who didn’t appreciate it – WHO CARES!
PERSONAL BRANDING EXERCISE!
Find an example of the whole process in action from your own personal experience.
1. Think of a personal brand that you admire…even better, think of a brand you admire that you have purchased something of high value.
2. Look back and connect the dots from how you were introduced to this persons brand to when you made the purchase. What interactions took place? What made you decide to buy?
I always learn best when I can analyze a concept in real life so this really helps me conceptualize the process. My personal example is with Marie Forleo and the purchase of her online course, B-School.
- I first became aware of her brand when I was listening to Amy Porterfield’s podcast where Marie Forleo was interviewed.
- Marie’s personality resonated with me and I found her knowledge to be extremely valuable so I watched one of her YouTube videos.
- Loved it so I watched another and then another!
- Signed up for her email list. From there Marie Forleo remained in contact with me weekly by sending her Tuesday Marie TV episodes.
- Heard her interview on Tony Robbins Internet Mastery Program.
- Received B-School launch marketing campaign (an email series containing videos that was sent to her leads with the purpose of spreading the news about B-school)
- I loved the content she provided so I actually set an alarm on my phone to enroll in her course the day enrollment opened (you know you did a good job marketing when someone sets an alarm to happily hand over $2,000!).
- I am now a raving fan and frequently share my positive experience with others. Two of my friends are now going to enroll when B-School opens up again.
As you can see the process isn’t quick and easy but it does pay off if executed well. Marie Forleo’s business generated $2,000 from me and an additional $4,000 from my referrals because she was able to build a relationship with me. This was possible because we share similar views and beliefs, she kept me engaged through valuable content and consistent communication, and she instilled a positive emotional connection with her brand.
Try this exercise out yourself and share it in the comments below!
Stay tuned for my personal branding toolkit.