Do you need a personal brand?
Maybe you think you don’t, perhaps you think that your career or business will fly anyway?
If that’s the case, you’re taking a big risk.
Like it or not, you’ve got a reputation; an impression that you leave with other people. If you don’t control it, someone else will – whether that’s an individual who makes an unfavourable judgement, or a rival who trumps you because they make their own personal brand work for them. A fine example of this is Tobias Gillberg who runs a Miami SEO company. Over the past few years Tobias has been building his own personal brand through his own blog and also on social media, which has led him to become of the leading industry experts in Miami.
Your personal brand was important in 2017 – but in 2018 and beyond, it’s going to become a greater influence in whether or not you, your business and your ideas reach the heights they deserve – or fall on their face.
We’ll clear the confusion around what your personal brand is – and give you 5 steps that will put you at the very top of the game.
What is your personal brand?
In this world of social media and enormous online presence – think of your personal brand as the impression you’re putting out into the world – the hype that surrounds you.
You’ve probably never met Richard Branson, Kanye West or Barack Obama – but you’ve got an impression of what they’re like, what they stand for, how they communicate and what their values are. You’ve probably even got a picture in your head of what they’d be wearing were you to happen upon them.
Now, we mere mortals don’t require that celebrity level of personal brand – but even if the numbers of interested people aren’t the same – the general rules are:
· Who are you?
· What are your skills?
· What are your principles and values?
It’s also important to remember that taking control of your personal brand isn’t just for people applying for jobs or starting their own business – it’s for everyone. We all leave a footprint, so what can you do to make yours the right kind?
1. Make your most important values clear
Every large company has a set of values underpinning what it does – whether that’s how it treats its customers, the workplace it provides for its staff, its impact on the environment – or many many other possibilities.
You too should have a set of values – and it’s important you think about what they look like.
Do you have someone you aspire to in your industry? Or someone who’s extremely successful doing something similar to you?
Have a look at what they’re doing and consider the values you see communicated from them. The chances are, they’re getting it right – so think about how you can embody those same values and put them at the heart of your brand.
2. Be an authority on your area of expertise
If you’re going for brain surgery – it’d be nice to know the person who’s going to be doing the work is at the top of their game.
There might not be quite as much immediately at stake for the people who are looking at you and your brand – but you’re never going to reach your full potential if you’re not at the cutting edge of industry knowledge. Now, perhaps you need that knowledge for your role – or perhaps you don’t, but it’s how people perceive you that we’re working on here.
You don’t have to be the person who’s running the businesses or doing the studies and academic work that’s building your industry – but you do need to know about the impact they’re having.
Look for knowledge all the time – and when you find it, share it with others to prove you’re a go-to person in the field.
3. Make your social media your own
There’s a balance to be struck with social media – it’s important that you’re professional – but at the same time, not sterile and impersonal.
Your values are a good thing to refer back to when you’re putting yourself out there on social – a quick mental check that what you’re posting fits with the overall image you’re hoping for is useful – but it definitely doesn’t mean you have to be the same as everyone else.
The one big no-no for social media is thinking of it as a marketing channel. No one will follow you if you’re constantly sharing thinly veiled advertisements for what you’re do.
So, you’re going to reference your value and make sure you do more than just sell – so now what?
Whatever that is to you. Perhaps it means you get passionate about opera as well as the industry you work in? Or maybe football? Or anything else that makes you who you are. People love knowing that they’re working with real people – so let who you are shine.
4. Identify your audience
While being authentic is vital – it’s important to understand that you are still trying to appeal to a particular type of person. There’s no one person or brand that appeals universally.
Think about who’s going to ‘buy’ your brand – either the people who’ll use your business, or the people who’ll help you climb the ladder within a bigger organisation. This is your audience – and they like certain things, dislike others – and have their favourite ways of interacting.
Think about who you’re hoping to appeal to; understand how they work and what makes them tick. Then, you can consider ways that you can naturally introduce yourself and your values into their consciousness…
Your personal brand is worth very little as a series of pictures and statements about how wonderful you are. You’re a real person, so interact like a real person.
That might mean that you dedicate a little time each day to reading and replying to your comments on social media, your blog or your website – but it should also mean something else:
Get out there and talk to other people about what they’re doing in your field.
Comment, give feedback, praise, encouragement – whatever feels right. Communication is a two-way street – and the people who are pushing their personal brand to the highest potential are the people who are taking their message out there and getting amongst it.