You’re a sales and marketing machine. You’re constantly selling yourself and your ideas. You’re attaching your name to a specific area of expertise and delivering useful content – online and off – to earn more visibility and build trust with your peers.
Or you’re not.
In either case, you have a personal brand. The question is: Are you working on it to accelerate the success of your career?
If so, this post, and my new book, The Road to Recognition, is for you. In the book, co-author Seth Price and I, present 26 big ideas to help develop your personal brand. The chapters presented A-to-Z style, are also crammed with actionable advice.
I’m happy to share the ideas with you here and now.
The road to building a compelling personal brand is paved with authenticity. Understand your personal brand’s all about the real you.
Look within. Create a compass based on who you are and the qualities that set you apart. How might you leverage your strengths?
Gather insights from your peers too. How do the people who know you describe you? What makes you credible? Which attributes of your personality make you interesting?
I love how William Arruda, author, and founder of Reach Personal Branding puts it: “Be real before being virtual.” Faking it won’t fly. Wherever your branding journey takes you, or you take it, simply be yourself.
The most important personal branding development in the age of digital media is the power to publish at will and express your ideas. As such, you’re going to make your blog the centerpiece of your personal brand.
Your blog will provide a home for you to showcase your point of view. Be humble, but confident. Be generous with your insights and ideas. And if you’re new to blogging, be patient. It takes time and commitment to building an audience. Keep at it.
Create content to connect with your target audience. On your blog and all across the social media channels you’ll use, create an interesting mix of content in various formats to earn the mindshare and trust your personal brand needs to blossom.
Your personal brand needs a smart and stylish identity. Everything you create should be presented with class and continuity.
Don’t scrimp on design. Plan to invest either time, or money, or both into making your website, blog, social media profile pages, and anything you print, reflect well on your brand. Develop a tasty logo, color palette, and design standards.
Avoid getting fancy or unnecessarily creative with your profile photo. Get a headshot. Make eye contact with the camera’s lens, smile and look like someone people want to work with.
Don’t assume building an audience on social media is all you need to connect with people. You need to build a list of email subscribers as well.
Your email subscription list is all yours. Email is private and permission-based. In the business world, it’s a pervasive communication channel. You probably skip breakfast more often than you skip checking your email each morning.
The most important requests, offers, and updates you want your audience to know about are going to be delivered via email, the media you can count on. Commit to developing an email list and using it to nurture relationships.
You can’t have a brand without an audience, so one of your goals must be to grow a following on social media. You’ll contribute to, and lead conversations there.
The number of followers isn’t critical; the connection you make is. Digital media makes it possible to develop a tribe of followers that are like-minded people with common interests – people you’ll aim to educate and inspire.
Every chapter in The Road to Recognition features a contribution from a business leader or marketing expert. Your host, Jeff, joins the party in chapter F.
Think of Google as the business card the entire world has instant access to. Search your name on Google to assess how the world sees you. Do you like what you see? Does your website or blog appear? Do you find your social media profile pages?
Evaluate the results and create and execute a plan to elevate how your personal brand appears on the world’s top search engine.
If you poll experts on the most important skills for personal branding, no doubt the ideas you collect will include ambition, vision, and communication. Generosity may not make the list, but should.
Giving of yourself – helping others – is a major key to elevating your personal brand and the new media landscape delivers infinite opportunities to do it. Helping others makes you a leader, proves you are a team player and activates your network.
Making influential friends is a key accelerator to building your own influence. Make a point to connect with people you look up to: authors, bloggers, speakers, and leaders of prominent brands in your niche.
Use social media networks and influencer marketing tools to identify the leaders and up-and-comers. Seek them out and find ways to be of value to them. The influential friends you make will open doors.
Affiliations are all-important to the growth of your brand. Join communities where ideas are incubated and new relationships are established and nurtured. Get involved and make your presence known.
Keywords are, well, key, to positioning your personal brand effectively. Potential new followers on social media networks will use keywords to search for people to follow. What’s more, they’re likely to receive recommendations of people to follow based on keywords linked to their interests.
Create a short list of keywords relevant to your area of expertise and use them often on your site and across all your social media profiles.
LinkedIn has undergone a lot of changes recently, but while its features change, its focus does not. LinkedIn is for professionals. Content and updates about cats and dogs, or celebrities and gossip don’t go over well there.
So it remains the personal branding epicenter of the Internet. It’s vital to the development of your personal brand to master LinkedIn. Create a powerful profile, feature some of your most engaging content, and invest time and effort into continuously expanding your network.
Digital injected an infinity effect into the media landscape. Mastering it is no easy task, however, the acceleration of your personal brand depends on doing so. I offer a two-part strategy:
- Start with where – Figure out the media channels you need to use to deploy your content and create a following. Analyzing the footprint of your competition and industry influencers is your best starting point. The goal is to meet your audience where they spend time.
- Proceed to what – The second goal is to show up and engage your audience with media they like to consume.
Can you extract insights from your past efforts about the content that resonated with your audience? You might evaluate which pages get visited most, which assets get downloaded often, and what content invokes shares, comments, and questions. Do consumption patterns indicate preferences for certain types of communication over others?
Your personal branding journey’s bound to be a slow one if you try to go it alone. You need to network.
In The Road to Recognition, Scott Abel contributes this idea:
“Your audience is your most powerful asset. Developing a network and sense of camaraderie amongst your peers reduces competitive friction and enables you to borrow the power of the crowd to extend the reach of your brand.”
Personal branders are givers (H is for Helping). Consider the immensely powerful principle of persuasion called reciprocity, a simple slice of human psychology. When someone does something for you, you feel obliged to give back.
Offer amazing cool content – for free – to build your email list, build relationships, and gain recognition as a subject matter expert.
Want people to listen to you? Personal branding is not only about finding your voice but making it heard. So top personal branders appear on podcasts and create their own shows to capitalize on the format’s growing popularity.
Because few things are more personal than the sound of the human voice, podcasting presents a unique opportunity to connect with your audience.
Personal branding calls for asking questions of yourself and those you hope to influence. Game-changing ideas come from asking questions and social media certainly opens the door nice and wide.
Asking insightful questions earns you greater trust and respect from those you work with. It’s a first step in solving problems and makes you a more successful leader.
“When I started out in my career, the key to success was having the right answers. If the boss had a question, he expected me to have the answer – or know where to get it. It seemed like the ones who advanced in their careers the quickest were those with the most answers.
But as I began to ascend the corporate ladder, I discovered that the key to success had begun to shift. It became less and less about having the right answers and more and more about having the right questions.”
— Michael Hyatt, from his blog post, 7 Suggestion for Asking More Powerful Questions
18. Recognizing others
In his book, Launch, Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, introduces his idea, The Elevation Principle:
Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth
Privately and publicly, you should recognize the contributions of every person who’s played a part in the development of your personal brand. You’ve probably noticed, I’m using ideas from a variety of experts to deliver this lesson (as we did in the book).
Collaborating on content is a very powerful way to recognize your influencers, peers, friends, and followers.
And of course, online or off, be sure to recognize the people who have played some part in fueling the development of your personal brand. It’s a meaningful gesture that won’t go unnoticed. Be thankful. Be genuine. Find ways to show your appreciation daily.
Speaking’s an undeniably powerful platform for personal branding.
Speaking can help you achieve high visibility and build your reputation as an expert. Research by Hinge Marketing claims, “When asked which factors were most important to career development, visible experts put speaking and writing ability at the top of the list, second only to passion and enthusiasm.”
Every successful brand, personal or otherwise, must develop a clear understanding of its market. Understand, you don’t want to be everything to everybody. You have to identify a target.
Develop personas with a focus on the needs of your audience and their pain points. Conduct interviews and surveys to learn as much as possible about both the demographics and psychographics of the market you aim to serve.
What makes you special? The answer should be crafted as your unique value proposition. You may be one of the millions specializing in your field, but to make your mark, it’ll serve you well to develop and nurture a one-of-a-kind point of differentiation.
I love this quote from the legendary Dr. Seuss that speaks well to the last two points I’m trying to make: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
It’s now passé to predict the future of the web is video. Video’s not only hot; it’s powerful. You can build trust faster with video. More so than text-based communication, video helps people connect with you. You come off as more human and sincere.
If you want to build emotional connections with the members of your brand community, it’s time to add video to your mix. It can also differentiate you because many of your peers aren’t yet using video (or fear trying). Most don’t have a YouTube channel, a vlog (video blog), or video content of any kind. Make video a part of your personal branding efforts and stand out.
Your website is the mousetrap and your content is the cheese. In other words, your website is your home on the web, a platform for the content you create and the destination you guide people to build an email list, following, your business and brand.
“If you watch your website, social media and email marketing analytics, you’re going to get a little smarter, reach a little farther, and grow awareness of your brand more quickly,” writes digital marketing master Andy Crestodina in The Road to Recognition.
Many of the points I’ve made in this post dug into content marketing strategies. As you execute them, you need to track them and measure your progress. You don’t need to be a statistics pro or analytics mastermind (like Andy). You simply need to learn how you’re doing, so you can perpetually refine your efforts. Otherwise, you’re flying blind.
25. “You Do” list
The development of your personal brand is a perpetual exercise. I believe a “to do” list, or a list of things you do will be immensely meaningful in helping you achieve your goals. Your list might include actions you need to get started as well as a list of proactive actions you do daily, monthly, or any interval that makes sense.
The Road to Recognition, in its “Y” chapter, features a lot of ideas for your “You Do” list. Even if you don’t read the book, this post should help you get one together.
Zeal is a “strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes one determined to do something.” There is no more essential ingredient of a successful personal brand.
You’re not going to achieve massive recognition quickly. It takes time and perseverance. You’ll encounter obstacles. Some of your ideas may get rejected. People will turn you down. You’ll make mistakes and get distracted. Pursuing your dream is hard work.
Don’t give up. Persevere. Let your zeal drive you greater professional success.
Guest Author: Barry is the author of The Road to Recognition and SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans. Barry operates Feldman Creative and provides content marketing consulting, copywriting, and creative direction services. He contributes to top marketing sites and was named one of the 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. To get a piece of his mind, visit his blog, The Point.