How do I start building my Personal Brand?
Taking control of your Personal Brand.
I get this question a lot; “How do I start building a Personal Brand?” The answer is pretty simple… you already have.
The question should probably be more like; “How do I take control of my Personal Brand?”
The reason for this is you already have a personal brand, but the reason you are probably reading this is because you need to use it, to build it, and take control of it.
This isn’t just an article you should read though. You will also have to answer some questions! Because there is no time like the present.
So let’s begin…
Understanding your existing Personal Brand.
Your Personal Brand is your domineer, your look, your style. It’s your reputation, the way you hold yourself, and the way you talk.
Everything about you feeds into your Personal Brand. And, as much as it is what you do yourself, it’s also about people’s perceptions of you.
It is for that reason you need a focus. Something to help demonstrate your purpose, and skills. It is also important to consider the view that you wish your customers, potential customers and peers to have of you.
Let’s explore this is more detail.
What’s your Personal Branding Story?
In order to take control over your Personal Brand, you have know your narrative. So, as a quick task you need to answer the following three questions to help you to know the purpose of your brand, what it represents, and what you want people to know you for.
How do you want people to see you?
When people meet you, what impression should they be leaving with? This is of vital importance, because first, second, third and ongoing impressions count. You need to think about the lasting impression you are going to leave them.
So for this question, write down 3-5 things you want people to see you as. Focus on that in all of the marketing you create, and the meetings that you have with people.
Some examples include;
Trustworthy, Knowledgeable, Intelligent, Diligent and Empathetic
What do you want people to say about what you do, when you are not in the room?
Next, you need to think about how the people who meet you will describe you and what you do to others. What is it that you say/do that you want people to remember?
This must go beyond the impression, and dive deeper into what you actually do and stand for.
To answer this question, write down 3 key ideas, or specific words you want people to remember.
Some examples that I use, and want people I meet to remember include;
- Personal Branding
- Earned & Owned Marketing
Focus your Personal Brand with a common thread
To build your Personal Brand, you need to have a “thing”, something specific and tangible that people will recognise you for. Being blunt, saying you do “marketing”, even “digital marketing” just won’t cut it. It’s too broad, and doesn’t say what your expertise is. No one is an expert in the whole of digital marketing. Yes, you may be able to perform a whole range of marketing activities, but there is always something that is of particular interest, or that you have more experience and skill in. Focus on that.
Should I have a niche or not?
Niching is a somewhat controversial topic. Not controversial in the sense that it’s potentially incendiary, but in the sense that advice given can be either incredibly good for the person, or hugely detrimental.
Ultimately, if you have a very specific area of expertise, say messenger marketing, you can do exceptionally well. That is because there is a clear area of expertise and specific knowledge. However, it is potentially harder to build a business because of the smaller audience size.
The key thing with niching is understanding the market/audience size, their propensity (willingness) to buy, and the amount of competition.
What is the common messaging?
What is your shared messaging? How are all your services and offerings linked together? In order to build a Personal Brand, and effectively market your services, you have to understand the purpose of your business.
Into this blog, I have embedded a talk I gave which where I describe the common thread in detail. Take a listen.
The short version of it, is that you need to have something simple to focus your marketing around. It could be “Veganism” or “Sustainability”. This common thread must run through everything you say and do. It helps to give your content a purpose.
That’s how you build a credible, focused Personal Brand.
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What type of content should I be producing?
Once you have worked out your purpose, and how you want your Personal Brand to represent you, it is now time to look at how to share your ideas, views and messaging.
In this part, you need to answer the following questions. Again with around 3 possible answers per question.
What do you enjoy? – If you don’t enjoy creating the content, you won’t create it consistently.
Where can you show your best self and best work? – Think about where can you effectively share your knowledge and ideas.
What can you do consistently? – Think about how often you can realistically create your content in the desired form. Daily? Weekly?
What can you repurpose? Don’t just think about what you can create once. Consider how you can turn one bit of content into multiple.
What can you do effectively for the cost? – Some content costs more than others. Consider your budget restraints, both in time and money.
What are the resources you have? – Is it just you creating content, or do you have other people than can help? Look at the resources you already own such as your website, or the Adobe Suite.
Which channels should I post in? What mediums should I use to share my content?
There are an incredible number of channels available to you. Some are better than others, and some are best for some specific content types. Instagram for imagery, or Medium for articles.
There are two key factors that help narrow your channel selection decision. Firstly, the content. Secondly, your audience.
If your content is visual, choose a visual platform, primarily, then also use ones which do video well. An example of this would be YouTube, but also using the video content for LinkedIn and Facebook.
If your audience is on LinkedIn, then it’s a no-brainer. As long as you can produce consistently. If your audience listens to podcasts, then – if you enjoy it, or want to try it – podcasting may be right for you.
However, the channels you use – like the content you choose to create – must also be ones you enjoy. Because, like with content, you need to enjoy the channel to become consistent with using it.
It is also important to not only consider social media channels, but also how else you are going to share your messaging. Do you have your own website? Can you guest post on other people’s websites? Do you have a YouTube channel? Can you offer yourself as a podcast guest?
Your task: To make a list of the different ways you can share your message, both through owned and earned marketing.
Work with Allies & Collaborators to grow your Personal Brand
You are not alone. One of the biggest failings that I see by individuals building their Personal Brand is thinking you have to go it alone. You do not. In fact, you need to do the complete opposite. You must work with collaborators and allies. Build your Personal Brand of the back of their audience, and vice versa.
Think of it in this context, your brand currently has the reach of your existing audience size. In order to grow that, you have to keep trying to push that field wider. Which isn’t easy. Instead of doing all by yourself, work with allies and grow your audience out of theirs. This gives you the potential of reaching an audience that may, or may not already know you.
The other really positive aspect of this is that when you work with someone, your credibility grows (as long as they have credibility themselves). Because when you work with anyone, they are also putting their own authority on the line.
Recommendations and alliances work both ways, you have to know each other will do a good job, and you have to trust that the ideas, values and knowledge each other will share will align with your own.
So ask yourself these questions (and write your answers down);
Who are your current allies and collaborators?
Who are your potential allies and collaborators?
Who can you mutually grow with? (as in grow each other’s audience)
Consider who can help your credibility, and vice versa. By working with this person, will you improve the quality and volume of earned marketing you are achieving?
Your allies are not to be underestimated!! Work together to grow.
Goals must be set to ensure Personal Brand Growth
You’ve decided on your messaging, your mediums, your content types, your allies and how you want to be seen. Now, you MUST set some appropriate goals and outcomes.
What do you want to achieve?
Where are you headed?
What are the tangible outcomes?
Without setting a goal to achieve, will have no measure of whether Personal Brand is actually growing or not. Because growth is the constant improvement of the measurable outcomes.
Some of these outcomes could be;
Backlinks – How many?
Audience growth – By what % and by what means?
Email list growth – By what %?
Number of speaking opportunities – How many?
Inbound leads – How many? Split by lead quality.
Ultimately the goals you set are yours, and unique to what you want to achieve from your Personal Brand. Remember to be specific. However, the failure the set them is a failure to understand what is working, what isn’t and how you can continue to build your Personal Brand.
Be consistent, offer value, and engage. Building your Personal Brand is not a one-off project, it’s an ongoing one.
I sincerely hope that this is of value. Because it’s the process I have built, adapted and honed over time.
Every single person is different, both as individuals and the fields in which they operate. So use this as a guide, then if you have any questions, ask me. I can help you refine your common thread, your messaging and your goals.
Building a Personal Brand isn’t easy, but it is entirely possible. And remember, you cannot do it alone!