“Having a Personal Brand in today’s society is the single most valuable thing you could possibly have” Nicolas Cole (Inc.com)
It’s not just about style, taglines or cute little icons, it’s a Value Proposition!
If you think branding is just a look or a logo, you need to think again. Personal branding goes far beyond that. Building a personal brand is all about emphasizing your best qualities, your value offerings, and put those at the forefront of what you do. It’s also your personal compass and the promise you make to others about the value you are capable of bringing to them.
A personal brand showcases your ideas, beliefs and aspirations, through a public presence that will validate your abilities, and present you as an authentic leader in your field who people will go out of their way to work with or hire. A personal brand tells people who you are, who you can help and how. Showcasing your personal brand, with your beliefs and values, reveals your authentic self, including your vulnerabilities, and this is a key element in creating a personal brand that reflects your true professional nature people that people will believe and therefore trust. People gravitate towards authenticity, as in all things in life, but especially when they can identify with the ideals, beliefs and aspirations.
So here are 6-steps to reveal your authentic self & start building your personal brand:
1. Identify your archetype: From a branding perspective, you need to be easily identifiable with what people know and understand about the world. An archetype is a fairly universal set of ideas and expectations that make up clearly defined categories that people generally understand intuitively. They let our brain take shortcuts and help us make meaningful assumptions as we naturally segment things into categories and label them. We do this with everything, but mostly with people. Knowing what archetype you fit into for people will also help you build your “voice”. Use the archetype to craft your communications and strategies.
2. Develop your voice: Creating a memorable personal brand is not about having a great voice. It’s about having your own voice. One that is easily identifiable as you. Your “voice” is, however, you best express yourself and share your value with others, whether it is in writing, speech, art or some other form. It needs to be professional and concise, as well as consistent (see below for more on that). You cannot be all things to all people. And if you try, you will not be respected as a leader in your field or as your best authentic self.
3. Plan for your vision: create SMART goals for where you want to be in a year or three or five. Be clear about (1)what you want to be doing; (2) how you are going to get there and (3) when you can expect to hit that target. Branding is the road map of your vision. If a project or request doesn’t fit within your branding, it will not help you move towards your vision and therefore the value of it should be reconsidered. Your personal brand cannot be based on any one “success,” if you are really in it for the long haul.
4. Demonstrate commitment. Once you work out your value proposition, then you need to make a commitment to being as great at that as you possibly can. It is not about competition, it is about realizing that whatever it is that you do, a million other people might be doing too and they are ready to take your position if you start slacking off. So commit to becoming a thought leader in your field. And keep your word, no matter what. Demonstrate your commitment to authenticity by maintaining honesty, integrity, and loyalty at all times and in all things.
5. Be consistent: Always be sure that who you associate with and what you do is in alignment with your brand, your vision and ultimately your goals. You are what makes a personal brand unique -which also means that whatever you say or do will impact how people interpret your brand or your abilities. Therefore you have to believe in it and follow through with it. All these little details end up contributing to the larger portrait of who You are in literally everything you do, from your habits, or modes of expression and communication, to your dress or methods of conducting business. Therefore you need to always be conscious of reflecting the professionalism and expertise that make-up your brand. Without consistency, nothing else matters. It is the key to validating your authenticity that contributes to building respect, rapport, loyalty with others and creates their desire to connect and work with you.
6. Have good associations. Who we associate with and spend our time with says more about us than we often acknowledge. A big part of building a personal brand is taking care about who you associate with professionally. So think of who you collaborate with, work with, or partner with in some way and realise that you are inherently giving your stamp of approval to them. If colleagues and potential clients have built rapport with you then they will accept working with, or hire those that you have “validated” through your association. People look to collaborate with others who have good networks and connections so this is important.
Once you have these important six steps figured out, find a platform that suits your interest, or target demographics and start creating the best content you can so that you begin providing value to people in a public domain. Everything else kind of stems from there. Build as many relationships as you can with other leaders in your field. If you collaborate and create content together, then you can both expand your social media “fan” base. This is a super win-win strategy that helps you both extend your brand exposure and networks/connections.
In this way, you attract attention, gain trust, and earn engagement. Your content shouldn’t be a constant sales pitch because people don’t respond to that. Instead, you should include “tangential content” which is content that is directly related to your field but not your own product or service. There should be, however, a clear connection between the content and your personal brand. Do not be concerned with the number of followers/subscribers or “Likes” as these are very poor metrics for building a meaningful personal brand. Since promoting your personal brand means providing value in a particular niche field, it is better to be encouraged by engagement. This is what really demonstrates how people are associating you with a successful leader in your field.
Once you have a significant “fan” base on your chosen social media platform(s) that attracts attention, then offer more long-term value to the world through a website. Craft and offer unique products or services that convey your knowledge through online or offline books and e-courses, for example, that help convert fans into colleagues or clients while adding to your credibility. This opens the way to working and connecting with other thought leaders in your industry, (as in step 6-the people you want to be associated with) and tangential industries so that you can continue growing your social media followings, collaborating, and engaging with other influencers and their connections.