Here’s the thing... we are living in the age of the “personal brand”. Having and maintaining a personal brand is vital if we want anyone to work with us, buy from us, follow us, join our team, etc.
The scary thing is - personal brands really can't be avoided! Even if you don't think you have a personal brand or haven't put any effort into building a personal brand… Surprise!! - If you're interacting with other humans, you have a personal brand!
It's kinda like the old Jeff Foxworty "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes. (If you don't get that reference, I'm suddenly feeling really old and really American!!)
You may or may not want a personal brand but...
- If you have a Facebook account ... you have a personal brand!
- If you have a LinkedIn profile... you have a personal brand!
- If you come up as a result of a Google search ... you have a personal brand!
- If you can be found at a networking event ... you have a personal brand!
- If you can be found socialising at community events ... you have a personal brand!
- If you're actively engaged with other human beings ... you have a personal brand!
But, Don't Panic!
Today, we’re here to help, and today we're going to walk you through personal branding 101; what it is, why it’s important, how to build it, and even some quick tips on what not to do!
Let's begin at the beginning...
What is a “Personal Brand”?
When I first heard the term "personal brand", I thought:
"No thanks, that's not for me. I'm not an attention-seeking instagram model or highly-acclaimed business mogul with decades of advice to share... I don't need a personal brand."
What I didn't realise (as we just discussed) was that I had a personal brand whether I intended to or not! When it finally clicked, I realised that my "personal brand" is essentially my reputation. People do business with my company because of me, not because of our prices or our results (well, of course, those help too!)!
The best bit of advice I received about my reputation (ie: personal brand) is:
If you want to know what your reputation/personal brand is, listen to what people say about you when you're not in the room!
There are really three possibilities, though in varying degrees:
- Do people speak highly of you when you're not there?
- Do people speak of you at all when you're not there?
- Do people speak poorly of you when you're not there?
Basically, your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
It can take years to create a positive reputation and only second to destroy it. Look at Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong, careers that were obliterated overnight.
You can have a great sales meeting, an amazing interview with a candidate, or pitch a potential investor, only for the whole relationship to fall through. This can happen for a variety of reasons so make sure it’s not because they found a drunken photo of you on Facebook!
In this digital age, we are all a Google away. With such easy access to ourselves, we need to make sure that our online brand matches our offline brand.
I’m not telling any one how to live their life, I just want to make sure we’re aware of the fact that our actions can have huge consequences for our careers and business. One of the most important aspects of your personal brand is that all the different elements of it are congruent.
So, let’s make sure the picture we’re painting of ourselves what we want to display to the world.
How to Build Your Online Personal Brand
You build your personal brand in two ways; online and offline. Your offline brand is how you behave when you speak to people and how you act in the “real world”. Your online brand is how you’re perceived online through your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile, and your personal website.
As we briefly mentioned, the most important thing is that your online and offline persona’s match each other. If you’re fun and outgoing online but when people meet you face-to-face you’re grumpy and introverted, it’ll make the other person confused. A confused mind doesn’t buy.
When building your online brand, we should keep the following in mind:
- What values about ourselves do we want to highlight?
- Who is our target market?
- Why are we right for our target market?
The best way we can demonstrate those aspects of ourselves is through producing content (like this article). Content covers everything from the videos we create, the blogs we write, and even the status updates we make.
Always have a target audience in mind for any content that you release. Without a clear strategy, we won’t see the results and we’d end up wasting our time. Before you post anything, ask yourself:
- Who is this produced for?
- Why do they care?
- What outcome am I looking for?
It may be that you want to inspire clients and potential clients to work with you by showing them how proud you are of an award you’ve just won (we just won the FSB’s Microbusiness of the Year :) ).
It may be that you’re educating your target audience on why they should work with you. It may even be to bring some enjoyment to their day. Regardless of the outcome that you’re looking for make sure that your content adds value.
Finally, inject some personality into your content! If you love travelling, or sport, or music, link that to your business. For example, if you’re in sales and want to build your personal brand, you might write an article titled, “How travelling made me better at sales” or “Why the best sales people love 80’s music”. This helps you stand out and get people engaging with you.
Before we wrap up, here are some quick tips/learnings:
· Politics and religion may be important, but talking about them will alienate some people
· If you don’t want to use your personal page on Facebook, create a “fan page”
· Don’t share anything inappropriate on your social media. Create a private group on WhatsApp to show off pictures of your kids, the food you eat, jokes
What You Need to Remember
It’s easy to be put off by the term “personal brand” because it feels like we’re not being genuine with how we present ourselves. This is the opposite of what a personal brand is. Your personal brand needs to be built on who you are, the values that are important to you, and how you help others.
The most important aspect of your personal brand is that it’s true to you. As humans we can spot someone that’s trying hard to be someone they’re not and we are immediately put off by them. With your online personal brand, make sure that you:
· Provide Value: No matter what your strategy with your personal brand is, make sure that you entertain, educate, or engage with your audience
· Be You: Show people what you love to do and what you stand for. Inject the content you create with things that you really care about
· Focus on others: Your personal brand needs to show people that building a relationship is worthwhile. Realise that people will tend to ask WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?)
Your personal brand is vital no matter if you're climbing the career ladder, running a business, or looking for a job.
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