Developing a personal brand is similar to product branding. The overall goal with branding is to differentiate yourself (the product) in the market so you can attain your objectives. The process includes defining your brand and brand attributes, positioning your brand in a different way than your competitors and then managing all aspects of your personal brand.
The biggest issue I see when it comes to personal branding is a lack of adequate research and strategizing. There’s an old saying, “Ready, aim, fire,” but when it comes to personal branding, I see many working backwards with “Fire, ready, aim.”
People tend to get so excited that they forget to do their homework before taking action. To avoid mis-steps, take the time to work through these six steps first.
Steps to Start & Grow Your Personal Brand—In Today’s World
Focus on what you do. It’s important to be clear on what the core of your personal brand is. Are you a speaker? A consultant? An author? Is your focus technology? Marketing? Back pain? Healthy eating? Leadership?
Build a tribe. As you seek to build your personal brand, don’t focus on generating sales. First, focus on building your community, or building your tribe. I’m not saying you should NOT generate sales. However, building your tribe should be about building a community of followers who know, like and trust you. To build this tribe, encourage people to join your email list, like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and otherwise connect with you to continue the conversation.
Showcase your personal brand with social media. It is essential that you showcase your personal brand. Showcase your thought leadership, showcase your speaking engagements. You need to FEED your community. The best way to do this is through the power of social media. Several times a day on Twitter, several times a week on Facebook, and wherever your customers reside on social media, you need to be actively engaged with your tribe.
Video brings your brand to life. Video is a powerful way to bring life to your personal brand. Remember, most of your tribe cannot get up close and personal with you. However, through the power of engaging videos you can get closer to and more personal with your community.
Speak at events and organize your event. Events are a very powerful way to connect with your community in real life. Sure, we can see our favorite celebrities through live streaming and other multimedia options. Having a live event for your community is no different. Speaking at other people’s events is a great way to showcase your thought leadership, too. Organizing your own event is a powerful way to put your brand on a pedestal.
Publish a book. Being an author is a way to add credibility and strengthen your personal brand. Think about it: You have to pick expert A or expert B. Both are about the same except one has a book. The one with the book will most always be picked, as they appear smarter, more credible, and more prestigious. A book is an important way to solidify your personal brand.
Get media coverage. When the local TV affiliate, radio station, magazine or other media ask you to speak as an expert, it gives you credibility and amplifies your brand. This requires active outreach to get their attention, but it is well worth the time and effort.
Step 1: Define your overall aspirations. Be specific and clearly define your goals and objectives. Is it to become known as the best project manager in a certain industry? Obtain the job of Creative Director at a large advertising agency? Become VP of Marketing?
Step 2: Conduct research. How are those who have made it to where you want to be conducting their personal branding efforts? What can you learn from what others are doing, be their efforts good or bad? Who are your biggest competitors and what are they doing to brand themselves?
Step 3: Determine your brand attributes. What do you want your personal brand to convey? What adjectives do you want people to associate with you (as the product) and why? In what niche of the market do you want to become known?
Step 4: Assess your current state. How do people currently perceive you? How large is the gap between the current you and the person you want others to perceive you to be? What needs to change and why?
Step 5: Create your game plan. Your game plan should include more than just branding yourself in social media – it needs to include all aspects of you, as a product. Defining your plan needs to include the tangible and intangible characteristics of personal branding including attire, hair, makeup, behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication.
Step 6: Manage your brand. Your game plan also needs to include the specific social media aspects you’ll use to convey your new personal brand (LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, blogs, etc.) & how you will use each of those aspects to build your brand.