I joined the recruitment industry almost 20 years ago, at that time I was an unknown and the company I joined was a start-up. I learned quickly (sometimes the hard way) the importance of a strong personal brand and I've also met some great people along the way.
I often get asked now what the do's and don'ts of Building a Personal Brand are and why it matters so here are some of my learnings.
The Power of your Personal Brand in Business
One of the most important things I've learnt, whether chatting at an event or posting online, is to be authentic and to give as much, or more, than you get.
My specialisations revolve around talent solutions, diversity and inclusion and leading the way in the future of work. I am also passionate about giving back and charitable causes.
Whenever I'm posting online or choosing an event to go to, I keep these topics in mind. By choosing a small selection of topics people will begin to associate you with these and your brand in those areas will strengthen.
To quote Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder & CEO, your personal brand is 'what people say about you when you leave the room.' Brands are born of experience and reflect reputation, and it's no different when it comes to your own personal brand.
Here are some powerful ways of building a personal brand can help you professionally:
- Position yourself as a thought leader: being known as an expert in a particular area shows your a thought leader and helps to build trust with potential new clients or customers.
- Get found by media: by building your brand online and offline you'll make it easier for journalists and publishers (podcasts, newspapers, websites) to find you and feature you, all the while further building your personal brand.
- Connect with a broader network: if you make it easy for people to understand who you are and what you do it makes it easier for a broader network to connect with you. You'll also attract more of the right people, rather a large volume of people.
- Increase your value: Having a strong personal brand distinguishes you from competitors and can justify charging higher prices.
5 Ways to Build your own Personal Brand
Building a personal brand doesn't happen in a day and will involve some failures, but if you follow these 5 steps you should see results
1. Figure our what you want your brand to stand for
There is a misconception that building a personal brand means crafting a persona. Branding isn't about positioning yourself as something that you are not. The key principle here is authenticity.
To start building your brand ask yourself:
- What skills do you have? What training, credentials, certifications, or awards have you received?
- What industries and topics are you interested in? What are you passionate about?
- What are your core values? What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What do you stand against?
Once you're clear on this, the next step is to start piecing together the 3 core elements of your personal brand. These will help guide your decisions as you build your personal brand:
- What do you want to be known for? If you became known as the world's go-to expert on XYZ topic, what would that be?
- Why do you want to build a personal brand? What is your purpose? Who do you want to influence? How will you measure your success?
- What are some of your personal characteristics and traits that you can weave into your brand? Do you want to be perceived as very polished and professional, or perhaps more humorous and informal?
2. Define who you want to engage with
The next step is figuring out who your target audience is. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as you build a personal brand is trying to appeal to everyone. It just won't work.
Not everyone that is exposed to you or sees your message will like you or agree with you, and that is perfectly fine. Here are some questions to help you figure out who exactly your target audience is:
- Who are they - what generation are they from? Are they mainly men or women, or a mix of both? What is their profession?
- What is their main challenge? This is vital. A brand should always add value so if you can solve their problems, you'll soon gain loyal followers.
- What are their dreams, goals, and aspirations? What are they interested in?
3. Create your value proposition
If you want to have a profitable personal brand, you need to have something to give. This could be a product or a service, but it should solve a specific problem or achieve a specific result.
A lot of people make the mistake of creating a product or service that they want, only to discover that no one else wants it or is willing to pay for it.
This is why identifying your perfect client before you create a product or service is so important. When you know exactly who you want to help, you can create an offer that is the perfect solution for them.
4. Share and create content
Creating and sharing content builds your brand and is a great way to build trust, show your personality and give solutions to your client's problems. All the while positioning you as an expert and an authority in your industry. LinkedIn and Twitter are the main channels I use, and they work really well for anyone in business.
Having a plan that you stick to is crucial here, without a plan you'll forget to post and just like that an important element of your brand is gone. I generally try to share something relevant on LinkedIn once a week, or when I have something worthwhile to share.
I'll also comment on other things that I'm genuinely interested in. Comments are a quick way to expand your network and get your expertise out there.
Above all focus on quality and consistency - the last thing you want to do is annoy people with unhelpful or poor-quality content.
5. Have a visibility strategy
Sharing your own content is great, but a faster way to build your audience is to leverage other people's audiences. Here are some ways to increase your visibility and build your credibility
- Interviews & PR: if you're asked to contribute to an interview or podcast say yes - even if you're terrified! To quote one of my favourite business women Arianna Huffington 'you have to do what you dream of doing even while you're afraid.' If you're just starting out don't be afraid to contact media outlets to let them know you're an expert in x,y,z but have something to back yourself up.
- Guest blogging: if your business has a website write articles for the blog.
- Public speaking: apply to speak at live events, meet up groups and conferences that you know your core audience will be at.
- Partnerships & joint ventures: build relationships with other people and companies. This can lead to guest blogging, interviews, collaborations and referrals.
Overall, when building your own personal brand don't try to please everyone. Be authentic in your approach and try to have some fun with it, people will respond best when you show your personality along with adding real value.
One of my main inspirations when it comes to personal branding is Richard Branson, who has passion, authenticity, personality and humour in his communications.
A quote from him that has stuck with me and that is helpful to remember is'� 'branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.'