These days – thanks to social media – almost everyone has a personal brand. It’s also reflected in your website, your work environment, the way you work with others, intimate groups, close ties…. It’s basically how people and society interpret you as a person and professional. And any curated representation of yourself contributes to your personal brand image.
You’re already curating. So how can you leverage your personal brand?
1. Pick Your Platforms.
We’re living in an era where most entrepreneurs have multiple businesses. An era where the strength of your connections to help you start these businesses depends on you. Now that doesn’t mean you have to become a world class speaker. You don’t even have to write a book or go on TV.
Invest time in the communities and platforms that matter to you most. These can be charities you’re involved in, Facebook groups you’re passionate about, a community association near your home, et al. Jen Gotch of Ban.do is a great example. Whenever she experienced depression or other mental health issues, she’d take to social to write about it. Her struggle is real and gives her peer-to-peer recognition. She has become a huge contemporary pioneer of mental health through her personal brand. She used a lot of energy on platforms like Instagram to build her brand, and now she has her own podcast on Girlboss.
2. Safeguard Your Credibility By Being Genuine.
Now don’t promote your personal brand all day long, if there’s not much of substance happening with your company. If you’re going to be so expository, back it up. Be real.
Business opportunities come from the peer-to-peer level. Consumers are smart too – and a lot of platforms with tons of information are widely available to them. So no matter who your audience is, stick to the truth.
There’s an emotional relationship between you and your audience. You can wow someone with your brand but if you don’t deliver on the goods, your brand drops. Now you’re no longer as good as your own personal advertising. You have to deliver on that. A lot of people say they can do a lot of things. But when the time comes down to it, can they actually do it?
In the same vein, don’t downplay your talents if you’re on the vanguard of your industry. Just be 100% honest about your accomplishments and whatever it is you can make happen.
3. Do What’s Right For You.
Do things that push you. But don’t do anything that doesn’t allow you to be truly you. For example, let’s say someone says you should try public speaking. Will you truly be yourself in public speaking environments and on stage? Will it represent you in the best way? We’re all different and what works for one person isn’t necessarily for you. Write the rules and craft your brand according to who you are.
4. Be Open to Making New Friends.
It’s funny how a lot of your close friends tend to keep up with your business content. In a similar fashion, you’ll find that it’s the relationships you cultivate as you build your personal brand that really help to grow your business. So be open and prepared to make new friends.
Of course it’s usually not something that’s just going to happen overnight. It takes time to build professional relationships. Just be sure to be authentic and do a top job.
In fact, start getting comfortable with an important concept called social capital. It’s the value of you and your business’ networks and communities that allow you to accomplish what you otherwise wouldn’t have achieved. It really puts things into perspective!
Your personal brand is cultivated in intimate environments, giant conferences and social media alike. So whether you build your brand and then launch your business or do things the other way around, focus on two themes. The first is authenticity and the second is realizing it involves more than what you show your audiences. It crosses over into how they perceive you, your brand and the actual projects you execute.
And remember, a lot of the biggest deals happen in intimate environments. If you only seem fantastic on the surface, you’re probably not going to get the best contracts. Build a brand that shows how capable you are – and make sure you’re not just good on stage!
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