When it comes to “personal branding”, the very thought of marketing yourself can seem daunting at times. I mean, it’s one thing for celebrities to develop their own over-the-top persona (e.g. Jay-Z’s “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” approach for example). But what about the rest of us “normal people”? Do we really need to develop a personal brand? I mean, after all, aren’t we just…well, people? The reality is that the value of personal branding is ever-increasing these days and it won’t slow down anytime soon. Personal branding is essential for the modern-day career. Furthermore, in an increasingly flat world, your personal brand identity is essential for establishing any sort of credibility.
I write, therefore I am…(or am I?)
The modern surge in digital content has made it possible for anyone to insert themselves into the world. This surge only further highlights the value of personal branding. Literally anyone can become a writer, commentator, teacher or expert with the rise of e-books, blogs, and social media. That being said, the value of personal branding equates to your reputation today. In the words of Jeff Bezos, “your brand is what people say when you are not in the room.”
Reap the value of personal branding by defining yourself
- Consider how you want others to perceive you. How about the impact you want to leave on your audience? Write down the words, feelings, personality traits you want others to associate with you. What sort of character do you carry?
- Compare & Contrast. Take some time and dig into the voice of your favorite columnists, authors, and bloggers. What makes their voice so intriguing to you? How would you describe their personality and style of communication? What sort of impression do they have on their audience?
- Summarize these reflections with your own list of desired associations. Circle the common themes and you’ll have identified where you should focus your energies.
Set expectations & meet them to see the value of personal branding
In the age where content is king, it has never been easier to share your voice with the world. On the flip side, it has never been harder to be heard. Think about it…there’s a ton of white noise out there that you need to filter through. Access is without question one of the most powerful social currencies these days. Once you have someone’s attention, you must seize the opportunity to make an impression before they lose their focus.
In order to establish your personal brand, you need to focus on making your unique experience or perspective stand out. What’s your unique selling point? What can people expect from interacting with you? It doesn’t matter if we’re talking intellectual commentary, industry expertise, creative inspiration, or a daily dose of humor. Think about what you offer that will add value to people’s lives.
This “give” is called a brand promise. It’s important that you remember that there are no take-backs when it comes to brand promises. Through setting expectations that others can hold you accountable for, you’ll likely grow your reach through audience referrals. Through successfully building trust with your following, people will feel more comfortable referring you to their peers. Every time you go to click “post”, think about the possibility that someone just sent your link to their boss…don’t let them down!
You do you – the real value of personal branding
It’s important to meet the expectations of others. However, the truth is that you’ll never win over everyone. That being said, abandon the notion of being a catch-all. Instead, focus your energy on aligning yourself with your core values and what you know.
Authenticity is essential to earning the loyalty and respect of your audience. A steadfast group of regulars is far more powerful than a temporary group of visitors passing through. Don’t get bogged down trying to be everything to everyone. Remember that people connect with people, not encyclopedias.
Think of personal branding as an extension of yourself and what matters most to you. This is the differentiator. Stephen King once said about his writing: “(it) isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”