In order to win at the marketing game, the ‘value-centric’ nature of today’s society means that pitching a business is out and pitching an individual is in.
A business is almost always one-dimensional, it does what it says on the tin – but a person with feelings, thoughts and opinions…well they have lot to offer. Moving from ‘individual’ to ‘influencer’ is rarely a neatly trodden path and there are many avenues to explore in order to get your name (and naturally) your business in front of people.
If you don’t work in the marketing or PR world, it’s not the frivolous activity that you probably imagine it to be. It’s hours of research, followed by carefully worded emails, agonising over subject fields to ensure that they are eye catching. Then chasing; lots and lots of chasing.
Of course, branding, marketing and PR are all imperative to reputation and customer relationships. When done correctly, you are able to convey your opinions and thoughts, capturing the attention of your audience and keeping your name at the forefront of their minds. But just how do you win at building a strong and authorative personal brand?
Speaking regularly at events is a great way to build your brand. Not only is public speaking an effective exercise to improve communication skills, it means you will stand out in the crowd next to colleagues and competitors.
Events at which there is an opportunity to speak should be embraced, these can be conferences, networking events and trade shows and exhibitions. Be prepared to start small, not all of them will be of the highest quality, attracting large crowds; but the more you speak, the more you will build an engaged audience and will be invited to speak at larger, more distinguished events.
Each time you speak, ensure you do it with confidence, knowledge and authority – you will always face individuals who criticise or disagree with your point. These challenges are all part of the task, answer each question calmly and honestly; make a point of thanking the audience for sharing their views and leverage the response to make your future speaking engagements even better.
Richard LeCount from USB Makers gives some advice to take talks further, “First impressions are everything when it comes to branding of any kind – including personal. If you don’t take the time to market yourself carefully and thoughtfully you’re already setting yourself up for a fail. From how your brand looks, how you talk to clients, your portfolio, and beyond – your brand is what makes your business stand out from the crowd. Many of our customers use our products instead of business cards – as well as being branded they can contain far more information as well as being useful to the user. It’s certainly more memorable than a generic business card.”
Use your talks to ignite passion and creativity, as Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Let’s not beat around the bush -the internet is full of salesly rubbish. Speaking and writing from a personal point of view about issues that you have strong opinions on and can offer valuable advice about will be communicated as much more authentic, trustworthy and valuable.
Think of the articles that you write as a chance to share your knowledge – not sell your business. As with speaking events, embrace all opportunities to submit articles. Sharing articles on social media and encouraging your friends, peers and connections to do the same means that it will reach a much larger audience.
Getting published on the ‘gold dust’ places (Huff Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur) can be really hard work; it’s not all in the article, but in the way you outreach too. Focus on building connections as well as writing great pieces – both methods will pay off in the long term. Monitoring Tweetdeck for the #journorequest hashtag will enable you to keep an eye out for any journalists looking for comments for features they are writing. These requests are likely to be for featured in the gold dust placements, giving a boost to your personal brand’s authority.
Your brand presence is so important; you need to maintain strict control over how you are being perceived online. It is an entity that needs to be consistently monitored and improved upon.
Undoubtedly, you have social media profiles. It’s imperative that they maintain a perfect combination of professionalism and personality in order for people to relate to you as well as respect you. Your social media profile should also include contact information; most commonly in the form of an email address, especially if your direct messaging option hasn’t been made public. Using the same (high quality) profile picture across all of the platform builds brand consistency.
It’s very important that you engage and respond to your followers on social media – where it’s relevant…..and authentic. There is NOTHING more annoying than those awful automated messages that find their way into your inbox, along the lines of –
“Thanks for the follow, check out our blog and here’s a free Ebook.”
I’m alright thanks.
Replying to a tweet, sending a personalised email or direct message –fine. But stop the automated messages and bland, ‘thanks for the follow’ tweets.
Having a personal website is a great tool for building your personal brand as it gives you far more control over your online presence. Treat it in the same way as you would if it were your businesses website. Having your own domain name goes a long way to your brand authority too.
Blogger and Content Manager Lizzie Benton explains why she bought her own domain name- Lizaboo, “Before I bought my own domain name, I was under the Blogspot domain. I wanted my blog to look more professional; Blogspot looks amateur, like you are not taking it seriously. My own website is a WordPress and MUCH easier to use, I also wanted all of the traffic to go to my blog and not others on the referring domain!”
It may seem a little narcissistic, but it’s worth Googling your name every once in a while to see where and how you appear online and what people are saying about you. In order to build a great personal brand, you will need to exhibit a great deal of effort to monitor and expand it.
In this day and age, almost every industry is innovating, developing and advancing at an incredible rate – probably faster than ever before. It’s critical you remain up to date with the advances and trends; being considered ‘outdated’ is personal brand suicide.
Make a conscious effort to remain updated, it’s fairly easy to do when you have the right tools. Along with industry journals and books, tools such as Google Alerts, Feedly and Twitter will bring the headlines straight to you. I’d say Twitter was more powerful than Facebook, as the news is more likely to be fresh rather than regurgitated news dong the rounds – it’s also easy to spot trending hashtags on the newsfeed.
If you aren’t expanding your knowledge and skill set ….then you are stagnating. Embrace new skills, new opportunities and new experiences. You may not feel that they are strictly related, but broadening your horizons can spark creativity and perspective – a wonderful thing, not to mention the networking that you can do too!
As you begin to grow your personal brand, you will begin to see the new opportunities that present themselves to you. People will recognise your knowledge and authority on the subjects that you talk or write about and invitations to speak or provide comments will increase. Remember to keep grounded, being transparent about your weaknesses and challenges – you are human after all.