When you think of personal brand, do you think of Oprah and Steve? Of brands that are, quite simply, the names of their owners? This is right; however, a personal brand is so much more than that.
A personal brand can stand alone, walk side-by-side with a corporate brand or lie just beneath the surface, in support of a corporate brand. In short, a personal brand is necessary for success in any business scenario, on every level.
Why? Today’s consumers are not pledging loyalty to large multinationals and faceless conglomerates. Instead, they are seeking out personal relationships on which to build their corporate loyalties. In short, people buy from people because they can see, hear and feel that person’s values and vision firsthand. With a strategically built personal brand, expertise is witnessed, trust is felt, relationships are built, loyalty is created…and business is good.
Make business better with a personal brand
When you build a personal brand, you are showcasing those things that will not only grow your corporate brand or career advancement opportunities; you are working to attract those customers who will be most interested in you and what you’re offering. And when you attract all the right people, you are working to build a loyal customer base that will act as personal and corporate brand champions.
By now, you might be asking How can I build my personal brand? This can be a DIY project (with support), and if you adhere to the following pieces of advice, you’re sure to experience the type of growth that comes with owning a strong personal brand:
- Define your USP. Your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is that thing that differentiates you from the competition. Ask yourself what you will bring that no one else will bring, or how you will solve a problem in a way that no one else has. Now get ready to build your personal brand around that distinctive quality. It will come to be what you’re “known for.” Always choose to stand out, rather than following or mimicking the competition.
- Know your WHY. Your WHY is the reason you’ve chosen to do what you’re doing. Your WHY should never be profit or notoriety; these things will fizzle. Instead, it should be something that you’re passionate about, something you’re gifted in…something you feel that you simply must share with others.
- Communicate that USP with purpose and clarity. Now is the time to put your USP and your WHY together. In all the places where you will communicate with ideal clients, be clear about what you’re doing, how it’s different from the others and why you’ve chosen to do it. Write a tagline specifically for your personal brand, for use on LinkedIn and other places. Ensure that it effectively communicates what you do and how you do it uniquely. For instance, consider tactical logistics strategist rather than dispatcher.
- Make your story available. You’ve learned that people want to connect with people. Along with that comes their desire to learn about where you’ve been, what you’ve experienced, and what things led to you wanting to serve them in your own unique way. Record this story on your website, on your social media page…anywhere that people who are looking for it can find it. And don’t forget to include emotional factors in your story—especially those that move your ideal client most profoundly. This is where loyalty begins.
- Start proving your expertise. This is a “show, don’t tell” proposal. Saying you’re an expert isn’t nearly as effective as demonstrating your expertise. In fact, simply saying you’re an expert can be detrimental to your personal brand. Make a practice of showing up regularly in conversations regarding your industry or niche. Whilst there, offer valuable, relevant advice to those experiencing the problem(s) you can solve. Schedule speaking engagements, publish a book, hold webinars…anything that you feel will best prove that you’re an expert.
- Stay the course, to foster trust. Along with the previous point, people will begin to trust you, and turn to you, as they see that your expertise is the real deal. In addition to this, always come through on every promise: do what you say you will, plus more. Respond promptly to requests and comments (especially the negative ones). Show that you care, and that you are interested, more than anything, in doing those things that you say you will. Once the seed of trust is planted, it will burst up and blossom into something we call brand loyalty—a priceless commodity in the business world.
- Personally brand your business cards. A corporate business card with your name printed on it isn’t enough. If you are the owner of your corporate brand, infuse your personal brand into that card design. If you’re not, talk to your supervisor about how you can incorporate your personal brand into that corporate design—for a win/win situation all around.
- Always think visibility. All of the work you’ve done (and will do) to build your personal brand will be meaningless if you don’t take steps to put it in front of all the right people, in all the right places. Do your research: find out where your ideal clients are hanging out (digital and physical) and get there. Know what they want to talk about and give them a place to talk about it. Know what keywords they’re using and use them. Put your personal brand in their line of vision. Otherwise, they won’t know how you can help them, because they won’t know you exist.
- Again, people want to deal with people. And in order to make this happen, you must get out there and interact. This can be difficult, especially if you’re an introvert and prefer to communicate through email and social media. Know that this is a muscle that will grow as you use it, so start networking, attending conferences…and getting yourself to the places where your ideal clients are spending time looking for the solution you’re offering.
- View sales as a secondary objective. This will sound counterintuitive to many, since without sales, you’re out of business. However, it’s important to note that without a business relationship that has a personal feel to it, people will not sense a connection that’s strong enough to compel them to buy…again and again. Use your personal brand to build relationships first, and what you’ll get is a stronger personal brand, loyalty, and SALES.
By Sammy Blindell of How to Build a Brand