Personal branding is a topic that is spoken widely, with many different perspectives to it. Individuals chose to build their brands through many channels. It could be an online medium like social media, a more niche online segment like specific forums or completely offline through personal connections and networks. I have seen fantastic personal brands built with little online presence. It is important to know your audience and choose your mediums accordingly.
As technology marketers, we are often telling the companies we work with how important it is to build a corporate brand. If you have worked on building a personal brand, the value you can add in a corporate brand building exercise is much higher. In this article, I share my perspectives on building a personal brand and how you can do so. Here are a few of the advantages of creating a personal brand.
Show the value of your contribution
Building a brand is a great way to create a link between what you do and the value it generates. It applies to whichever capacity you work in – full time, part-time or consultancy. By building a brand you create awareness around your areas of expertise. You can start with a few simple steps – Contributing to conversations that happen on social media and other forums, attending sessions and asking questions or even communicating on threads. As you learn from these efforts, look at active participation. Speak at events, create a steady stream of content and share your experiences with the community.
Engage with the community
Building a brand requires you to put yourself out there (for the most part at least!). As you start interacting more, the community you engage in will identify you based on how you contribute. This means they will reach out to you for support, ask for your opinion and even ask for involvement in projects. The more conversations you get involved, the more perspectives you get exposed to By putting yourself out there, you will learn to think from a broader scope than before. In short, it takes you places you didn’t know existed!
This is an obvious one, but it still deserves some explanation. As you create your brand, you become more than your name, your qualifications and work experience. Individuals will see you as a creator – someone who can apply their education and experience to create value for any situation. This results in opportunities, whether it’s a job, a consultancy, an invite to speak at an event or contribute to a paper. Building a personal brand opens up many opportunities and is one of the first things you should think about if you want to get from point A to B in your career.
A few pointers to build a personal brand
The three benefits mentioned above are interconnected, and one leads to another. In summary, community, opportunity and value creation are three key benefits of building a personal brand. As you go about building your personal brand, here are a few things you should be mindful of.
Identify where you can add value – This is key. There might be areas which seem to be trending and gaining a lot of popularity. But if it’s not within your expertise, let it go. Figure out where you can add value and focus there. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself at the start, especially if you feel like you share the same perspective and don’t have anything significant to say. Take time to listen, and you can identify how to contribute.
Be authentic – If you search for marketing professionals on LinkedIn, there are plenty! You can find anyone from consultants to strategists to coaches. When building your brand, think of the authenticity you bring. It is best to not fit into a box. Be open with the value you can contribute and do what is within your skills and capabilities. The same applies to an organization. Keep your contributions and insight authentic at all times.
Quality over quantity – We often find comfort in saying that we have “x” number of skills and can contribute to all of them. It is better to have a core set of skills you want to build your brand around and have a few supplementary skills. The T shaped marketer concept explains this quite nicely. When you start building your brand, initially focus on the areas you excel at and enjoy. As you progress on these skills, look at branching out into other areas.
Pay attention to the little things – You know how the company you work for would ask all employees to use a standard email signature to ensure brand uniformity? Well, even if you work for yourself those concepts still apply. I recently realized that things like email signatures, how you sign off on email, how you write your social media posts all contribute to personal brand. Little things go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to share – We all get a little apprehensive about sharing a good idea or a great project. Why? Because others might duplicate it and then we could lose our brand identity. Sharing is a great way to contribute to the community and get feedback which helps you improve. As for the problem of someone else using your idea, it’s OK. There will be a sense of authenticity and value only you can deliver, So if someone does use your idea, take it as a compliment.
Hope these tips help you get started on your brand-building programs. All the best and enjoy the process!