Personal Branding: A Comprehensive Guide
Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams. If you mention these names to anyone, they would quickly know who you’re talking about. Who doesn’t know Cristiano is a footballer, Serena is a tennis star, and Woods is a renowned golfer?
These global stars have built their brand around their talents and passions. While you don’t always get the opportunity to carve out a brand in the stature of Ronaldo or Woods, you can still become a renowned person in your industry.
Whether you’re in SEO, public speaking, blogging, venture capitalism, or consulting, your personal brand is one of the most important tools that will help get your name out there and promote credibility. In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into what exactly personal branding is and how cultivating a personal brand has tons of benefits for you to explore.
What is Personal Branding?
What do you want people to say about you when you aren’t around? Undoubtedly, you want it to be something good, but that has to come with a little effort on your end. Personal branding is what you do to help cultivate an overall impression you leave with others. It’s a combination of personality, values, skills, and experience that spring to mind whenever your name is mentioned.
Utilizing a process that shapes the perception people have about you is key. It’s all about carving out an image and the good reputation you want the outside world to see. It entails tailoring what’s being said about you in the virtual space to establish yourself as a leader or expert within your field.
Believe it or not, you have a personal brand — whether you have worked to build it or left it to pure chance. The problem with leaving it to chance is that if you aren’t the one steering the ship, which is a huge missed opportunity. The result could be a perception that doesn’t reflect your conduct, expertise, behavior, and attitudes. Ans that could be very bad for business.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
Who would you rather write your story? You, or someone who doesn’t even know you? Owning your branding comes with numerous benefits, including:
- More visibility: SEO, once a “nice to have strategy,” is now essential if you want to be more accessible. With the majority of consumers looking for resources online, you can’t afford not to have an online footprint. The elements of a solid branding strategy include a website, social media presence, and, yes, lock-tight SEO, so you pop up in search results easily.
- Trust and authority: Another crucial component of a personal brand is ensuring you’re taking a stance on any happenings within your industry, as well as providing resources to help your audience. Articles, blog posts, and guides are just a few examples of content marketing materials that will help position you as the go-to expert and thought leader in your industry. They can enhance credibility, and the more credible you are, the more likely people will trust you and want to work with you.
- Robust network: Your personal brand should clearly articulate your value proposition. By putting it out there completely, you’re showing people exactly who you are and what you offer. This makes it extremely easy for your peers and consumers to identify the benefits of connecting with you. As your valuable connections grow, you’re able to develop an ever-growing network of potential clients. It also helps you build partnerships with fellow industry professionals so you can leverage their audiences for even more network growth.
- Increased value of services: With a solid personal brand, you may no longer have to compete on price. Instead, you can leverage the personal brand you built and use that credibility to put together a rate structure that better aligns with your expertise. It may seem scary at first, but clients will not hesitate to pay top dollar for top service, products, and/or knowledge.
How to Build a Personal Brand
As we have seen, a personal brand is critical to you professionally. It gives you more visibility and positions you as the go-to expert in your industry. If the outside world isn’t telling your story in the way that you want it to be told, here’s how you can change the perception.
1. Figure Out What You Want People To Know You For
As Amanda Bond opines, “To build a strong personal brand, you have to stand for something, have a strong belief in a certain way of doing things, and openly communicate those beliefs from your platforms.”
Search yourself and find that special thing that is YOU and build your brand around it. If you’re working within a certain industry, then that’s a great place to start. It could be your skills, credentials, passion, interest, belief, or core values. Whatever you go with, make sure it’s authentically you. Some of the questions to help you define your unique value proposition include:
- When it comes to a life-long career, what do you want to do?
- What qualities or attributes best depict your passion?
- What skills, credentials, certifications, or awards have you achieved throughout your career?
- Which topic or industry are you most interested in?
- What do you believe in or stand for or against?
- What are your core values?
2. Choose Your Target Audience
If you want your personal brand to have a strong foundation, you must understand your specific target audience. Doing so helps you to align your value proposition with their problems and position yourself as the best person to solve them.
- Who needs the services or products you offer?
- What industry or vertical do you serve?
- What influences your buyers?
- What are some key demographics of your ideal buyer?
Having a detailed profile of your target audience helps you to stay on point. It helps outline why you care about your clients’ problems — which is what they’ll remember you for. As a result, you’ll be able to attract the right prospects that are more likely to benefit from your partnership.
3. Craft Your Story
The chances are good that other experts in your industry target the same audience as you do. What sets you apart from others? You should answer this question in a compelling story.
A straightforward narrative about what you do and who you are won’t always help you to shine. It takes a unique story to cut through the noise and allow you to stand out from the crowd. The more unique elements you add to your account, the more memorable and compelling it will be. Think about it this way:
- What life experiences have informed your ascent to your current position?
- What interesting twists has your professional journey taken?
- Have you had an unusual path to get to your current job?
- How have you specifically helped people in the past?
Elon Musk once said a brand is just a perception, and with time, the perception will match reality. Your story might be a little exaggerated to stand out, but you’ll soon morph into the person you envision.
4. Establish an Online and Social Presence
Create a personal website to publish your story and what you want people to know you for. This will be the first platform your ideal customer will visit when they need your services.
In addition, create social media profiles to reflect your skills, interests, experience, and ambitions. Make sure the story and information you share across your website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles are consistent.
5. Create a Visibility Strategy
Sharing your knowledge and expertise on your platforms is a great way to earn audience trust and build a network. However, such a strategy can take months or years to bear the desired fruits. If you want to gain early exposure and increase your visibility:
- Agree to be a guest speaker on webinars, podcasts, TV, radio, and print magazines in your industry.
- Attend more conferences and apply to speak at local meetup groups and other events your target audiences are likely to attend.
- Contribute posts and articles for the blogs and publications that your target audience follows.
Don’t let the outside world create a perception that you don’t like. Go all out and be intentional about your personal brand. Follow the steps above to shape what you want to be known for, and start today.