Path to Success
Become Your Own Brand
Becoming an independent business owner, everything you do impacts your brand.
Branding is not just for companies and products anymore. Today, you need to think about establishing your personal brand, especially if you’re going to be running your own business.
Personal branding is more critical today than ever before, driven by the growth of social media, content marketing and changing consumer expectations. Today, there is an extraordinary opportunity to put yourself out there, to establish yourself and to engage with customers who increasingly expect to have personal relationships with brands they consume.
Defining Personal Brand
What is your personal brand? For one, it’s far more than your reputation, e.g. what others think about you. Your personal brand is a manifestation of who you are from many vantages. It’s the representation of your expertise and knowledge within your profession. It’s also an expression of your values, ideals and principles that you live and work by.
“A personal brand can help you clearly and consistently portray how you are differentiated among similar professionals, and allows … customers the ability to gain insight into what you are about as an individual,” notes a recent article. “A personal brand has become a staple … for both entrepreneurs and those who work for an established company. To set yourself apart from the ever-increasing amount of competition … it is necessary to spend time understanding what your personal brand is, and how to consistently and strategically share it.”
Considering Your Personal Brand
Before you embark on defining your personal brand, it’s a good idea to take a step back and answer some important questions about yourself and your values. Consider thinking about the following questions to give yourself a framework for developing your personal brand:
- What do you care most about?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are the specific, unique qualities that you’re best at?
- What strengths and values do you bring to your work?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you want your brand to represent?
This form of brand discovery is an exercise that helps define what you want to be, not only today but in the future. A little introspection goes a long way, helping you to frame yourself to yourself before you start shaping how you want to be for others.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Personal Branding
Here are some of the steps to take in creating your personal brand.
Step 1. Decide on the Purpose
Why do you need a personal brand? Having a clear idea about what you need from your personal brand and how you want it to complement your business is essential. Having a clear idea of the vision, goals and objectives are going to help shape what your brand evolves into. Is your brand meant to sell products, or bring in partners? Maybe theres another purpose.
Step 2. Do Your Research
You need to understand many things about your market and potential customers before you can fully develop a personal brand. That means researching many components, including:
- The Industry. Do you know how others in this industry leverage their personal brand? Are there any ethical guidelines or company/product-specific norms to consider? What types of values, goals and messages are intrinsic to the industry? Knowing the landscape of your profession helps to provide you with a clear perspective about your brand.
- The Competition. What are others who are doing the same type of business doing or not doing to build their personal brand? Look for success stories in your industry to understand what those leaders did to establish their personal brand and what they’re doing to maintain and grow it.
- Yourself. You need to know what others are saying about you and what a Google search turns up. But doing a search engine selfie is only part of the research you should do on yourself. You should see what’s out there about you on popular social networks as well. There are tools such BrandYourself that can give you a clearer sense of your existing reputation. If it’s a good one, that’s something to build on.
Looking at the journeys others have taken helps to inform where your competitors and trailblazers have gone. It’s OK if there are some commonalities in your personal brand identities. But you should also keep in mind what you think is different about yourself to help separate yourself from others.
Step 3: Define Your Attributes
It’s important to outline the attributes you want aligned with your personal brand. This is where you pull in your previous work and incorporate your industry expertise, skills, strengths and knowledge. Coupled with the research you’ve already done, these attributes help to inform what you need to say both to attract customers and to stand out in the crowd.
It is that value proposition — what makes you unique — that should be at the heart of your personal brand. It should represent authentically who you are and be relatable, demonstrating what you do and how. It’s often helpful to come up with a list of adjectives that describe how you want to define your brand.
These words and phrases are helpful clues that help to further define your brand and how to position yourself. They can also form the basis of content you will create to promote yourself, your business and your brand.
Taking the time to craft your personal branding statement is an important component of this work. The personal branding statement is unique and should clearly articulate what you do, for whom and why. It’s your personal elevator pitch and a chance for you to grab the reader’s attention. It should be no more than one or two sentences and is not intended to tell the whole story of who you are.
Step 4: Achieve Clarity
Building your personal brand is highly dependent on where you are at present. You need to be clear about your position — with your business, in the industry, in your community, and in your commitment to your personal brand. For example, do you already have a social media presence? If so, how many followers and likes do you have and how does that compare to business owners like you?
Clarity can be another way of saying metrics. How are you going to measure the impact of your personal brand? Increases in sales are one indicator, as are social media measures, numbers of reviews and stars achieved in those reviews. Determine what you will look at to know how your personal brand is making an impact.
Step 5: Take Action
With your plan firmly in place and a brand statement draft written, it’s a good idea to run the work you’ve done by trusted advisors, mentors, friends and family members. Be open to feedback and use it to reshape the personal brand, being mindful that ultimately it’s your call.
Taking action also involves taking steps to ensure that your personal brand is out there and being used. Today, that’s much less about billboards and radio ads and much more about having an online presence. We look at the online presence below.
One aspect of brand growth is networking. This networking needs to happen where you’ll be doing business, either locally, online or both. Network with online influencers in your industry. Connect with fellow entrepreneurs or potential customers at business networking events. Find online forums where you can post and comment. Offer to write guest posts for sites on your areas of expertise.
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Technology and Your Personal Brand
Today, developing your personal brand is about more than creating a logo and printing business cards. You need a multichannel approach to getting yourself out there. Knowing how to optimize your brand means diving into various online media, including:
- A domain. You’ll want to have your own website and purchase a domain that makes sense and aligns with your brand. This online real estate is important, even if YourName.com is taken.
- Blog. Having your own blog gives voice to your expertise, insights, knowledge and opinions. A blog should be an opportunity to optimize keywords and phrases that will attract potential customers to your website. Blog posts need to be regularly posted and can provide you with rich content that can be shared on social media. As a member of Multileveling you can blog on our platform as often as you like.
- Social platforms. Your business type may help you decide where you need a social media presence. LinkedIn is an excellent place to hang your hat professionally. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Quora are some of the most popular ways to share your message.
Tips For Managing Your Personal Brand
Like anything else with your business, you need to take care of your personal brand. Here are a few tips for making sure your personal brand is working for you.
- Everything you do affects your personal brand. Your actions online, within your industry, in your community and with your customers reflects on your brand. If your actions do not match your brand, you can quickly lose credibility.
- Being honest with yourself is critical. From the moment you begin working on your personal brand, you need to be able to self-assess. That means being realistic about what you do well and what you do not. This personal candor is important not just for your brand but for your overall business as well, shaping decisions on hiring consultants and your own role as the business grows.
- Authenticity matters. For people to trust and engage with you, they need to believe you are genuine. If you pretend to be something or someone you’re not, it will not last long. It’s too hard to keep it up. Adhere to your brand standards, the image you want to project and who you are.
- Leverage for growth. As your business grows, you can continue to use your personal brand to attract new customers and grow your credibility. Success matters and people want to be associated with a winner. Growth makes it difficult for leaders to focus their time on many different things, but presence, whether in YouTube videos blogs or speaking appearances will go a long way towards continuing your success.
At Multileveling.com, we help people become leaders, build community and use our tools and insights to drive career success. To get the most out of our platform and the knowledge you need for a vibrant career, check out step 3: It’s a Marathon not a Sprint.
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Working for yourself should be about building a future for you, your family, and anyone you work with. That doesn’t happen overnight.
Your mental and physical health matters. Many people forget this. We’ll talk about ways to keep stress levels down and maintain happiness while doing this work.
Now that the foundations are in place, lets start marketing the products to the right audience.