By Sallee Poinsette-Nash, Brandable & Co.
Regardless of whether you are running a business, advancing a career, or looking for a new job, focusing on building your brand will support your strategy to thrive and connect to opportunity.
People-brands are simply visible human beings who share a message, engage an audience, and amplify value. Here are six easy steps, that you can take at your own pace, to get you started:
- Google yourself
If I googled your name, do you know what I would find? People should be able to discover you with a simple online search, as well as connect and interact with you on your various social channels. Whether you’re going to a meeting, pitch or interview it’s inevitable that someone is going to look you up so take a minute to Google yourself (check web, image and video search results) and see what others are seeing when they search your name.
- Create a great first impression
‘Brand’ is easier to understand using a ‘shop’ analogy, framing you as the shop keeper and first impressions as your shop window. When it comes to your digital shop window, whether it’s LinkedIn for work or Instagram for visual impact, it’s important to keep it up to date, showcase expertise and make sure that it feels human. Here’s a free 3-part series of LinkedIn guides to help with the ‘How’ if that’s your platform of choice.
- Know yourself, your audience and expand your network
Why do you want to build your brand? Like with any journey when you’re crafting your brand strategy, knowing where you’re starting from as well as where you’re going makes the whole process more efficient. Getting clear on what you’re good at, finding those who need what you offer, and connecting with them in places where they’re most likely to engage is standard stuff, yet opportunity often resides in the most unlikely places. You have so many different aspects to who you are and there is plenty of choice out there when it comes to online groups and communities, so try something different, share your message and see where it leads you!
- Showcase social proof
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to make buying decisions based on the opinions of other customers. This is something that should be included in your brand strategy, regardless of whether you’re marketing a company or an individual. Why? Because social proof amplifies trust, interest, opportunities, and those all-important conversions. Simply put, social proof is the emotional preference for doing what other people are doing, because if other people are doing it, it proves that it must be worthwhile! The easiest way to collect social proof for your personal brand is asking for recommendations on LinkedIn as the platform is set up to facilitate this quickly and easily, people who use LinkedIn are familiar with it and it more than likely won’t come as a surprise to your connections when you ask. Have a read of our free social proof guide which gives you three easy ways that you can apply social proof to your personal brand marketing strategy.
- Show up
The world of work may have conditioned people to be ‘professional’ but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be yourself – a personal brand that exhibits authenticity and character has an advantage over one that showcases a ‘work character’ designed to survive office life. Mastering the art of being who you already are doesn’t need to be overly complex, but it does need to be personal. Given that all business relationships are human to human, individuality and enthusiasm can make the difference between your next big opportunity and the one that got away so the more that you show up as a person with character, stories and purpose, the broader the future opportunities for growth.
- Apply the one centimetre rule
Positioning yourself exactly where you are today won’t produce momentum. Visualise a ruler with you at zero and the biggest version of your goals or desired outcomes at 30 centimetres. As an example, let’s use ‘bestselling author’ as your 30 cm goal. Today you haven’t written a word of this book but you can position yourself one centimetre ahead of today, which might look like: a response to ‘what did you do this weekend?’ of ‘I was thinking about a book I’m planning on writing’, it may look like a social media post that says ‘Does anyone know any published authors? I’m planning on writing a book and would love to have a coffee with someone who has already done it”. You still haven’t written a single word of that bestseller, however, anyone that you’ve spoken to or who has seen your social media posts now links ‘writer, author or book’ with you. This allows your network to connect you to others, share articles that may be of interest and present opportunities that may have otherwise remained in the dark. The 1 cm rule is a fantastic way to not only hold yourself accountable (let’s face it, there are only so many times you can say you’re thinking about it!), it also moves you along that ruler at a much greater pace, taking you further, faster.
Being visible can be scary, cringe, embarrassing (*insert relevant feelings here!) and the thought of it can leave you feeling all sorts of vulnerable, but we all have ‘being human’ in common so allow yourself to make mistakes, to be supported by others and embrace the opportunities on offer. It’s important to know that brand building isn’t a race; results take time, and the most successful ones are advocates of authenticity over superficiality, connection over following and meaning over metrics.
Working from home, hybrid working, and Zoom is our new landscape so it is more important than ever to understand and embrace brand strategy as the valuable career and business development tool it is, giving yourself the best possible chance to connect to opportunity. The streets may be emptier than they were a few years ago, yet it’s busier than ever online and irrespective of how crowded it gets out there, there is always room for another authentic, human voice. And there is no good reason why it shouldn’t be yours.