Personal branding has become a crucial part of the career portfolio for many in the Learning and Design industry. A personal brand can increase your value and your reach, and for many it brings a sense of confidence and purpose. Not for you? Well what if the Board respected your expertise in a subject before you gave that presentation? What if the interview panel knew your value before they even read your CV?
If you know that those supporting metrics might not come in for a year, do you have enough respect and influence to push through your fantastic idea and win that investment now? If not, dedicate time to building your brand and you’ll soon reap the rewards of being in control of a reputation that proceeds you.
You talking to me?
Personal branding is about winning an influential share of voice in a conversation so it’s vital to know where that conversation is taking place. Where does your audience hang out on and offline? Twitter? Specialised sector groups? LinkedIn? You need to be in all of those places so that you can talk to, listen to and respond to your followers, peers and network of influencers. Know your sector, know your competitors but most of all, know your audience and locate yourself accordingly.
It isn’t just about your digital presence, it’s also about networking and meeting the right people offline - getting invited to those important brainstorms and offering to present ideas at key meetings.
Building your brand is about taking every opportunity to stand out and be outstanding whether online or off.
People are more inclined to follow the online presence of distinctive commentators, so what’s your USP? It’s crucial to work on distilling exactly what makes you stand out. How would you answer that classic interview question: ‘why should we choose you above everyone else?’ Is it your passion to change learning cultures, produce creative videos, or your strength in implementing social platforms that makes you the go-to person?
Nailing this aspect of the process means that you’ll have a rock solid identity around which all of your content can revolve. People will know what you’re about as soon as they see your name: a situation that all great brands have established and guard fiercely.
The devil’s in the detail
Maximise your impact by focusing on a niche area. Think big fish in a little pond here or even a lily pad on a big pond. Pick your lily pad and defend it. You’ve earned the right to an opinion on issues affecting your niche, express it clearly and unequivocally. Being focused and maintaining authenticity increases the likelihood of people buying into your brand.
5 tips for building brand YOU
You need to create a situation where your followers would miss you if you disappeared. That means that they need to get big benefits out of reading your blog post or connecting with you on LinkedIn. If you can provide insider knowledge, right some wrongs, show better ways of working and stimulating debate then you’ll always have people coming back for more and telling others about what you’re doing.
You know that people work best when they have clearly defined targets so why should it be any different for your personal branding mission? Knowing how many followers you’d like to have following your blog in a year and the milestones to getting to that figure will keep you on track and pushing hard to achieve your goal.
Do one thing really well
Having said that you need to be everywhere that your audience hangs out, the most successful digital gurus will have a main channel that forms the focus of their online presence. Usually a blog, it’s a place where followers can come to access the richest of the commentator’s content. Concentrate your efforts on getting this hub right. It could be a blog, a LinkedIn Group or a weekly email, but makes sure it looks good, is comprehensive, really engaging, unique and shareable. It will supply the meatier hooks for your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat channels if you have them.
To really stand out you need to aim to be better than the best, a tough challenge indeed, but there is one tool in your armoury that even the best bloggers may not be maximising and that’s ‘look and feel’. Take a tip from famous brands and employ a consistent look and feel to all of your communications both on and offline. Do your business cards match your LinkedIn banner? Do you wear those quirky glasses on your profile pic when you give your TED talk? Having your own logo might be a step too far but you can establish the same instant brand recognition using colour, texture and styling through all of your interactions.
Be bold and outspoken
Personal branding is time consuming but can be extremely rewarding. If this post has sparked your interest and you’d like to know more you’re in luck. There’s a plethora of information about every aspect that we’ve discussed here such as Quicksprout, Willamarruda, and personalbranding.tv.
Personal branding is a growing phenomenon of increasing importance, don’t let brand YOU get left behind!
More in this series
- Making data work for you: 5 tips from a marketing professional
- Curating in a content jungle: 5 tips from a marketing professional
- Campaigning for better learning: 5 tips from a marketing professional
- Spreading the word with social media - 5 tips from a marketing professional
- Creating personas that work: 5 tips from a marketing professional