I never thought I’d be writing to share advice with people about how to be themselves. Personal brand. I remember the first time I heard that phrase working for an American company. It was the VP of Sales telling me I have a great personal brand within the company. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, or how what role it plays today. But it’s not a new concept. Let me use another word. Reputation. What are you known for?
If you want people to know who you are and what you do, you need to do what you do consistently.
Who you are and what you do?
The first piece of advice I can give is to know what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Sometimes they are different things. But a combination of the two means you’re going to find it easier to consistently create and consistently do what you do. When you enjoy what you are doing, it’s easier to do it.
Know what you’re good at and build on it.
If you try to be good at many things, you’ll wear yourself down trying to maintain that appearance. You’ll set the expectation that your brand is one of the few that is amazing at whatever they put their hands to. Be realistic. Focus on what you’re good at and set realistic short term goals to grow
Share your stories
Know what you’re good at. Also recognise how you like to tell your story. Do you like to write? Can you put words together as simply as if it were speaking? Then write. Blog. Author a white paper or a book. Tell your story and make your words easy to find. Today in the tech industry, you need to know your audience and make your points concisely and quickly up front. Or you’ll lose the reader’s attention.
Do you find it easy to speak in front of a group of people? Then get involved in a user group. Offer to present. Challenge yourself to improve. Tell your story, but again, be make your points up front and give people a reason to keep listening.
Do you have a talent for communicating visually? Drawing? Making videos?
Perhaps you prefer to help people one at a time. Have you considered 1:1 mentoring?
Share your stories using your strengths and enjoy yourself as you share.
Comfortable / Uncomfortable
You should be comfortable being you and your authentic self. Get comfortable with talking about what you do and who you are, publicly. It doesn’t need to feel like bragging. Being real, the strengths and the weaknesses, showing the professional and the personal side.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable every now and then. Try new things that make you uncomfortable. They help you grow and discover new things.
In a busy world, so many things are competing for our attention. People aren’t going to know who you are and what you do if you aren’t consistently putting it out there for people to discover and engage.
Write regularly on your blog. It doesn’t need to be a literary masterpiece. It could be three paragraphs about an idea you have, an opinion you have formed, a recent experience.
Make videos regularly. Don’t shoot for perfection. Sure, challenge yourself to keep improving. But you’re not making video for a living. So don’t expect yourself to be the next hit YouTuber. Develop a couple of simple formats and consistently publish video. Once you’ve found a rhythm, then make small improvements.
Maintain a consistent social media presence. This doesn’t mean you’re constantly checking, posting and replying. Make a few times during the day. Share. When you’re reading or watching something interesting, inspiring; share it. But don’t just share it. Share your opinion about it. Share your experience or a related experience. Don’t just share and simply be a relay, an amplification point.
Create conversation around your content. Discuss some of the points from your blog post, your video, your talk. Create a thread, linking to your content. But don’t just stop there at a single post with a title and a link. Invite criticism. Learn from other’s views. Also recognise when someone is simply trying to bring you down. You’ll know this by the conversations that they hold.
Take those social exchanges to the next level. DM people. Organise a call with them.
Real conversations are better than automated conversations.
There are good reasons for automating a social post. You might be trying to reach an audience outside of your waking hours, or during a busy working day when you won’t have much time to create a post in real time. But it’s real conversations that attract other opinions.
Work together with someone on content. A regular show, podcast, videos, a publication. You encourage other viewpoints and new ideas. When it’s difficult to keep creating content, working with others helps you to keep going.
You have compounded reach. As individuals, you build a reputation. But you also build a reputation together.
In this collaboration, hold realistic expectations. I’ve found it’s easiest to keep it informal, a best effort. Be open and truthful and check in on each other. Be OK when someone has to change priorities in their life and the collaboration is put on hold, or holds it’s final season.
My favourite truth about reputation, personal brand, is that who you become doesn’t happen in isolation. Personally, what has been my greatest asset is being connected to a community. I have not been afraid to learn out loud and share what I learn as I grow. It is a continuing story, with a never ending source of material because there’s always something more to learn and share. When we hold this mindset, we invite others to share what they know and be part of our growth.
I won’t say that’s all I have. I look over the few points I’ve made and I see imperfections. I see things that I want to word differently. But if you know me, there’s one thing you know I often say. I have never been accused of being perfect, and I’m not going to let that stop me from hitting publish.