A strong personal brand will follow you wherever you go. If you’re looking for new career opportunities, it will help you make connections and find meaningful employment. If you want more sales, it can help you enter a conversation from a position of greater authority. If you’re boosting your company’s visibility, it will help you generate more visibility, more trust and more leads. And because it’s at least partially based on your natural personality, half the work is already done for you.
The critical qualities of a personal brand -- professionalism, authority, consistency and so on -- are all important, but they pale in comparison to one important feature: visibility. Without enough visibility for your personal brand, it will never gain the necessary momentum to significantly grow, even if it’s perfectly constructed.
The solution to this visibility problem is to find more outlets to showcase your personal brand. Any opportunity you have to show off your personality, meet new people or share new content can be considered a viable outlet for your personal brand, and these five are some of the most effective:
1. Personal blog
Your personal blog is where it’s all going to begin. It’s your perfect opportunity to showcase who you are, write regular content, share media and engage with your soon-to-be loyal fans and followers. In a way, your personal blog is going to be a gateway platform -- it’s going to serve as a foundation for your personal brand, and as fuel for the other outlets. For example, you can use samples of your writing from your blog to get into a speaking event, and you can syndicate your blog posts on social media for greater reach and impact.
With the vast variety of tools available online, creating and setting up your own blog is free and easier than ever before. Within a few hours, you’ll be able to customize your layout and start writing. You won’t need anything fancy at first, just a layout that’s easy on the eyes for readers. In time, you can add the bells and whistles.
2. Guest blogging
Once you’ve developed a good portfolio of blog content on your personal blog to showcase your knowledge, expertise and value, become a guest contributor or columnist for relevant industry publications. The benefits of guest blogging are myriad, but of particular value is the instant amplification of exposure and reach you’ll get. Furthermore, aligning your name with trusted, authoritative publishing brands in your field adds instant credibility and authority to your personal brand.
3. Speaking events
Speaking events are perfect opportunities to show off your personal brand in person, but they can be hard to come by until you start building a preliminary reputation. Once you’ve started building up your personal blog, you can start looking for local events that feature speakers related to your field of expertise.
Small-business organizations will often look for startup entrepreneurs and other professionals to engage with through hands-on learning sessions or training seminars. As long as you have the skills to do this, sign up!
Speaking opportunities are great because they’re free, and because you’ll be positioned as an authority immediately. Simply having your name on the roster gives you greater personal brand recognition, and you can cite the speaking event on your resume in future conversations or interactions. Plus, when you’re on stage, you’ll have the full attention of everyone in the room -- and a key opportunity to make a strong impression. Take as many speaking opportunities as you can get, and if you can, try to host one of your own.
4. Networking events
Networking events sometimes double as speaking events, so be sure to attend a diverse blend of different venues and opportunities. As another in-person opportunity, this is a key time for you to show your face to the public and earn some recognition in your local area. If you can attend networking events specific to your industry, that can help you build your influence and reputation in your area of expertise, but don’t be afraid to branch out to other types of networking events. You never know what opportunities you’ll find when you meet new types of people.
Networking events sometimes cost a bit of money to attend, but the connections you’ll meet are typically worth the entry fee. Even so, if you look hard enough, there are bound to be dozens of free networking events in your area as well.
5. Social media
Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, are heralded as the key to building an effective personal brand, but realistically, they serve as the tail end of the process:
- Only if you have a blog can you syndicate content on your platform.
- Only if you start attending speaking events can you begin flaunting your expertise.
- Only when you start networking in person can you build up a wealth of loyal, local followers.
From there, you can start networking with other professionals across the country (or the world). While speaking and networking events afford you a level of intimacy, social media affords you a wider net. You can scale your visibility faster, meet larger numbers of new people and eventually round out your online profile for any interested parties to see.
If you’re serious about building a reputable personal brand from the ground up, these five key outlets are essential for your strategy. It’s easy to focus solely on either a digital brand presence or an in-person one, but both realms are critical if you want to achieve your true personal branding potential.
As you start building momentum, you may find that one outlet is more effective than the others. If this is the case, weigh your efforts more heavily in that area, but do not neglect the others. The relationship between these different channels is what’s ultimately going to lead you to success.