Building a business isn’t easy. Success comes from intensive, hard work and a great deal of learning. Any entrepreneur will tell you that it’s important to love what you do, leverage your passion, work hard and most importantly -- never stop building your personal brand.
That’s because people like to do business with other people, not companies. Building your personal brand lends credibility and authenticity to your business, especially if that business is you.
Past surveys have shown that trust in brands and corporations has declined in recent years and 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, so it’s more important than ever to create a personal brand that creates strong connections with your target audience. The most effective personal brands are built around these seven key elements:
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Authenticity can’t be forced. It comes when words and actions align. You don’t actively promote yourself as “being authentic.” You simply are authentic. Or, you’re not.
When I’m shaking someone’s hand, I’m not trying to slip a business card into their pocket without being noticed. Instead, genuinely try helping your audience. When you curate and share content while asking nothing in return, you’re seen as genuinely and verifiably authentic.
Authenticity is necessary, if you ever hope to grow your brand and your business.
Related Book: The Brand Mapping Strategy by Karen Tiber Leland
2. Package consistency.
Growing your personal brand will gradually expand your presence across a number of marketing channels and social networks. As you create and optimize your social profiles, you’ll want to maintain consistency in how you present your personal brand. Not only do you want to make it easy for folks to identify you, there’s a good chance you’ll run into other people who share your name.
A consistent image can help avoid confusion. You can achieve this with any combination of the following:
- A logo designed around your name that you use consistently;
- The same profile picture across all channels;
- Consistent background/cover images used across social channels;
- Specific color schemes used in media and social promotion; and
- The same outfit or dress style (think Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg).
Keep in mind that you need to be consistent in how you communicate and use social media. That means posting regularly and maintaining a consistent personality. It’s all part of how you package and present your brand.
3. Your story.
Your story can be a powerful component of your personal brand. Everyone loves a good story; it’s one of the reasons storytelling is so effective in traditional marketing. It creates an emotional and human connection. A great story tells people who you are, what you stand for and how you got to where you are today. It’s your journey from nothing to greatness.
A terrific example of telling a story around a brand is Go Pro’s back story video. It begins by explaining their culture and core values, and the journey from startup to now, told by likable CEO Nicholas Woodman. Then, it transitions into an epic showcase of what they’re all about. Try taking the same approach when sharing your story.
Your brand promotions and value proposition will get people to start paying attention, but it’s your expertise that will make them follow you and remain engaged. The most successful influencers focus their attention within a specific industry, vertical or niche. Within that area, they showcase expertise through content marketing, public speaking, interviews, and direct engagement.
Position yourself as an expert by:
- Developing a blog and consistently creating high-value, 10x content;
- Guest posting on relevant authoritative websites;
- Answering questions on social sites such as Quora or Reddit;
- Participating in discussions on social channels and groups within Facebook and LinkedIn; and
- Rounding up great content and providing expert advice to your list subscribers.
For any personal brand to grow, it needs to be visible to an audience. That means you need to be actively promoting yourself and marketing your personal brand on the web. Many of the tips provided above for sharing expertise will also contribute to growing your brand’s visibility. The key is to get active and remain consistent. Paid promotion of any kind isn’t necessary if you’re actively and organically promoting yourself consistently through content marketing, social engagement, interviews and community involvement.
6. Value proposition.
A key component of building a personal brand is knowing what you have to offer your audience. What exactly are you giving them in exchange for their time and attention? Whether you plan to offer resources for marketing tips, growth hacking advice, or to be an expert on operational efficiency, you need to be able to communicate it clearly to your audience.
Boil it down to a single sentence you can use if someone asked you to describe yourself, and you’re golden.
You’re only as good as the people you know -- or so they say. Connections are an important part of building your personal brand. Not only will your connections help introduce you to others andexpand your network, they’ll provide a growing list of testimonials that speak directly to your character.
Testimonials and peer reviews are one of the strongest trust signals and are invaluable when your audience is considering doing business with you.