Today we’re talking about personal branding principles which apply not only online, but also offline. In my honest opinion, personal branding is something every entrepreneur should do if they ever wish to achieve growth and expand their skills, expertise, name and brand.
Here Is What You Will Learn Today:
- Why personal branding still matters now
- And why it will still matter in 2016
- The 5 Principles of personal branding
- Why they are important
- How to use them to your advantage
- And how I do it!
Why Personal Branding Is the Key
Warning: those with a weak heart should not engage in this war. Simply put: it’s tough out there and you better be ready. Business cards became disposable waste in our pockets and bags, and having a shallow online presence won’t cut it anymore either. Offline and online, doesn’t matter, the scenario is the same: fight hard and dare to be different! That’s why personal branding is the key to building a name for yourself, before building a corporate one.
People, Not Brands
I know you don’t like the sound of it, but it’s true. People are tired of being sold stories of company X or Y. They want real facts and real case studies. If you haven’t figured that out already, it’s not too late – December 2015 isn’t over yet. Don’t be afraid to be the image of your own company or even of your clients’.
Keep It Real
Yes, people want real measurable value. What better way to do it than asking your own community for help? This is where having a personal brand comes in handy: it’s easier for one person to ask for help compared to an enterprise. The easiest way to retain a community is online, so be prepared to invest money and time in a website and in a social media group (Skype chat room, Facebook secret group, LinkedIn group, Google+ community, Instagram account).
New Religion in Social Media
Simply put, don’t be afraid to have a voice. Online and offline. Don’t be afraid to be active on your social media accounts, and engage in conversation using popular hashtags. Start blogging. Don’t let the anxiety of writing your first article get the best of you. Everything is perfectible. The time when you will know how to write the perfect blog post is just around the corner, trust me.
Five Principles of Personal Branding
Based on my experience, this is what YOU need to do to be successful in building a personal brand.
Principle #1. Be Quiet
When hunting, be very, very quiet. The idea behind this first principle is to simply ‘spy’ on competition.
Why? Because others have done it a thousand times and there’s no hurting in seeing and observing what others are doing. Especially when they’re doing a great job.
How? When an apprentice aims at becoming a warrior, they will quietly follow their master. In this case, the ‘master’ is the one who already has an established personal brand. Be silent and observe. Take notes. Look for patterns that repeat.
Here’s How I Do It
a) Online. In the beginning, I’m just a number, a name. I start following other numbers and names. I also follow Voices – people who already have a powerful personal brand. There’s nothing to it, no engagement in the beginning. Just ‘adding’ them to my list. It’s fine if they follow back. It’s fine if they don’t.
b) Offline. I search for networking events and for communities. I attend (buy a ticket or sign up), get a cup of coffee or water and just stay in the back. Keeping a low profile is important. You have no idea how much access you have when you’re invisible. :)
Principle #2. Listen
How many times have you been told You don’t listen? My point, exactly.
Why? With listening comes great understanding. This principle applies not only in brand building, but also in leadership. Your goal is to become a voice, therefore a leader in your industry, so learn to listen.
How? Be mindful, be present. This is the only way: research for communities and opportunities. Online communities. Offline networking sessions. Map the most frequently asked questions. Take notes on the most important need of every member, especially the influential ones. You will immediately recognize when a member has an important status among the other community members. In most cases, he/she is the person who asks the right questions and supports answers with examples (agreeing or disagreeing). Status members are interested in the wellbeing of the entire community. Listen to them and take notes. Leave no information behind, it will come in handy sooner or later.
Here’s How I Do It
a) Online. I follow people around and take notes on their patterns, activities. If they attend a Twitter chat, a hangout, a blab, I’ll join in. Maybe retweet or favorite a Tweet, +1 a comment or something like that. Not too much engagement and definitely not screaming for attention. Easy as pie. Slice by slice.
b) Offline. I start attending events on a regular basis, especially if they belong to the same community. With each meeting, I advance from the back of the room to the middle. I may stay and network a bit, but that’s not always the case. At this stage, at least.
Principle #3. Be Noise
Why? “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” Napoleon is right. The next step in building a personal brand is to be noise. If at first you were silent and listened, now you have to go beyond that. It’s easy to forget those who do not speak.
How? Ask one question or give one piece of advice that will blow people’s minds. You don’t want to expose yourself too much, but in the same time, you shouldn’t just be invisible. Break the silence with a powerful question. And get the attention of the community by providing one memorable advice to the influential members.
Here’s How I Do It
a) Online. I ask the community members if they would like to connect on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter or Instagram. And connect with them. Then, I start using that social platform and invite outsiders to connect with the most influential members one-on-one.
b) Offline. I attend every meeting and introduce myself each time. I make sure as I’m standing somewhere in the middle that I have an influential member introduce themselves before me. At the end of my introduction, I give one tip to the influential member. It’s either that or a short ‘elevator pitch’ that captures their attention.
Principle #4. Be a Voice
If you have something to say and nobody’s listening, write. Someday, someone will read you. While this personal quote applies more to the online landscape, the idea behind it is to not be afraid to make yourself heard.
Why? People love putting a voice behind a name. It’s true. When you become a voice, you are more than noise. A noise will just get you out of the invisible mode. A voice will create an effect: people start engaging with you more than just out of courtesy.
How? Speak up and offer solutions to real problems. Ask the community how you can help using your skills. Don’t be afraid to mentor, even if you don’t have the experience. Tip for offline: take some charisma coaching or public speaking lessons. It will make a difference!
Here’s How I Do It
a) Online. After becoming a noise, I move to becoming a voice. I regularly engage and participate in the community, by paying attention to the members’ needs and problems. My answers will always be tips, pieces of advice or recommendations. The end result: I solve problems and I make people smile.
b) Offline. I mentor people. University students, accelerator startups, freelancers (top rated or beginners). Entrepreneurs. Solo-preneurs. Managers. Doesn’t matter. I mentor them all. Not one on one, but as a whole group. I mentor groups inside the community.
Principle #5. Be THE VOICE
My words become my power and my wisdom becomes my tool of trade. That’s the only truth to it.
Why? Being THE VOICE means being a LEADER and assuming responsibility. With power comes great responsibility. This is where you are in full control. You’ve learned. You’ve grown into a great thought leader. Now own it!
How? Human to human. Make it personal. This is the moment where you go from small groups to big audiences and to one-on-ones. Big audiences will help you capture their hearts. One-on-one mentoring sessions will give you the case studies you need to assess your power and expertise.
Here’s How I Do It
a) Online. I organize or get invited by other influencers and join webinars, online conferences, blabs, hangouts, Twitter chats. This allows me to explore not just the community I’m actively part of, but other communities as well. The end result is gradually building my own community that grows around my personal brand.
b) Offline. I do one-on-one coaching sessions and mentoring sessions. Besides that, I enjoy traveling to other countries to connect and meet other influential people. And that;s mainly because networking in your own country isn’t enough when you are building an international personal brand. Last but not least, I enjoy bringing my online connections to the offline. Simply because I can!
Bottom line: once you are already invited as a speaker to events, both online and offline; once you are wanted as part of the audience of major events; once people start recognizing you – that’s when you have a strong personal brand.
Use these five principles wisely everywhere you go. Take them with you. Teach them to others. Integrate them into your own personal branding strategy. Be consistent. Be smart. Do business with a smile. Your sky is the limit, fly beyond that, and dare to be the best version of yourself!