I hear it all the time:
“How do I build a more effective personal brand?”
There are a couple of things wrong with that question. For starters, it’s incomplete. We should ask instead, what does “effective” mean to us? Is it improved networking? Increasing your bottom line? Becoming famous? What is it that you actually want to gain from your personal brand?
Next, the question itself suggests personal branding is something that should guarantee a heavy return on investment, and likely as quickly as possible. But a personal brand is meant to serve as a representation of you, your strengths, knowledge, and expertise. Positioning yourself the right way takes time—a lot of time.
The good thing is, people are asking the question. The majority of the business world is starting to see the value in personal branding—they just don’t know the right way to go about it.
Fortunately, there are a few universal truths that work toward building an effective personal brand, regardless how you define effective.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Provide real value on a regular basis.
Most people who want to build out their personal brand understand content creation and distribution is crucial to the process.
It’s obvious by just how much content is out there already.
However, you can’t expect to be successful publishing random, useless content. And the fact of the matter is, most people publish useless content. Simply being ‘active’ isn’t going to make your brand any more distinguishable than the next person’s.
What you put out needs to actually benefits viewers. You need to take everything you know and give it to people for free. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time trying to brand yourself.
Besides, if all you’re doing is hitting like, share, like, share, like, share, what are people going to think of your ‘brand’? Is it a place people can go, and walk away having learned something new? Or is it a mecca of useless spam?
Remember: this is your brand. If you want people to view you as intelligent, creative, hard-working, that needs to be reflected in your content.
Use your personal experiences to teach—that’s what makes content valuable. People like Gary Vaynerchuk prove that teaching is the most effective way to build an audience and a loyal brand following. Don’t believe me? Look at his social profiles. They’re littered with insights, advice, and authentic opinions.
If you’re having trouble thinking of how to provide value, talk about mistakes made, lessons learned, or share your expertise on a topic. Find conversations on Quora or LinkedIn you can join, and add your two cents. Talk about a pain point in the industry you’re marketing your brand to.
Then, do it regularly.
That’s the most important aspect: if you want the value you’re providing to stick, and for people to think highly of your brand, you need to be consistent. You’re not going to brand yourself as the “go-to” anything if you don’t stay top-of-mind.
One insightful article isn’t going to cut it. You need to be giving on a regular basis.
2. Be unapologetically authentic.
Considering everyone is unique, and has their own voice, skills, expertise, opinions, and experiences, you’d think personal brands are inherently authentic.
You know how when you’re meeting someone new for the first time your persona tidies up and you’re a bit more reserved than usual?
That’s what most people’s personal brands are like: bland, uncompelling, surface-level content. And the worst part is, it’s all the same. Everyone puts on their “professional” faces in public, and wouldn’t dare push any boundaries.
Again, Gary Vee is a great example. Love him or hate him, Gary is unapologetically himself. That’s how he separated himself as a marketer, salesman, creator, speaker, thinker.
Sure he’s loud and swears like a truck driver, but that’s what people are attracted to. Not necessarily the loudness or the swearing, but the authenticity of Gary Vee. That’s what makes him his personal brand—and what made VarynerMedia a hundred million dollar company.
People are attracted to authenticity.
We crave what’s real, what’s raw—and we’re unimpressed by anything less.
And when something is surface-level, we don’t bother wasting our attention on it. There’s more content produced per day they we can consume in an entire lifetime. If we don’t connect with something on an emotional level, we’re going to skip right over it.
Be transparent. At the end of the day, transparency always wins.
That’s why people like Gary Vee are able to turn personal brands into full-fledged companies.
Not enough people understand this completely, but many are finally starting to realize it: The more authentic you are, the more likely you’ll stand out.