Last year when polls were all the rage on LinkedIn, someone took a count: What’s the most overused buzzword on LinkedIn? To my unsettling, “personal branding” was the clear winner.
Reading through all 421 comments, I realized there’s a real need to set the record straight: personal branding is not a narcissistic buzzword but rather an impactful way to be real and relatable in service to others.
What *Really* is a Personal Brand and Why Do You Need One?
Much like the differences in the definition of a “brand,” the term “personal brand” has myriad variations, most notably from misunderstandings that primarily come from its usage on social media.
It all started with this 1997 article when the term “personal brand” was first coined but in recent years with the rest of social media usage, the need to define and strengthen our personal brands is at the forefront. Now, a personal brand is no longer a “nice to have” but rather a “need to have” for professionals and entrepreneurs wanting to make a bigger statement in their industries.
Personal Brand and Personal Branding Defined
A personal brand is the essence of who you are and the impression you have in the minds of others. Personal branding is the intentional and strategic process to leverage an individual’s perception for more significant influence and impact It’s important to distinguish between the two as they are not the same.
When done correctly, a personal brand shapes our perception among others and creates awareness and favorable outcomes for our careers, businesses, and professional standing with enhanced visibility, credibility, earned trust, and opportunities.
To quote the internet, or at least its favorite source, Wikipedia,
“Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.“
“Have a larger Impact”— that’s why I’m an advocate for personal brands. If you’re considering stepping out in a much more visible way, here are 7 considerations to grow your impactful personal brand.
Building your personal brand starts with knowing you’re 100 percent ready. It’s a long game, not a one-and-done endeavor that requires a mindset shift that you’re ready to dedicate yourself to the process. However, the payoff is immense — your personal brand is your currency to opportunities beyond measure — personal alignment, industry authority, and greater advantage in work, business, and life.
Lesson: Just like most worthwhile endeavors, building your brand takes time but the worth the payoffs are life-changing for you, for others, and for your community.
Personal brand building is not really about you; it’s about how you can help others. It’s about showing up intentionally to make an impact for those needing what you have to give/sell/serve/do.
By stepping out to help others, you’ll benefit in both your professional and personal endeavors. With this mindset, a burden is lifted when you realize it’s not about being self-serving, but serving others.
Lesson: Personal brands are the real and relatable way to make an impact on the people who need you most.
- Why should I put myself out there?
- Why would people listen to me?
- What do I even have to say?
These are common questions even from the most influential leaders and founders, as well as those just starting out. At some point, we’re all faced with massive uncertainty, relentless imposter syndrome, and the soul-crushing comparison conundrum of social media.
We can’t let it stop us.
If you don’t step out, no one will ever know about you or how you can help them.
You don’t have to be a CEO, influencer, or celebrity, or have years of experience to get out there. YOU are definitely worthy of putting yourself out there and having a personal brand.
Personal branding is a way to differentiate and humanize your business. Your insights, education, skills, and talents are all unique to you and no one else can bring the perspective you do.
Lesson: You have a unique message and valuable expertise to share with people who are out there waiting for you to step out and share it.
If you’re not clear about who you are, what you stand for, and what you do, no one will either.
Too many people, start, struggle and give up as they don’t have clarity in themselves, their audience, their message, and their offers.
My Personal Brand Impact™ blueprint is a three-phase process to discover your purpose, define your presence and develop your platform to launch, grow adn amplify your personal brand.
It starts with your Clarity Trifecta, first with internal clarification of your goals, vision, mission, values, and expertise as well as your personal and professional WHY.
After your internal uncovering, it’s time for external clarification:
- What is your niche/industry?
- Who is your audience?
- What are their psychographics/challenges/desires and needs?
- What problem do I solve?
- How exactly do I solve it?
Finally, professional clarity comes from unlocking your “known-as” unique expertise to communicate and present this in the marketplace
This personal brand deep dive will ensure you’re making an impact as well as building trust, and influence in your personal brand for your career or business.
Lesson: When you don’t take the time for the important foundational work, it’s always going to be a struggle.
Content is at the heart of every personal branding endeavor. One mistake people make is jumping straight into creating content without being clear about themselves and their brands. (see “clarity” above)
Start with a content strategy and schedule that’s based on your goals and your audience’s pain points. Defining one main umbrella topic and 3-5 sub-topics and using content switching (switching up your content formats) keeps your content relevant and engaging. Consistently creating content is the best way to showcase your expertise and establish visibility, credibility, and authority.
Lesson: If you’re internally and externally clear about your personal brand, you’ll fast-track the attention of your ideal audience with your content.
Like all good things, success takes time. You have to keep showing up, even when you don’t feel like it. When you’re not getting instant feedback, don’t give up or give in. Showing up with continuous value will build relationships and long-term trust.
I recommend a solid year of consistently creating content, showing up, and being helpful and valuable to your audience. Well before that, people will see you appreciate you, and reach out to you when they know you’re the real deal.
Lesson: Think of personal branding as compounding interest. Show up regularly and intentionally to be noticed, and known, and see results for others and yourself.
You can’t build a personal brand without people, and it’s ALWAYS about people. Personal brands are not grown alone. Your community — your audience, clients, collaborators, friends, and partners — will be your biggest supporters.
Using a community-first approach will create a ripple effect. The more you connect and help people, the more your brand will grow and impact others.
Start small by simply participating first. Show up and show people you care. It’s as easy as liking or commenting on others’ posts or reaching out to connect or refer someone. Becoming known as a helpful person is the fastest track to growing your community.
Put Yourself Out There and Make Your Unique Mark on the World
When you realize you can and should be developing your personal brand as a way to serve others, it seems less scary, intimidating, and more purposeful.
When done correctly, your personal brand will be impactful: shifting the trajectory of your career, organization, and personal and professional standing. Opportunities and impact come from building your brand, it’s one of the best and biggest investments in yourself, your career, and your business— all by stepping out as YOU.
With so much at stake, isn’t it time you stand out and seek your full potential with your personal brand
Are you ready to step out or doing so now? Let me know below so can follow your journey too.