If you have a personal branding, you no longer required to have a resume. Well, I am sure some of you are experiencing this now. They would just grab your profile somewhere if they want to invite you to speak at their events. In most cases, they’ll get it either from your LinkedIn or personal website which information is easily accessible.
When I started to build my version of personal branding a few years ago, I used these 10 questions as a guideline to ensure that the journey to the top will go smoothly. Not only that, these questions also helped me to establish my value proposition to the market. Let’s have a look at those questions.
What are you fighting for? The most obvious question people will ask themselves when they see your profile somewhere on the web or social media posting is the thing that you are fighting for. What the heck are you fighting for? They will try to understand the purpose of your journey without having to pose a question to you directly. At first, they’ll be clueless but along the way, they would then understand based on your content’s words and sentences chosen and the message you’re sharing in it. You must be clear about what you are fighting for. For my case, I am fighting for the freelancers, solopreneurs, small business owners and SMEs out there, equipping them with knowledge on all-things-marketing. I produce easy-to-understand and practical opinion-based tips and tricks through article writing, infographic designs, posters and short video production. Many of them aren’t from the marketing and advertising industry so these efforts would help them a lot.
What is your expertise? While you are working along to share what you’re fighting for, you must also insert your expertise with it. Display clearly which area you are very good at within your subject. Make sure the message really goes across and the audience understand what you’re doing. Besides producing content and posting them on social media, you must also be able to answer questions coming from your audience convincingly. Ensure that they are satisfied with the answer you’re giving them. Respond to inquiries and questions as quick as possible. These are the ways to elevate your authority on the subject.
Who is your target audience? This is a group of people who are your potential followers, community members and paid customers. In my case, my target audience is the freelancers, solopreneurs, small business owners, SME marketing professionals and companies’ CEO. I make sure I earn their trust with my content. Then the following part will be easier.
Why must those people out there come and be part of your journey? When you’re building your personal brand, you need to be part of their community. You are on their side, with them. Slowly turn that community into your community, and no longer theirs but yours. You need to make them part of your community. You need to make them follow you. How? By positioning yourself as their resource centre. Share beneficial information, tips, tactics or something within your expertise that they will find it useful. Indirectly you need to tell them that hey, without me this whole thing isn’t going to work and I am the one and only person who can deliver this to you. I am the only one who can help you. There you go. This is your value proposition. This is your answer to their question, why must we follow you?
How do you create a voice of your own in your existing crowded industry? It’s crowded everywhere. Each industry has its own iconic individuals, experts, people who’ve made it and so on. There is no way you can be there sitting alongside those people ever. You’re just a nobody. Well, let me remind you that it may be true in the physical world. But if you can bring people’s attention online, you can be anything you want. This is how I create mine. I have a voice in the Marketing industry although it is not that ‘loud’. How do you know that you have a voice? You’ll know it when there are invitations from organisations for you to contribute something either to speak at the event, moderate a forum, contribute articles, become advisors and the best part is getting projects that you didn’t even bid. How’s that?
Is your story authentic enough and beneficial to people? People just hate receiving advice all the time. It’s just not cool. They get a lot of advice at home, in the office, while on LinkedIn, from HR people, everywhere. I feel the same way too. My method for this is to share stories via storytelling. I prefer to share the information rather than telling them what to do. That’s why my way of storytelling is more towards conversational and casual. I don’t use terms people hardly understand. I use a very simple English. I’d absorb all those funny words when reading and then converting them into easy-to-understand sentences when I’m writing. Most of these reading, observation and experience aren’t coming from copy-and-paste work. This is how I create authenticity. People can easily relate to these stories. When this happens, they’ll learn new things about Marketing.
Are you ready to become a content generator, consistently? You need to produce content on the daily basis. If can’t then do it weekly. Without content, you may have a problem in repeating your branding message for the world to see. Your brand is one, and your message is one too. Thus you need a different type of content materials to share the message out. You can either using texts or visuals for it. With multiple types of content, you can repeat, repeat and repeat the same message without making your audience bored. One good thing about being a Marketer is that I can write quite well. To me, this is the plus point, a distance advantage that I have those other marketers are struggling. From writing, I managed to get the articles converted into infographics. I can even get it converted into a set of posters as well. From the same article, I can repurpose to become a storyboard for a video. This is how I produce my content. I do it regularly week-in-week-out and distribute them on all my social channels. With content, people begin to trust me.
How do you plan to handle visibility? When your personal branding is beginning to get positive tractions from the market, your profile will be visible to certain people. Your website and social media begin to receive regular visitors and slowly you will notice that you have strong supporters behind you. Whatever you do or say, they will drop by and like or comment on your posting. Visibility is always good for business. To handle it, there are three ways and you can choose any of these. The first way, you become an attention seeker person. You go to all events, putting up selfies all the time, showcase your professional life (and face) to your audience all the time and snap up pictures when you’re on stage with microphones talking to people. Second, you hardly snap pictures of you, no selfies, don’t showcase whatever activities you’re doing but you let the content speaks on your behalf. In other words, you regularly post your content out. And the third and final way, you work on a hybrid model. You need to balance your self-promotion and content distribution activities the right way. For me, I prefer the second one and so far it works pretty well towards my advantage.
Do you have a personal website? You need a place to park your professional profile and other background details to strengthen your branding authority. The worst strategy that you can do is to park your professional profile on Facebook, Twitter and other social media without any link back to your own personal website. Since those social media channels are full of personal friends, the impact won’t be that strong. By having your personal website, with your name attached to it as a domain, this alone will establish a great first impression on the audience. Imagine having your own personal domain in your email signature, business card, presentation deck and other types of content, people will look at you highly as someone with exceptional credentials. Ensure all information at your About Us section is properly filled, having the right personal logo or high-resolution photo of you to push your personal branding to not only stand out but also creating business opportunity.
Are you on LinkedIn? If you’re not on LinkedIn, then it is about time to register yourself there as a member. You do not know what you’re missing. LinkedIn is a platform where almost all professionals are hanging out at online. Some call it as the ultimate social networking channel for professionals. You need to build your professional network and followers here. Connect with business communities too. You can find yourself attached to product importers, digital marketers, top CEOs who are friendly and even fresh graduates who are keen to learn from you. Since 2013, I spend no less than 10 hours a day on LinkedIn. I created friendships, a network of followers, business partners and most of all esteemed customers along the way. I generated consistent revenues out of LinkedIn and my website. I received invitations to write for well-known publications out of LinkedIn too. Did I mention about handling two global events this year? These two offers were originated from LinkedIn and from my website respectively. So, if you want to speed up your personal branding process and make it to the top earlier than expected, play your LinkedIn game well. While it’s free.
A quick summary for you to ponder. Without a personal branding, you are nothing more than just a commodity. There is nothing special about it. You want your professional profile to stand out? Well, to stand out from the rest, you need a personal branding for that. To stay relevant in the industry, you need a personal branding for that too. To secure a job or a business deal, you also need to have a personal branding my friend. Living in the internet era isn’t as easy as you think. You are living in the most competitive era ever, where people are fighting with each another for a piece of something in the name of survivability.
A word of caution. Swing all your followers and connections to your website, and never ever rely on any social media platform. By relying too much on those social media channels, you’re allowing them to hold your balls down there. They can choke you up whenever they want to, and that is bad for health. Control your followers directly from the website, it’s free and direct. You are in charge.
LinkedIn, never rely on it 100 percent. Many digital marketers confidently recommend utilising LinkedIn fully for personal branding. They claimed to have found success either by annual revenues and the number of views they’re getting for their LinkedIn profile. While many of these are making sense, however, this strategy will face a major problem when LinkedIn somewhere in the future decided to limit your presence there if you’re on free subscription. When this happens, your personal branding will get stuck. LinkedIn will make you purchase the premium version one day when you’re cornered and you have to oblige as there is nowhere to turn to. This is what happened when Facebook quietly decided to make you pay for traffic. Look at Facebook now, no organic growth whatsoever unless you pay. You want to play, you pay. I personally believe that one day LinkedIn will be heading this way.
In the world of social media, nothing is free. And those available freemium that you’re enjoying now is just temporary.