Personal branding is about communication. Sending a message is easier today than at any point in human history. It’s fast, efficient, and (mostly) free. The Internet and social media allow us to connect with like-minded people around the globe. We can discover talented people, learn from industry experts, and share insights we’ve gained. The scale of it all can be overwhelming if you try to jump in without a plan. This post aims to help you gain comfort as you start your journey into personal branding.
I’ll start with a confession. I’m new at this. I don’t have years of experience with social media marketing. I’ve never been a blogger with thousands of subscribers, and I just finally surpassed 100 followers on Twitter.
So, why am I writing about this? Well, I think you can benefit from my experience of just getting started. The lessons I’ve learned are fresh and relevant. If you’re reading this, you’re connecting with me, and I am my brand. That’s the real point here. If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: Your brand is you.
What is a personal brand?
You are already building a personal brand. Every time you interact with someone, you are communicating your brand. These interactions (both word and deed) establish expectations for others. Given time and consistency, people will grow more and more comfortable that they can trust you to meet their expectations. That trust is the most powerful outcome of building a brand. The definition of a personal brand, then, is “a consistent set of expectations held toward you”.
Build the foundation first
The relative ease of electronic communication allows us to interact with greater frequency and reach every day. That is, at once, a wonderful and frightening reality. Before we dive in to using the web for personal branding, we need to establish a firm foundation. This will be the basis that helps us achieve the consistency we seek. Without it, our communication on the Internet will only serve to confuse our audience.
- Understand yourself first. This is about communicating who you are. You cannot build a brand by pretending you are someone you are not. Know yourself. Be yourself. All the time.
- Communicate with people. Before you start using the Internet to build your brand, realize that there are real people on the other end of all those connections. Act accordingly.
- Consistency begins at home. Remember the definition of a personal brand. Don’t let the Internet craft your message for you. Be who you are at home first.
- Appreciate persistence. What you say on the Internet can exist forever. This is not a simple warning. It means new people can engage with you all the time. That’s powerful.
- Practice appropriate cadence. You may be tempted to share a flood of ideas with people right away. That’s natural. Building a brand, though, is a marathon. Pace yourself and be consistent.
- Seek connection, not metrics. Another temptation is to track your success against a number (like Twitter followers). Don’t fall in the trap. Remember, you are connecting with people.
- This is not a broadcast. Building a brand is a two-way street. You’re establishing expectations. Do you want people to expect to be “talked at”?
As the title of this post says, personal branding is simple, not easy. There are only a few steps required to start building a consistent set of expectations. Those steps aren’t easy, though. You have to be ready for the answers you find as you examine yourself. You have to be intentional about consistency. You are going to need to apply faith and hustle. Are you ready?