10 Steps To Creating A Powerful Personal Brand
Guest Author: Ben Baker
What is a Powerful Personal Brand and why do you need one? Simply put, if you can understand, codify and communicate your brand effectively, you can gain influence through trust.
Branding is not about what you think about yourself, but instead, what others think about you when you are not in the room. In the end, it is about getting the right people to listen, helping them to understand your value to them and enabling them to engage.
Branding is not just for sales and marketing; it is for everyone. We all need to sell ourselves and demonstrate the value of our point of view, in a way that others will listen to and hopefully agree with. The list below is designed to give you some tools to help you along that journey.
Know your audience: Before you do anything else, understand exactly who your audience is and what their issues or problems are. If you cannot solve their problem, or influence them in a way that benefits them, they are probably not your audience. Too many people think that everyone is their audience. That everyone can use their product or service or cares about the same things, they do. They do not! People come in all shapes and sizes, with different points of views and different belief structures. If you do not understand what motivates them, specifically, you have no chance of bringing them around to your point of view.
Understand where you came from: Too many people ignore their past. “It is over and done, why should I worry about it?” so the saying goes. Not true! You may not be able to do anything about it, but you can certainly learn from it. Our past influenced our present which will help shape our future. Therefore, if you do not understand your past, you are already in trouble. Evaluate the experiences that have shaped you over time. The things you have done, the people you have met and even the opportunities you have not taken advantage of. Start asking WHY did things happen the way they did and WHAT can I learn from them? The trick is to learn from our experiences, not just lament that things did not go the way you wanted them to. Each experience that you have gone through will have taught you something, even if it is “I don’t want to do that again!” Understand, evaluate, modify behavior, and move on. It is a recipe that will allow you to constantly improve and help you empathize with others.
Be empathetic: Empathy is not a dirty word, and it certainly does not mean that you need to always sympathize with people. Empathy, in its truest sense, is understanding ideas and situations from another person’s point of view. Realizing that the people that you engage with are coming to the conversation with their own sets of hopes, fears, desires, aspirations, and prejudices. It does not mean that you have to believe everything that they say, nor agree with their point of view. However, you do need to acknowledge that their viewpoints are theirs and they have the right to believe what they believe, due to the experiences and lessons that have brought them to this place and time.
Listen more than you speak: Two ears, one mouth. . . you were probably built this way for a reason. If you take the time to listen to others, you will be amazed at what you might find out. Commonalities, shared goals, shared vision, and clues as to how you can help them solve their current issues. People with Powerful Personal Brands listen! They are constantly looking to understand others and find ways that they can be of service. Having a Powerful Personal Brand is achieved through servitude, not self-platitudes.
Understand your goals: Goals are important things for everyone to have. I suggest that people have short term, long term (3-5 years) and then Big Hairy Audacious Goals. The first two are obvious, but make sure you write them down. A goal that is not written down and not spoken about publically is merely a dream. A goal is actionable and you must either hold yourself accountable to them or have people in your life that will hold you accountable to them. The Big Hairy Audacious Goals are your stretch goals. Those aspirations you have that you may never achieve, but you are going to give it your best effort to get there. I want to be on stage speaking to 10,000+ people, and I want my book to sell 100,000+ copies. Those are the goals that I have written down, and those are the goals that I am pursuing. Your goals may be loftier than mine, or maybe not, but it does not matter, they are your goals. . . go achieve them!
Be consistent: Nothing is a brand killer more than inconsistency. How you speak, how you act, what you write, how you present yourself and how you engage both on and offline, say EVERYTHING about you! As the expression goes “image is everything,” and I am not just speaking about your looks. Realize that how you engage people across mediums forms their opinion of you. A classic example in business is the company that states emphatically that customer service is their priority, and then consistently keep you on hold for 30-45 minutes. Don’t be that person! Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you tell someone you will follow up with them in a certain amount of time, do it! This is critical, even if it means telling them that you do not have the answers yet, but this is what you are doing to get them.
Maybe image is everything: To go along with consistency, make sure wherever you present your image, whether it is a logo, or a headshot, that it is consistent, professional and shows you at your best. Use the same headshot and tagline throughout your social media. That way, if someone is following you on Twitter and they want to find you on LinkedIn, they don’t have to comb through 2000 John or Jane Does in order to find the right one. If the image is consistent, they know that they have found the person they are looking for right away.
Know your passions: Know what you are passionate about and why it is important! Knowing what you believe is right, what you believe is wrong, what you will fight for and what you will fight against defines who you are. We all have lines in the sand that we will not cross. Yours is different from mine, and that is okay, it is your line. Stick by it and be able to articulate WHY you believe WHAT you believe.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses: There is nothing wrong with being weak in certain areas. No one is perfect in everything, and none of us should even try to be. There are things you do well and things. . . no so much. Embrace your strength, understand your weaknesses and find people who have strengths, where you are weak and make allies. Concentrating your time and effort on working on your weaknesses is time ill-spent. Celebrate your strengths and move on. If you need help with this, I suggest a book called Strengths Finder 2.0. You can either take the test online, or you can purchase the book, and the test is available as an online code at the back of the book. It is time and money well spent.
Have a story to tell: It is important to know your story. We all have one, and it is that story that helps us connect with others. A personal brand story tells people simply and concisely who you are, what your passions are, what you believe and your goals. It is a way to let people identify with you through them understanding more about you. Just remember a good story is simple, actionable and relatable. It is not just a series of facts, times and dates. It gives people insight into how you think and the times of your life that best taught you the lessons you have learned. Simple to say, harder to do, but so worth it.
About the author: Ben Baker is president and CEO of Your Brand Marketing
I help brands to stop being a commodity and become a brand worth loving!
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