Everyone is talking about their personal brand and why it’s important, but it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what your personal brand is. Does it happen when you create your professional website? After you reach a certain number of Instagram followers? When you land your first TEDTalk? There are no easy answers. And while you know you need to market yourself, you may not know the right way to do so.
The key is to understand the difference between marketing and branding. Marketing is what you say about yourself; branding is what other people say about you. If this sounds like your personal brand is essentially your professional reputation, you’re mostly right. Ideally, your key messages align with your unique offerings — and people what those are.
Personal brand marketing involves a fine balance between self-promotion and impression management. Here’s how to make the two work together.
Put Yourself Out There
Most personal branding gurus advise that you make yourself as visible as possible — in a good way. That means cutting back on the party pics and political posts on social media and focusing on making a splash in professional venues and events. However, in the COVID-19 era, you’re probably not pounding the pavement or attending conferences. How can you network and promote yourself when you’re stuck at home? Start using social media in a more professional capacity. Post content that speaks to your key messages and skills, and engage with people in professional spaces such as LinkedIn and Facebook networking groups.
Be Real and Accessible
People love seeing pics of your meals, babies, and pets. We’re all human, and people respond strongly to posts that offer glimpses into someone else’s life. While you may have been advised to keep the personal and professional separate, a strategic blend of daily-life posts and overt promotional posts works well. Your target audience is more likely to trust you if they get a sense of who you are — and no one likes to see an endless stream of promotional content.
Know Your Stuff
People can sniff out inauthenticity within seconds. If you’re trying to develop your personal brand by being the type of person you think others want you to be, you’re probably taking the wrong approach. You shouldn’t change yourself for others; be yourself and your ideal clients will come to you. By the same token, don’t be afraid to let your expertise shine. People respond well to those who demonstrate thought leadership, so make sure that your marketing stems from your knowledge rather than trying to speak about “hot topics” that you know little about.
Find Your Niche
Ever heard the expression “jack of all trades, master of none”? When you’re multi-talented, it’s tempting to want to leverage all your skills to build your personal brand, but that can make you seem insincere or scattered. Choose a specific subset of your skills and a specific target audience who will benefit from them. Then, market yourself on that basis. You’ll set yourself apart from other talented people and be better able to connect with your ideal clients.
Personal brand marketing is most effective when you achieve a balance between promoting your business and letting people see the real you. Think carefully about the messages you want to share with people and how you want them to perceive you. Then, put yourself out there as that persona. When you start showing up consistently as the uniquely talented person you are, you’ll quickly establish a strong personal brand.
Need help refining your personal brand and demonstrating your thought leadership? Free Ring Circus offers content strategy, copywriting, and ghostwriting services to help you #TellYourBestStory. Reach out to us today!