Are You Investing In Your Personal Brand?

People trust people rather than brands. If you want to be an influencer, it’s imperative to build a personal brand to let the online world know what you stand for, so that they will trust what you share and recommend within your sphere of expertise.

By Andrea Edwards

 

Personal branding and employee advocacy (or social employees) are two ideas you will be hearing a lot about in the coming years. But why is it attracting so much attention right now?

 

According to Gartner, 15 percent of people trust recommendations from brands, while 84 percent trust recommendations from people they know. That’s you, the employee. That’s why you’re so important today.

 

There is no argument that how customers decide and buy has fundamentally shifted. Our customers are online or on social media, discussing options with peers and making decisions beyond a brand’s influence. This is today’s reality and it is turning the world of business upside down.

 

As such, we must change our way of thinking and focus on being part of our customer’s world. As a business and as individuals, we have to be where our customers are; if we’re not, we simply cannot understand the customer of the 21st century.

 

That’s why, as individuals, we must build our personal brands

 

A powerful and professional online presence is a career asset each of us should be maximising and growing. However, building a strong personal brand is not just about engaging on LinkedIn more aggressively; it’s about being very focused, strategic — and it needs planning.

 

A personal brand is also stronger if you align it to the company you work for, because you personally benefit by the association with your brand, and your brand benefits by your intelligent participation on social media. Today, it is very much a two-way street, and an inspired business will value and elevate your involvement on social media.

 

However, there is a lot of cynicism

 

Many people continue to be sceptical about social media professionally, and I completely understand why. There is a lot of noise and self-promotion on LinkedIn and other social channels, which is almost certainly turning you off — you are not alone in feeling this way.

 

Professionals all over Asia agree with this sentiment, which is why we must think about building our professional brands in a really meaningful and compelling way, a way that will achieve great results and — by default — help our companies build business in the region.

 

So what is a personal brand?

 

  • It’s you
  • It’s what you stand for
  • It’s what you believe in
  • It’s how you think
  • It’s how you act
  • It is you packaged up and presented to the online world

 

This is critical today, and truly innovative businesses embrace and prioritise the employee brand above the company brand.

 

What do you want to be known for?

 

Your personal brand should be very focused on what you want to be known for. The best way to get started is to define yourself and your area of expertise. Consider the following questions to set your horizon:

 

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What makes me stand out in a crowd?
  • When I light people up, what am I talking about?
  • What is my expertise? Am I unique in it?
  • What are my core values?
  • What comes easily to me?
  • What do I read about until the early hours of the morning?
  • What do I eagerly get up early for?
  • What do I enjoy?
  • What gives me energy? What feeds my spirit?
  • What do people compliment me on?

 

This is not just a brain exercise; it’s also a heart exercise

 

When you’re representing yourself on social media, you must connect the whole, authentic person. This is why heart is important, as your values must shine through. This is how you stand out in this noisy world, as it will be the authentic people who shine in the midst of the information deluge we are all experiencing.

 

Therefore, we should make sure that we:

 

  • don’t add to the noise
  • become someone of value
  • are focused on being truly connected to our core self
  • are authentic

 

Being clear on what you want to be known for is the best place to start building your personal brand; however, it’s often the last thing professionals do.

 

My personal brand goal is about helping businesses and executives become social leaders in today’s world. I do this by talking and writing about personal branding, employee advocacy, blogging and content marketing. I have always been a communications professional; today, I am extending my expertise into a field I have personally focused on for the past decade. What is your focus?

 

The next step is answering why you are on social media

 

There are many whys, but it is your why that will help you commit to building your personal brand consistently. Without a clear and inspired why, you will not embrace the opportunities presented when you build a personal brand. Here are a few potential whys:

 

  • to be seen as a respected thought leader or visionary
  • to be better connected to customers
  • to be a media influencer
  • to be part of a global discussion
  • to be aligned to other leaders in your field
  • to achieve a different future
  • to chase aspirations or career opportunities within or beyond an existing employer
  • to be known for a passion

 

All these points above are valid, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.

 

In case you’re interested, my why is very clear for me: I believe in the power of social media to fundamentally changed the world and elevate all of humanity. I also believe that social media and content marketing together have the ability to elevate businesses to be more humane, connected and committed to making this world a better place. It’s a big why, but it is what drives me. What drives you?

 

Once you know your why and what you want to be known for, the next step is to only share content that is aligned to your brand. Where you go for knowledge is something you do naturally, because you visit these sites regularly. I recommend subscribing to newsletters from the sites you love and get them to feed you with awesome content. Just ask yourself:

 

  • What will I likely read today?
  • What online resources do I use?
  • What sites do I love?
  • What business sites do I follow?

 

Business thought leadership content examples include:

 

 

Here are some thought-provoking sites:

 

 

Industry sites (marketing, sales, etc)

 

 

Don’t forget your company content sites. Where are they? Do you already visit often and share the content? Additionally, social media is an excellent content curation source. I am always curating content on social channels and sharing immediately or saving for later. With curation on social media, the quality of information you find is dependent on the quality of the people, companies and organisations you follow — which is why you need to make the investment to follow the best of the best, especially on LinkedIn.

 

Find one to five sites that are aligned to your personal brand and share this content daily. But please… always, always add your opinion and do not just share a link. Always tell people why you are sharing the information. When people just share a link, they are missing an opportunity to provide value to their community; in this age of information deluge, you must never miss an opportunity to add value and enlighten your community.

 

The world is definitely at a crossroads right now. Big corporations are starting to appreciate that the most important asset they have are their employees; as we mentioned in the beginning of this article, people trust people rather than brands in this socially engaged world.

 

Is your company determined to get ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition? Even if they aren’t, why let it stop you? They’ll catch up to you eventually and, by then, you’ll be well established and of even more value to your brand.

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