“We can no longer continue to operate in this linear B2B / B2C world when it comes to business. People buy people and all relationships are human to human,” Sallee Poinsette-Nash.
Businesses invest a lot of money in brand building – they try to act like people, develop values, personalities and a purpose. Breaking news: You have the advantage - you are a person! You already have a tone of voice, stories and messages to share with the world. All you have to do is figure out how to make your 'human brand' and your audience come together to create the impact you're looking for in your life or in your career.
If you're thinking about building a meaningful and authentic personal brand, don't focus on the numbers – the number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn post likes, blog subscribers. They certainly have their place, but you won't find meaning in the metrics! Instead, focus on how you can deliver so much value in a niche that people will begin to associate your name with that industry, cause or topic; giving you the platform from which to amplify the difference you’d like to make in the world.
Shaping a personal brand is not generating an identity for yourself and it’s not looking for what makes you different from others. You’re already the proud owner of both things. A personal brand incorporates everything centred around you and your public image - on paper, on the internet, and in person. It showcases who you are and what matters to you. Sharing your story (the real life one not a constructed one) is enough to differentiate you from others and by communicating with your audience of choice, you’ll be able to deliver maximum value with minimum effort.
When you look at everything you are - your name, your job, your story - you can only go so far but when you push through any limitations that those things may have created and look at all you can be, that's where transformation happens.
Not sure where to start? Here eight easy steps that you can use as a guide…
1. TELL YOUR STORY
No-one has had the exact same collection of experiences as you have. No-one else views life through your eyes. Your story and unique perspective is what differentiates you from every single one of the seven billion + people who live on our planet today.
2. THINK PURPOSEFUL POSITIONING
By positioning your message somewhere between where you are today and where you’re aiming to be, you can accelerate the speed of your journey and attract new opportunities, collaborations and connections that align with your bigger vision.
3. OWN YOUR CRAFT
Building a brand takes time. You need to make a commitment to being as good at your 'thing' as you can be and start owning your area of expertise or focus. Could you be the next voice of your industry? Can you become known in your field? Absolutely, any of us can if that’s what we’re aiming for!
4. DELIVER VALUE
Figure out who your audience are and provide as much value to people (in the public domain) as you can because everything stems from there. By focusing on the value you’re delivering, the returns will take care of themselves and manifest in the most surprising ways.
5. FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Find one social platform - one that the majority of your audience use. Collaborate with online platforms, like Startups Magazine, which align with your message. Find an offline event or community where you feel like you belong. Then show up – authentically and consistently,with the best content you create and nurture an audience big enough to matter.
Lara Sheldrake, social media strategist, community builder and founder of Found & Flourish says:
“By being part of a community and collaborating with like-minded people, you are forging long-lasting relationships with not only your peers but potential clients. The power of community should never be underestimated.”
The more you show up, the more ‘aligned opportunity’ will find you. Seek out other people who are on the same wavelength, people who also share quality messages and content thenexplore ways to collaborate. We’re always stronger together and competition will never reign over collective effort.
7. BUILD A HOME ONLINE
Once you’ve a grown a social media following, build your personal website or start a blog.This is a space that you own (as opposed to say, LinkedIn) - a shop window where you can showcase your human side. Start with a simple drag and drop site (like Squarespace, Strikingly or Wix) and either use it as a 21st century cv or as the ultimate value add to your audience.
8. LAUNCH YOUR OWN PRODUCTS
Credibility is your motivation here. View products as marketing tools over monetary goalsbut know that you’re creating valuable IP for yourself too. Write a book, design an online course, launch a podcast - these are products that speak on your behalf and add another layer to your public credibility.
Don't just follow these steps once, revisit them over and over again. You are continually evolving and therefore, your personal brand should be doing the same. Keep checking in, refreshing and adapting as you go but most importantly, keep ‘doing’, show up as your authentic self and embrace human connection.
The definition of a brand is ‘a mark’ and as a human brand, you have the opportunity to leave your mark on the world we live in. Becoming known as an individual is a permanent and sustainable advantage that you can create for yourself but remember that you're human - imperfection is perfect, the world needs more of it and when it comes to most things in life, 7/10 is good enough.
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