Whatever business you are in and whatever entrepreneurial aspirations you might have, the importance of personal branding cannot be understated. Raising your profile, getting more media recognition and getting more people to talk about you when you are not in the room are all part of the personal branding portfolio. Never before has it been more important for business owners to realise that they are part of their brand if not the main element of their brand. But how does personal branding work? And how can we make it more effective?
Here are ten simple steps to help anyone who wishes to improve on their level of personal branding as part of their overall career journey.
Step One – Who Am I?
The first step of the personal branding process is to ask yourself a very important and very deep question as you first need to know everything about yourself in order to understand how personal branding works. To do this we need to start by ‘looking inside’ of ourselves to really understand ourselves better. It may be that we somehow need to reinvent or recreate ourselves in order to maximise our chances of career success. But until we know ourselves more intimately we cannot be sure. So what we need to do is to reflect, contemplate and incubate our ideas about who we are in order to find the best of ourselves. For once we really understand who we are in terms of our key skills, talents and knowledge we can then ask ourselves a very important question: ‘What can I now do with these insights into myself’? So, before taking any specific actions in relation to personal branding you really need to do the necessary ‘inner work’ to identify your core self and your core skills. This is because you need to be very clear about what you offering and who you are before you start telling the world about your amazing business. In essence you are embarking on a journey to put yourself ‘on the map’. And part of that journey is to ‘find your amazing’ i.e. what makes you stand out from the crowd. It is only by knowing who we are that we can start to take the right actions to get to the right destination and arrive where we want to arrive. And it all starts with knowing who we truly are.
Step Two – What Do I Want To Be Known For?
What is it inside you that the world needs to know about you? We all have a unique personality shaped by our personal history and our our upbringing. We have all developed our own way of ‘being’ based on our interests, hobbies, skills and talents etcetera. In some cases we may have so many different facets to our character that it is hard to define the most important elements. When it comes to personal branding however, we really do need to be very clear about what we have to offer to the world and why the world needs to know about us. It is all about finding our true ‘passion’ and then harnessing it. Once we are clear about all the different components that makes up what we have to offer we then need to start focusing on a single dominant offering – even if it is supported by other sub components. This highest level key offering needs to be specified very clearly before you share it with the wider world though. In other words, your task is to identify your niche.
Step Three – Identify Your Niche
Once you have clearly identified your niche – your prime USP (Unique Selling Proposition) you will then be ready to start identifying and attracting your prime target audience. But this is not always as easy as you might think. It is quite likely that you will need to narrow down your target audience even more. For example, if your audience are primarily women, then you also need to consider what type of women you are trying to attract. Are they mainly professional career women? Are they entrepreneurs? Are they women wanting to make significant life changes? These subtle distinctions can often be more important than you might think and ‘knowing your audience’ and how they will respond to your niche offering, is of critical importance. It is essential to get it right.
Step Four – Networking
The next step in your personal branding is the search for ‘like-minded’ communities in order to expand your network of useful contacts. Once you know what sort of communities your target audience belong to and subscribe to then it is time to actively start networking. You will need to get yourself actively involved with the right networks – both face to face and online. If necessary you can even set up your own network but be sure to check first that you have something different or unique to offer. Slowly, momentum will build, and very soon you will get to know a lot of the right people and they will get to know you.
Step Five – Create a Website
As your profile becomes more well known, people will want to know more about you and your services. So it is important to be properly prepared. Make sure you always have good quality business cards available and, even more importantly, a good website. Personal branding is all about being able to give everyone a link to your work because that link represents who you are and what you have to offer. A good eye-catching and professional website is crucially important. It is your shopfront to sell both yourself and your business.
Step Six – Weekly Newsletters
Once your website is up and running there is no time to be complacent. To stay ahead of the game your business needs to offer your public a constant call to action. A weekly or bi- weekly newsletter is always a good idea to keep your audience constantly updated about all your activities. Ideally, you will also need to consider e-mail marketing, special offers on publications or talks and regular interesting and informative blogs and V-logs.
Step Seven – Practice Public Speaking
Taking the time to learn the art of public speaking can be a real business booster. You may have heard the phrase, ‘If you want to empower yourself get a microphone’ and there is certainly a lot of truth in this statement. If you are a natural introvert the time may have come to crawl out of your shell and face the world. A huge part of personal branding is having the confidence to talk openly about what you do and who you are. Over time this raises your profile as well as your self-confidence and can actually be very enjoyable and financially rewarding. Whatever your business might be it is essential that you have the charisma and the confidence to stand up in front of a crowd and sell both your product and your credibility with passion.
Step Eight – Create More Visibility
As well as public speaking you will also need to become more visible on social media too. Over recent years social media has grown from a hobbyist niche market to a global force in the world of marketing, public relations and as a prime sales tool. Like it or loathe it you cannot afford to ignore it. It is a vast and powerful platform to sell both yourself and your products. But it doesn’t just stop there. If you are serious about growing your personal brand then you will need to get exposure in other forms of media too. This might include writing magazine articles and regular blogs. You may also want to be featured in magazine interviews or be seen in a newspaper or on radio and TV. There are countless opportunities out there if you have the courage and stamina to go out and find them. All these things serve to raise your profile and your personal brand.
Step Nine – Write a Book
One of the foremost ways of immediately raising your profile in a very public way is by writing a book that is focused on your area of expertise. Your book should be based on your unique niche market offering or product and it needs to be well presented, rigorously edited and well marketed. But try to avoid fictional works. Your book needs to authentically represent what you do and who you are and it is the perfect platform to launch your brand. Don’t forget to have an e-book version too.
Step Ten – Consistency
Last, but by no means least, you need to be constantly consistent in order to be visible. Don’t let yourself disappear. Be out there. By consistently focusing on growing your brand through public speaking, book promotions, Vlogs, magazine articles and networking etc. You will soon become known and respected for what you do. Remember, it is not just about creating visibility, it is mainly about maintaining visibility. These are all powerful ways of boosting your personal brand and having a strong, growing business. These things are not hard to do, but they do require tenacity, focus and consistency. The message is clear; stay on track, be authentic, be consistent, grow your brand.
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About Mirela Sula
Mirela Sula has worked in media and education for the last 20 years and has speaking experience all around the world. Her background takes in psychology and counselling, journalism, teaching, coaching, women’s rights and media training. Mirela is CEO and the founder of Global Woman Magazine and Global Woman Club.