Building your profile or creating a personal brand may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you’ve ever been told that you need a personal brand or that you’d be great in the media, you’re not alone.
As someone who has worked with and interviewed former political leaders, rich-listers and high-profile entrepreneurs, I can tell you that there is one thing that ties most of them together — becoming famous was never their goal.
They started their businesses to solve a problem, and realised along the way how creating a personal brand could help build awareness, trust and credibility in their business.
While many of them aren’t the best writers or speakers, they recognised that a strong personal brand is a business tool that helps you stand apart from the competition and so they committed to learning the skills required.
If you’re building a business of any sort, it’s important to build your own personal brand.
So how do you go about it?
Understand what makes you unique, and how it relates to your business
Your personal brand is your secret sauce. It’s the reason why you started your business, it’s the value you bring to your organisation, and it’s what sets you apart from your competitors.
Many founders or business leaders don’t take the time to understand and value what it is that makes them so unique, but this is where you should start.
What I find helpful is setting aside some quiet time, to write down some points about why you started the business, what you’re passionate about and what you want to be known for, and then thinking about how it fits into your overall business communications strategy.
We do this early on when working with a new client and the process can be really illuminating as these topics are something that aren’t given much consideration or thought.
If you’re feeling a little stuck you could ask a colleague or someone you trust to ask these questions of you via a call or in-person chat, record it and play it back to capture the key points.
It’s not unusual to go through this process a few times, each time building on what you’ve learnt to refine your message.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
One of the biggest things holding people back from building a personal brand is worrying about what others think.
It’s a fear I’ve seen many times both in clients and myself.
When people used to ask me why I wasn’t in front of the camera doing an interview or sharing my knowledge, my immediate reaction was, “oh no, I’m just the publicist, I’m strictly behind the camera”.
Then, about three years ago, I realised that I was advising our clients on brand building and PR but not taking any of that advice myself.
What was holding me back? It was my own fear of what people would say if I said something wrong, stuffed up on camera, or made a mistake in public.
From there, I made the decision to take on my own fears and started investing in some of the things we work with clients on, like understanding my unique offer and undertaking media training.
Fast forward a few years later, and I challenged myself again by launching my own podcast, Influence Unlocked.
Everyone starts somewhere, and the only way to learn is to try.
You will probably make a few mistakes along the way, but learn who you can trust to give you constructive feedback and just go for it.
Put yourself out there using the three Cs
As Bill Gates famously said, “content is king”, but content alone is not enough when it comes to delivering a highly reputable, stand-out personal brand.
You need what I think of as the three Cs: creation, content and commitment.
The first, creation, is all about coming up with ideas that connect your personal brand with your business.
Start brainstorming topics that relate to your range of expertise and what you stand for and think about how you might turn those ideas into social media posts, thought leadership articles or other content.
For bonus points, keep an eye on the media headlines and think about how you could offer an expert opinion on the news of the day.
Next up is content. Content has such a broad definition these days and it’s not just about the written word any more.
Still, writing is not a bad place to begin when you’re starting out. If long-form writing isn’t your thing, then maybe you can start by looking at the content you post on your social channels, or maybe create some short-form videos if that’s your preference.
Which brings me to the last of the three Cs: commitment. In short, this means that without execution, content is meaningless.
You can have the best ideas and produce incredible content, but without a commitment to a regular process of creation and publication, you are just wasting your time.
A lot of time and energy goes into building a personal brand, so if it’s something you’re interested in exploring then start small and see what feels comfortable for you and resonates with your audience.
Over time you will learn more about what works, and your skills — and your confidence — will grow.