People, Social Media

Five ways to build a genuine personal brand without using social media

Carlii Lyon /

personal brand

Carlii Lyon Public Relations founder Carlii Lyon. Source: Supplied.

When social media became a ‘thing’, I was one of those PR professionals that buried my head in the sand and hoped it would all go away.

It is hard to imagine life before social media, and from the perspective of building a personal brand and developing influence, we often forget to employ the effective strategies that once were everything. Your personal brand is so much more than your digital profile — it is who you are, what you represent and how you make others feel. 

In fact, when Tom Peters coined the term ‘personal branding’ and wrote the iconic article “The brand called you” for FastCompany, social media wasn’t a ‘thing’. So if you still have reservations about using social media as an individual to amplify your personal brand, below are some equally powerful and effective ways to launch, shape and manage a powerful personal brand that will allow you to take an active role in the direction of your life and career.

1. Share your expertise via traditional media

You can have millions of followers and a thriving online business, but the credibility you gain from being featured in Forbes or The New York Times cannot be bought.

Developing a relationship with key journalists in your sector is important and keeping them up to date with who you are and what you are doing is a great way to build your personal brand. It can open you up to opportunities to weigh in on stories via comment and write op-ed pieces when you know you have something to say.

Social media now offers us the opportunity to connect with journalists personally and get a sense of what stories and products speak to them.

For those just starting out, you might want to start with newer media outlets, but don’t stop aiming high and thinking big.

 2. Speak to the right audiences

Irrespective of what industry you are in, there will always be opportunities to speak and share your knowledge. This allows you to develop a personal brand and become known to new audiences.

If you struggle with the idea of public speaking, you might consider working with a speaking coach, but please beware. I recently had a client who wanted to start speaking to the corporate market so she employed a speaking coach. After watching a video of her on stage it was clear she was so caught up in the technique, she forgot to be herself and allow the audience to connect with her.

My advice is to be open to the techniques, but remember the most important thing is truly knowing your material and passionately sharing it with others.

3. Network with the right people

If Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is correct in saying ‘your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room’, then it is smart to assume forging the right alliances and nurturing the right relationships is an essential part of building a formidable personal brand.

As far as I’m concerned, every encounter you have with anyone, from anywhere, is an opportunity to reinforce your personal brand.

A perfect example of this is the recent image that went viral of Marco Bizzarri, chief executive officer at Gucci, with fashion intern Holly Beckley. Bizzari volunteered his time to give Holly some career advice over a simple coffee. She then took a picture and posted it. Thousands of people responded positively and it definitely sent all the right messages.

 4. Write a book about everything you know 

Writing and launching a book about your area of expertise is essentially a glorified business card. It can open up speaking opportunities, media opportunities, and new client opportunities.

I am the first person to admit it is a big commitment, but the rewards if executed effectively can be worth the pain.

For those who are not gifted in the art of poetically portraying their ideas in words, there are many talented journalists on hand to act as ghostwriters. In fact, most of the high-profile individuals I have represented, have in some shape or form, worked with ghostwriters, to help bring their ideas to life and ensure they flow effortlessly.

Yes, publishers do have a preference for working with individuals who have an established following, but there are always ways to structure the deal so it is a win-win. 

5. Nominate yourself for the right awards

There was a stage in my early career where I had convinced myself that anyone who had ‘award-winning’ attached to their name had been randomly selected for doing extraordinary work.

The extraordinary work part is true, however, awards are offered to those who either nominate themselves or are nominated.

Telstra was very smart when they created the Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards and offered a platform where women could nominate other women they saw as exemplary in their field.

As the saying goes, you have to be in it to win it, and the only way you will be in the running is to nominate yourself. Get to know what awards are available to you, the relevant categories and how to nominate.

The networking that can result and the award-winning title you might achieve is a wonderful tool in building your personal brand.

NOW READ: How to reinvent your personal brand after a career change

NOW READ: Own it: The 10 things you need to do to manage your personal brand

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Carlii Lyon

Carlii is the former long-term personal publicist of Miranda Kerr and founder of Carlii Lyon Public Relations, a boutique public relations consultancy that has represented pioneers in the world of wellness, New York Times bestselling authors, inventors, musicians and even a British foot reader! Today she uses her experience and expertise to help everyday individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners, create, shape and manage their personal brand.

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