Who do you want to be?
If you don’t have an answer, think about it for a couple minutes and I’ll check back because it’s important.
Everyone agrees that to be successful today, a company must develop a brand. It is much more than a logo – it’s a corporate persona, a feeling you want to convey, and the role you want the firm to play. It’s a presence that (hopefully) instills confidence in your audience and makes them receptive to your message and products. So branding is huge.
But these days social media has created individual superstars, people that are often famous for rather curious talents like applying makeup (Bretman Rock), making 6.5 second videos (DeStorm Power), or creating a multi-sport, trick shot nirvana (Dude Perfect). And that’s my point. If Bretman can rock his five million Instagram followers with a “sparkly eye makeup tutorial,” is it really any different from people tuning in to CNBC for a Jim Cramer lightning round? If DeStorm can empower his six million Vine followers to be active, laugh, and lose weight, isn’t this the same as Oprah reassuring her legions that it’s OK to love bread?
Yes, Brian, it is.
The lesson here is this – unless you already have assistants helping to put your pants on, the path to notoriety begins with who you are. And you can’t tell me who you are unless you know who you want to be.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say there’s this guy – he’s a snappy dresser, wears the finest designer scarves, loves to write and (survey SEZ) is a very effective leader. Oh, and did I mention that he has been blessed with badass barbecue skills (and is an expert marketer?)
So, what does he want to be? A writer? A wedding planner? A bartender on Vanderpump Rules?
Wrong, wrong and wrong. First off, it’s impossible to tell from this information. And second, you do not want someone to have to guess. Ever. You must tell them what you want to be, and then live it (at least professionally). This is your personal brand. If you want to be a lumbersexual, grow a beard and wear Kevlar-lined boots to compliment that plaid shirt. Fancy yourself an edgy, technoid hipster? Move to the north side of Brooklyn and shop in Williamsburg.
Me? I came back to Texas and worked on rethinking the content licensing model. So I call myself a concept architect, and I support my brand by blogging, doing licensing deals, mentoring, media planning, and by driving sales as COO at Wright’s Media.
I know. I’ve taken almost 500 words to get to the point. Here it is – how do you establish your personal brand?
First, assess your skills – what are you good at? And be specific (handsome spokesmodel won’t cut it.) If you are an excellent cook, that’s a talent that not everyone has. Maybe you are persuasive and a natural salesperson, or a gifted singer. And don’t forget – your skill doesn’t have to be in the mainstream. Maybe you’re exceedingly and grotesquely limber, or like to eat baby bees. Or, perhaps you possess the Guinness World Record-holding longest tongue and decided to, I don’t know, paint a beaver with it. Whatever, Lickasso. Now you know who you want to be.
What’s next? Promotion. Of course, these days promotion starts with content. As soon as you have an attractive and functional website, establish your presence on the appropriate (for your business/skill) social media channels. Establish it how? With your sparkling wit, scintillating prose, and mad creativity. It’s called content. Publish your videos, e-books, case studies, blogs, public presentations, how-to lists, original art, testimonials – whatever you got that tells people who you are.
If done correctly and relentlessly, this will eventually establish you as an authority, a subject-matter expert, a trusted presence.
Congratulations – you’re on your way to becoming a brand. But how successful a brand will you be?
That depends on the company you keep – your network.
Your network is your mouthpiece to greatness, but building it takes work and time. Name one thing that every exclusive club in the world has in common? To have the slightest chance of gaining membership, you’ll need someone to vouch for you. This is what your network does – gets you access to the coolest clubs in town, and in other towns too.
How do you build a network? Here is my four step process:
Publish/produce great stuff
Find people who can benefit from your great stuff
Comment and engage other people on their great stuff
Establish relationships and repeat
I know I’ve oversimplified things, but building a business network is basically those four steps. The beauty of a network is that a variation of Moore’s Law applies – as your network grows its power will increase and the benefits to you will compound. In this context, a new relationship is just like a new sale because it further elevates your personal brand.
The value your network brings to your personal brand cannot be overstated. It is your business card, your secret handshake, and your key to the kingdom all rolled into one. Your network knows who you are, and all members are happy to vouch for you and your skills.
Congratulations again – you now have a sales force. Your brand has arrived.