I read a recent post from my LinkedIn connection Michelle Griffin. Like me, Michelle shares Personal Brand content and in her article, she argues that Personal Branding isn’t a narcissistic pastime but about bringing value to others. I couldn’t agree more. Your Personal Brand isn’t there just to serve you, it’s actually more about how you as an individual serve your audience.
Nowadays almost every touchpoint of communication we have with our colleagues, clients, and customers is online so your Personal Brand needs to exist in those channels. But the road to recognition is not solely contingent on how compelling your LinkedIn summary reads or the pictures on your IG page or even how many followers you have. Yes, these aspects of your Personal Brand can help you realise some of your ambitions, however, the real question to ask yourself is: “Who is this for?”, “Who is my audience?” Because when you understand that your Personal Brand isn’t there just to serve you but to help others, you will be perceived as authentic and credible vs flaky and self-serving. It also makes talking about your expertise and strengths a whole lot easier.
The best way to do this is simply to share what you know.
For many professionals, particularly women, content creation can seem incredibly daunting. There aren’t enough hours in the day as it is besides putting yourself out there and being vulnerable isn’t easy: “Who am I to share my opinions?”. “I have nothing to say worth listening to”. I’ve also asked these questions of myself but I’m here to tell you that you are a woman and you have a voice that is worthy of being heard. So go ahead and do it. It doesn’t have to take over your life maybe 45 min-1 hour per day writing short-form content and commenting on a few LinkedIn posts. Like anything, the best way is to start small and expand your mantra as your confidence grows. There are a number of Social Media posting apps that are super useful in helping you to create a plan. I didn’t bother until recently but I finally carved out an hour to get my head around Buffer (other apps are available) and it’s made a massive difference.
So, what will you write about?
- Highly valuable content that answers your audience’s questions. The most successful personal brands combine a blend of personal experiences and professional expertise. You’ll want to share content that offers your audience something and gives them an opportunity to learn from where you’ve been. This is key. Serving your audience by sharing your experience and wisdom is very different to ‘bragging about your achievements’. Reframe everything as providing a service (which you are) and you will never be accused of being arrogant or pushy.
- Share your Story! I have a story. You have a story. We all have a story. Everything that happens to you can either be told as a story, to share an experience, teach a lesson, or give people a window into your personality. People connect with stories, they are what brings the human touch to your Personal Brand. Storys will enhance the quality of your message and forge a much stronger connection between you and your audience.
- Focus your efforts on 2-3 areas of your professional expertise. For example, I create content primarily centred around Personal Branding for Women, but I also talk about confidence, leadership and equality in the workplace.
- Mix it up. Different themes and formats mean when I have more time I can write a blog whereas when I’m short on time I can post or comment. LinkedIn also rewards different types of content, text only, text plus pictures, video. Mixing it up is a good thing not only for variety but so you reach audiences who want to consume your content in different formats.
- Be generous. Share this content selflessly, with no expectations of receiving anything in return. Remember your Personal Brand isn’t there just to serve you. Chasing likes and followers is a hiding to nothing and can be demoralising in the beginning when you’re Personal Brand is in its infancy
It takes a while before you see results so don’t give up too soon
Personal branding is about playing the long game, you may not see a return on your investment for a few months. But stick with it and your Personal Brand will become your competitive advantage, putting you lightyears ahead of your competitors when that next big opportunity comes your way