All professionals need to intentionally manage their online reputation. This can be as simple as using Google to check out your existing online reputation, setting your personal Facebook account to private, as well as creating a great LinkedIn profile to enhance your online presence.
Public speakers however should go beyond monitoring and casually managing their online presence; speakers should take steps to intentionally develop a personal brand.
Whether you are professional with no desire to speak in public, or you are hoping to launch or continue a career as a public speaker, the steps below can help you create a powerful personal brand. Speakers who follow the steps below will likely find that speaking opportunities increase and the influence of speaking gigs multiplies.
And if you’re a professional with no current interest in public speaking, I suggest following the steps below and once you complete these steps, reconsider your aversion to public speaking because public speaking is a great way to grow your personal brand.
Before you start building your personal brand, you need to take some time to contemplate who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and how you want to be seen by others. As you evaluate your place in the world, it is also critical to identify what you can offer the world.
For example, if you work in the health industry and decide to build your personal brand identity on your passion for healthy living, make sure you can provide something unique and of value to individuals who are also interested in health. If you are currently a health enthusiast and you have some knowledge of health thanks to your professional role, but you’re not necessarily an expert, then you should probably step up your knowledge base as the first step towards creating your personal brand. Not only will this help you in your current professional position, but it will also help you launch your personal brand with a sense of authority.
That is part of the beauty of this process; as you start to define your personal brand, you might discover that your current personal brand is not in sync with your true goals and interests. Identifying your goals for your personal brand can help you create a bucket list that will ultimately lead you towards your greatest dreams. If you hadn’t taken the time to ask yourself, who am I, and how do I want to be seen? then you might have just floated along in your career, letting fate and the decisions of others determine your path in life, instead of charting your own course.
To help you contemplate your personal brand, here is one more example. You might currently be a successful executive in a big corporation but you hope to one day be your own boss and run your own business. You have been working in the tech industry and want to continue working in that field, but you’re not sure yet what you want to offer the tech community when you launch your own business. To give your new business the best chances for success, you should identify an area of expertise that gets you fired up and also has potential for your new business. Then build your personal platform on that specialty as the first baby step towards your entrepreneurial dream.
If after contemplation you realize that the personal brand you wish to develop is in perfect alignment with your current areas of expertise, then congratulations! You are in good shape to continue with the next steps.
Once you identify the general scope of your personal brand identity, then your next step is to continue to refine your personal brand so that it is truly special to you. Your personal brand might be similar to the personal brand of others, however you want your brand to have some unique aspects and some personal flavor so your brand will be memorable and refreshing.
For example, if you decide that the basic foundation for your personal brand will be built upon your expertise as a content marketer, how will you set yourself apart from all of the other content marketers? Do you want to specialize in content marketing for local businesses? Or perhaps you want to specialize in the visual content that is needed for content marketing. You might also want to be known for your humorous slant to content marketing topics and cover all content marketing topics, but cover them in a way that is special to you.
Honing in on the unique aspects of your personal brand does not mean that you need to be an extreme specialist who never strays from a strict list of topics or way of presenting yourself, however having a clearly defined vision and personality for your brand will help you stay on course as you create a personal brand that stands out from the pack and that your audience can count on for consistency.
Now that you have reflected, defined, and refined the conceptual aspects of your brand, you are ready to start creating the digital assets that will shape your brand.
To share your brand with the world you should consider collecting and/or creating the following assets:
1. Professional Photos
You will need a headshot or photo for all of your digital outlets so go ahead and invest in a professional photo shoot or ask a talented friend to help you create a small collection of great photos that will present you in a way that is in alignment with your brand identity.
If your brand is stylish and fun, then your photo should also be stylish and fun. However if your brand is professional and formal, then don’t use a photo from last year’s Halloween party with any materials associated with your personal brand. Instead, get a headshot of you looking sophisticated and clean-cut. Your photos will play a big role in defining your personal brand.
2. Social Media Presence
You don’t need to be on every social media platform but you should be active on at least a few social media platforms. To know which platforms will be best for you, consider who you want to connect with, and figure out which social media platforms they use regularly. Their favorite social media sites should become your favorite social media sites too.
3. Personal Website
You should also create a website to help establish your personal brand. Your website can start simple and grow with time. To get started, your site can include a picture of you, a bio, a summary of your brand and your mission, and links to the social media profiles of your personal brand.
If you can make time for a blog, go for it. Blogging at least once a week will do wonders for your personal brand. Remember to blog about topics that fit within your brand image, and also topics on which you can speak with authority. Use your blog posts to fill your social media queue, however remember to share other people’s work as well. You don’t want to be self-centered on social media, however having some original material to share will give your credibility and influence a big boost.
To successfully create a personal brand, ensure that you are consistent across your social media profiles and your website in terms of design style and tone of voice. Consistency is key for branding. You can add just enough variety to keep it interesting without muddying the waters of your brand.
Once you are set up with your online presence, share your own work, share the work of others, connect with your current network, reach out to people beyond your existing network, and be quick your follow-ups to correspondence.
This part of personal branding can be a lot of fun because you will get to see your dream inspire and empower other people around the world. You will make new connections that also inspire and empower you.
While this part can be exciting, it can also be challenging because unlike the other parts of personal branding that have been completed up to this point, connecting is not something that you can simply check off your to-do list and be done with it. Connecting with other people is an ongoing process; it is a marathon not a sprint.
Once you have established your personal brand and been active online for several months, take a step back and evaluate what is working and what is not working, as well as what truly represents you and what might not be a perfect fit.
For example, you might find that some of the blog posts you are creating generate lots of conversation and connections with your online audience while others are getting zero engagement. If this is the case, don’t fret; it is normal to have a mix of success and failure when creating content.
Take a look at at the content that’s not working and ask yourself, Is this content essential for my brand? If it is essential because it is closely related to your core competencies, then look for opportunities to put a creative spin on that content in the future to create more buzz. If it is not essential, then that might be part of the problem; you might be stretching yourself too thin by trying to cover too much, or you might be wandering outside of your area of expertise. If that’s the case, then revisit the results of step #1 and step #2 to get yourself back on course.
If some social media platforms are more successful than others, ask yourself again, Is this platform essential for my brand? Some social media sites simply will not be a good fit for you so consider that as an option. If however you know that you need to be on a social media site but you’re struggling to gain traction in that community, then take a look around and try to learn from the best of the best on that site. In addition, consider giving yourself a crash course by reading articles and signing up for some online educational courses so you can enhance your knowledge of the social media platform.
While you don’t want to let challenges knock you off course, you should use challenges and failures as an opportunity for reflection and learning. Your brand might need to evolve over time to be successful so mentally prepare for that possibility. If your brand does evolve in some ways, ensure that you are still staying true to yourself. You should be inspired by feedback and analytics, but not held hostage by it. Your personal brand is your personal identity so you need to be true to yourself above all else.
You already have a personal brand, and people are already evaluating you based on your personal brand. If you are not intentionally creating a personal brand then your brand is whatever crumbs people can find online, such as your personal Facebook page, and perhaps a Twitter account that you started but never completed. Don’t let this casual approach to your online personality decrease the opportunities you receive. Instead, take control of your online presence and create a strong personal brand that will set you on a course to accomplish all of your dreams, on your own terms.
Over the next few months I plan to follow my own advice and refine my online presence. If you are going to do this as well, let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from you! You can connect to me on my personal Twitter account as well as the Ethos3 Twitter account.
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