Thinking about trying to make a living as a public speaker? If so, you need to start thinking about creating your personal brand. We live in a multi-media world. Photographs, video, social media, oratory, written posts. And most of these occur or end up online.

Some of the best thinkers of our day are challenging our longstanding notions of the “real” world and the “virtual” world. In his book, Inter/vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy, Jan Rune Holmevik says that the “virtual” world is every bit as real as the “real” world. In fact, Holmevik says we can’t live by a “false binary,” any longer believing that offline and online activities belong to two separate realms.

We have to realize that things we put online create a real image. And this image adds up to real perceptions of who we are. Today’s speakers have to be masters of our multi-media world, shaping and creating perceptions that will lead to greater audiences and opportunities.

To that end, we’ll take our next 5 blogs to talk about the 5 C’s of creating your personal brand: clarity, content, connection, creativity, and community. Today, we’ll start with clarity, the foundation on which we’ll build everything else. Let’s look at three questions that will help us approach this marketing process with clarity.

Who Am I?

Getting clarity involves self-reflection as well as some research. How do you see yourself? Can you articulate who you are and what you are truly passionate about? This might involve the use of some self-assessments. A few of our favorites are the Enneagram, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly the StrengthsFinder).

These types of assessments can be a bit of an investment when you are getting started. The Enneagram costs about $12 and the MBTI and CliftonStrengths tests are both around $50. But the information they’ll give you is truly invaluable as you strive to build a brand that is both unique and consistent with who you are.

How Do Others See Me?

After you’ve explored who you think you are, you need to ask yourself: Do I know how others perceive me? This can be tough to figure out because all of us have what Kevin McCarthy calls “blindspots.” He says, “Blindspots are hidden biases, assumptions, and thinking errors. Most of us think we are self-aware. Yet studies show only 10-15% of us actually are.” McCarthy’s company has put together a 14-question blindspot assessment here. After completing it, you’ll get feedback on your strengths as well as your potential blindspots.

An online questionnaire is a great place to start, but it isn’t going to give you all the information you’ll need. For that, you’ll have to have some tough, but honest, conversations with friends and coworkers. If that seems too uncomfortable, of if you think they won’t be honest with you (which may happen if you are in a leadership position), consider LinkedIn Influencer and Mightybell CEO Gina Bianchini’s suggestion. Send out a survey and stress that the responses will be anonymous. You might try using a tool like SurveyMonkey for this. It’s important that you work hard to see yourself through others’ eyes. It’s the only way you’ll be able to create an authentic brand.

What is My Brand?

Finally, you need to move from self-discovery to what author and branding expert Dan Schwabel calls brand discovery. He says, “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.”

At this stage, you move from figuring out who you are to figuring out what you are going to do, create, or build. This can be centered around your process, your product, or your personality. However, keep in mind that customers are keenly attuned to brand inconsistencies. So it’s important that you make sure that who you are is consistent with the brand you are creating.

These three questions will set you up for personal branding success. Next time, we’ll look at how important our branding content is.

For more information about who you are specifically as a speaker, take our presentation persona assessment now.

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