Every day we interact with a number of different people. Some we meet in person, or we read someone's work online, other times it may be a video we watch. Think back over the last two weeks, do you remember all of the people you met, and know who they really are?
Sometimes, we do. Yet, more often than not, we don't. Their face, words, and content, disappear from our brains like the memory of what we had for dinner last Wednesday night.
The art of the personal brand has always been something I have been interested in. Ever since I started writing, I was able to see how using my words to share my thoughts opened up doors for me and allowed me to build more connections. Moreover, I had a first hand view on how an article I wrote could have a significant influence and bring more credibility to my personal brand.
The following that I have gained through the channel of writing, sparked my curiosity in the art of the personal brand. To further satisfy this itch, I reached out to a fellow columnist over at Inc. Magazine to get his insights.
I had the opportunity to speak with Leonard Kim, Managing Partner at InfluenceTree, and asked him some questions about his success. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.
At the young age of 30, Leonard has made notable strides in building his personal brand. Back in the middle of 2013, he started experimenting on Quora, an online knowledge market. Within six months, he accumulated 2 million views on his content and was named a Top Writer. Now, at around 2 1/2 years in, he has over 10 million views on his content and has been featured in a plethora of publications and podcasts ranging from Forbes to Ask Altucher. From what seemed like nowhere, Leonard is now widely recognized as an influencer, and has a collective of well over 100,000 social media followers. Real followers, might I add.
But it didn't all start that way. Back in the end of 2010, after a few stints with some rocky and underfunded startups, he nearly went homeless and lost everything he had. His grandmother saved him and let him stay at her place for a while, making his particular story a modern day rags to riches tale.
I asked him how he recovered from such a low place in his life and what his secrets to success were.
Leonard provided 5 ways to build your personal brand, ensuring that you get noticed and are always remembered:
1. Make bold and fearless moves
Leonard was first inspired to write after reading a few articles by James Altucher. One that resonated with him was how James had felt after losing millions of dollars.
Leonard couldn't believe that someone could write something so painful publicly.
Yet, that inspired him.
After absorbing all the content he could by James, Leonard took a risk: he wrote his first article.
But after he wrote it, he was fearful of what people would think. Trembling, actually. It took him three hours to finally click publish. When he did, he was relieved.
The same happened a few other times when he wrote about some personal failures, his book and even went to a few speaking engagements, but he learned to push through the fear each time. Each time Leonard published, he got more and more confident until he became fearless.
Takeaway: Be bold, when in doubt, send it out.
2. Find a niche.
When Leonard first started writing, he went all over the place. He didn't have a key focus on what he wanted to write about, but after about a month, he honed in on one specific core topic: Failure.
By finding a niche, he was able to provide insights that others weren't talking about. Because of that, he drew the attention of people from all walks of life who were much smarter than him, from executives, ivy leaguers, programmers, doctorates, attorneys, bankers and more.
After Leonard built connections and an audience, he was able to talk about new topics that mattered to him.
Takeaway: Start with something unique that will stand out.
3. Provide value
Leonard didn't just talk about failure though. Throughout his career at multiple startups, he learned many things along the way. Lessons that had cost him tens of thousands of dollars to learn.
He figured that if he was going to write something, he had to do his absolute best at providing value, and so he used his lessons learned to help others avoid similar mistakes. His messages resonated with many of his readers, and because they found value in the content, many of them shared Leonard's articles, further increasing his reach.
One article that really stood out as providing value was how he showcased the exact formula on how to split equity within a startup. Advice like that costs tens of thousands of dollars from an attorney, and his readers ate it up.
This article helped Leonard build his reputation in the startup community as an expert, to both investors and entrepreneurs.
Takeaway: Make your content worth reading.
4. Be open and honest
When Leonard shares his articles, he doesn't sugar coat anything. He tells his stories exactly how they happened. He wasn't ashamed that he lost everything. Instead, he felt empowered by sharing the hard truth to his readers.
There was comfort in sharing his struggles and lessons he learned. Taking an honest look at the mistakes, he was not only able to build upon the experiences and accelerate his learning, but was able to ensure that others didn't make the same mistakes he once did.
Because of Leonard's honesty, he was able to build trust and create a solid network with the people who were reading his work. Coincidentally, many called him an inspiration for being so daring and brave.
Takeaway: Honesty is the best policy.
5. Stack your successes
Leonard kept focus on his brand as he gained his following, and after each small success, he had a tiny celebration then went back to work. Then, those small successes compounded and he stacked his success.
The most important lesson that Leonard shared was how he believes that everyone should focus on building their brand in a step by step process. Before Leonard built his brand, he would send out hundreds of resumes to companies. No one would ever get back to him- except for sales roles that he was not interested in.
Tired of the grind that sales involved, Leonard wanted to do something more, but no one would give him that chance.
By building out his brand and gaining a following, he found that opportunities started to come his way. Now, it is typical for his inbox to be flooded with new branding and consulting offers.
As a result of the slow and steady path that Leonard has pursued, today, Leonard is looked to as a true influencer, and a reliable source of quality information.
The building of a following through his established personal brand now empowers him to do the following:
Takeaway: Build your brand first and the world opens up for you.
These things would have been impossible for Leonard to achieve half a decade ago.
Yet now, the doors continue to swing wide open.
If you put forth the effort to building your own personal brand, doors will open up for you as well.
To learn more from Leonard on the step by step process that worked for him to build his personal brand and become an influencer, I suggest you follow him online, and see what he has done for yourself.
Do you have a story of how you were able to achieve success with your personal brand? If so, I'd love to learn more. Comment below!