What on earth is a personal brand?

When people say, "I want to build a personal brand," the first thing they think about is numbers. Number of Twitter followers. Number of Facebook Likes. Number of blog subscribers. 

Those are very poor metrics for building a meaningful personal brand.

Building a personal brand means providing so much value in one (or multiple) niche(s) that people begin to associate your name with the idea of what it means to be successful in that industry. 

You become a thought leader and an influencer.

Building a personal brand takes a lot of work, but if you are ready to dive in, here's the overview you need:

Step 1: Figure out what you are good at, and what you want to do to make a living.

I don't know about you, but I am really, really bad at convincing myself to do things I don't enjoy. It's part of the reason I was such a horrible student.

The first step is acknowledging what you like doing--because if you don't like doing it, chances are you won't take it very seriously, and if you aren't willing to take it seriously and be good at it, then why even bother?

Once you know what you like doing, you need to make the commitment to being as great at that thing as you possibly can be. This has nothing to do with being competitive (even though I think competition is a great motivator). This has to do with realizing that whatever you like doing, a million other people like doing too--and they are all ready to take your position, should you start slacking.

Commit to becoming a thought leader in the thing you love doing. 

Step 2: Find your social platform.

The biggest problem most people make right out the gate is they rush into building a website for themselves, or spend hours trying to come up with how they are going to brand themselves.

None of it matters. Not yet.

What matters is that you start owning your craft, and providing value to people in a public domain. Everything stems from there. 

Find a platform that suits your interest, and start creating the best content you possibly can. Chef? Make foodie videos on Instagram. Motivational speaker? Facebook video your face off. Digital marketing specialist? Then why aren't I in your funnel yet?

Step 3: Collaborate.

Next build as many relationships as you can with other thought leaders within your niche. This will open so many doors for you--and help grow your social following.

Find other people who create great content and collaborate. Fitness? Lift together, record it, and post it on YouTube. Gaming? Duel each other, post funny rage clips on Snapchat and @tag each other in text on the screen. 

Create content together and trade audiences. Everyone wins, everyone grows, and you'll make some awesome connections and friends in the process.

Step 4: Build your website/email list.

Once you have a significant following on social media it's time to build your website. Start with something simple like Squarespace or Wix--no reason to jump right to the custom Wordpress site (unless that's your forte). 

Your website should be the ultimate value add to readers. You attract their attention on social media, and you give them all the value in the world on your website.

A win/win here is for you to offer specialized content in exchange for their email--a free download, a trial code to a program, etc. Something that will provide them value, and give you the ability to give them even more value over the long term.

Step 5: Launch your own products.

And finally, the whole purpose of building a Personal Brand is to avoid the hellish route of being an affiliate to someone else. If that's your game, cool. It's just not mine. I would rather build my own stuff--and pay other people out to be my affiliates.

The incentive for launching your own products, far more than monetarily, is the credibility it gives you. Today's business cards are books, courses, products that speak on your behalf and your knowledge. These are intended to open doors to other thought leaders in your industry, and tangential industries, so that you can (go back to Steps 2 and 3) continue building your social followings, collaborating, and engaging with new influencers and their audiences.

Published on: Jul 27, 2016
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.