According to Wikipedia “Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization.. … Individuals sometimes associate personal names or pseudonyms with their businesses”
The concept of Personal branding, or call it self-positioning if you will, was first introduced in the 1937 Best Selling book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It was nearly 80 years ago that Napoleon Hill said, “It should be encouraging to know that practically all the great fortunes began in the form of compensation for personal services, or from the sale of IDEAS…. A BURNING DESIRE TO BE AND TO DO is the starting point from which a dreamer must take off. Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness or lack of ambition. Dreams are the seedlings of Reality…”
Personal branding has grown in significance thanks to the wide spread use of the Internet, and the explosion of social media platforms. People worried earlier about networking physically can now present themselves in a way which might not always be a correct representation of their exact self. That’s why people on social media never seem to age ? Just don’t do that for a dating site, though!
Even if you are camera shy or uncomfortable putting yourself out on videos, you can so very easily choose your best photograph as your identity and brand yourself. You have no excuse any more!
Why is Personal Branding Important in Today’s Digital Age?
In today’s digital age, where big brother (and his whole family!) is watching, nothing is private any more. Whether you want to or not, you already have an online brand. Type out your name in Google and chances are that even if you have plenty of the same namesakes, your details WILL pop up in the search results. It could be your Facebook profile or your Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn account, maybe a blog you write on, a company you are a director in, and so many other ways. On an average there could be at least a couple pages of results for your name.
Brands and consumer spending are very closely intertwined. People will always prefer to buy from a brand they know and trust. I’m sure it’s the same with you. Would you prefer to buy a TV from Sony or from Vizio, even if Vizio was 15% cheaper than Sony? You get my point!
Therefore, if you want to grow your customer base, why not think about actively branding yourself properly and consistently across all your online assets? Whether you want a new job, or are vying for a project contract or want to sell a service, its quite possible that someone will want to first check you out online. But be careful, your online brand is something you need to nurture and grow, instead of letting it run hammock on its own.
You never get a Second Chance to make a First Impression! – Will Rogers
Even though at one time people thought branding was only for large companies, today, personal branding has become a necessity. If you want to make sure that people perceive you the way you want to be seen, you have to make an effort to put yourself out there where people can see you constantly and get a chance to interact with you. Your personal brand is the sum total of all your skill sets, your experiences and the interactions you have had with people and other brands that will shape and define you.
Personal Branding is what will make you stand out from your competition. If you are good at something, it’s your moral responsibility to go out there and let the world know about it, otherwise how will the world know how to reach out to you and offer you the work that you deserve to get? You have to be well known for it. And once it is well known that you are the best for a particular skill that you have, you will also be able to command the right compensation for your talent.
The Best Known will Always beat the Best! – Digital Deepak
Personal Branding makes it 10x Easier
Having a Personal Brand makes everything 10 times easier, whether you are going for a job interview, or you want a freelance assignment, or even if you want people to invest into your company. Your Personal Brand is very much a part of your Personal Net Worth.
To do effective personal branding, it’s important you have your own blog or site, have your custom logo that people can recognize and connect to your brand, your own brand colours and a professional email connected to your brand. If you use a free email like yahoo or gmail to connect to your customers, no one will take you seriously. All these combined with good valuable content will compound your branding efforts over time.
The Personal Branding Funnel
The first stage of your Personal Brand is built by making people aware that you exist. You can do this by adding good value content to your blog or on any of your social media assets like Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook. But just having content is not enough. You should also start helping people with the knowledge you have.
There are many ways you can do that. Say you want to establish yourself as an expert on SEO, you can give out a free e-book on some aspect of SEO to all the people that visit your blog, you can start answering questions on SEO that are asked on Quora or other similar sites, you can send out a free email series on SEO to your subscribers to educate them on how to do basic SEO for their blog.
Awareness allows us to get outside of our mind and observe it in Action – Dan Brule
Once you start helping people with SEO, once you have done some SEO assignments, then you can start gathering social proof and talking about it. Ask your happy customers to give you a testimonial that you can add to your blog, get feedback on an ebook you have given away by asking your customers what else they would like to know, conduct a poll at the end of your email series to ask your subscribers if the knowledge helped them. You can add all these to your blog, showcasing all the positive feedback you have received from your customers and readers.
This helps to build credibility in the eyes of the readers who have come to your site but do not know you yet. You are slowly establishing yourself as a person who seems to have good knowledge about SEO and people will remember that and when they have a query about SEO they will remember to revisit your blog or get your feedback on their problem.
However, be sure that you are building your own brand and not someone else’s. What I mean is that though it’s all good to grow your popularity on social media platforms, it is more important to build your own property even more strongly. Two of your own most important properties or assets are your blog and your own email subscriber list. These are your very own assets and you must nurture these well.
The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but Credibility – Rick Warren
Just as Rome was not built in a day, Reputation is not built overnight. You have to look credible in the eyes of your customers and subscribers for a long time till you start to get a good reputation. And it’s not enough to just be credible. Not only do you need to, always do what you say you will do, but you also need to sometimes go a step beyond what is expected. Sometimes you can also go out of your way to help others reach their goals. Also, always act with integrity. Put your customer before yourself. Put value before sales. And when you do these consistently, you can’t go wrong.
It is up to you, whether you land up having a good reputation or a bad one. Whether you are a company or an individual, it’s your reputation that can make or break your business.
Have a plan to build your reputation. Control the conversation about yourself, especially on Social Media, by being proactive to prevent problem issues from turning into negative feedback. Your online reputation is impacted by the content you share on all your online assets and your interactions that you have with your blog users and social network fans.
Character is like a tree and Reputation like a shadow – Abraham Lincoln
Don’t hesitate to invest time and effort to build your personal brand. A good reputation will eventually lead to fame. When you consistently have a presence that people recognize and start looking up to, you become a celebrity in your niche. Famous people stand out from other people, they attain celebrity status for their achievements, skills, or talent.
Like reputation, fame doesn’t come overnight. Very often we only see the glamour surrounding a famous celebrity. But most people are unaware of the time, effort, sweat and failures that have gone behind attaining that celebrity status. Check the history for any famous person and more often than not you will find that they went through plenty of struggle before finding success.
The only difference between being famous and not being famous is that people know who you are – Oprah Winfrey
Maintaining a Reputation
Don’t think that once you’ve become famous your job is over. Far from it!
The relationship between brands and consumers is dynamic and must be constantly fine tuned.
Even more important, and indeed more difficult, than getting a good reputation or personal brand is maintaining that reputation. A good personal brand is important because it will set you apart from your competitors, and can even be the deciding factor when choosing you over your competition, for whatever it is that you are promoting. However, remember to stay grounded once you become famous. It’s very easy to get carried away by all the adulation you get from your fans.
Keep in mind certain basic principles and you should be good. Treat others with the same respect and dignity the way you want to be treated, value other people’s time, think before you speak, especially when you are angry, don’t stop giving value to your customers, be happy to let your students surpass you, and most important of all, if you are in a position of power, use that power wisely and for the good of others.
Be nice to people on you way up because you’ll meet them on your way down – Wilson Mizner
Interesting Reads on Personal Branding
Check out these excellent books if you feel like reading more about Personal Branding.
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – With over 100 million copies sold worldwide, this is one of the most popular books of all time on personal development and self-improvement. Napoleon Hill talks about a “Philosophy of Achievement” by way of the below mentioned “key success factors” that are taken from the success stories of more than 500 exceedingly wealthy personalities like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Stuart Austin Wier, John D Rockefeller and other millionaires of his time, whom he has carefully analyzed over a long period of years.
- Specialized Knowledge
- Organized Planning
- Power of the Master Mind
- The Mystery of Sex Transmutation
- The Subconscious Mind
- The Brain
- The Sixth Sense
- How to Outwit the six Ghosts of Fear
According to him the secret to great fortune is to suppress negative thoughts and keep your focus on the long term. This is one of the pages I liked best from this book…
Influence : Science and Practice by Dr Robert Cialdini – Another fantastic read, this book deals with the Psychology of Influence & Compliance – what are the triggers that cause a person to say “yes” to one’s request. According to the Journal of Marketing Research “For Marketers, this book is among the most important books written in the last ten years”
A combination of the narrative style and scholarly research, Influence is a confluence of evidence from experimental work and the strategies Cialdini collected while working in organizations that commonly use compliance triggers to get people to say “yes.” He has organized the compliance triggers into six categories based on the psychological principles that govern human behavior:
- Social proof
According to Cialdini, “Automatic, stereotyped behavior, is prevalent in much of human action, because in many cases it is the most efficient form of something potentially more important – brain strain.”
Branding Pays by Karen Kang – This is, according to Karen “The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand“. This book is “A must-have for all professionals looking to up-level their impact” according to Marc Levine, Exec Director, Affymax Inc.
Karen says that we all need to reinvent our personal brand if we want to move to the next level of our career. This book is a practical guide to strategic personal branding, that will help you refocus your skills and experience so you are the best candidate for whatever job, career or business opportunity that you desire. It is perfect for professionals, entrepreneurs and college students who want to be more competitive, more connected in a world has become smaller thanks to globalization and social media. “A must-read if you are ready to invest in YOU” says Monica Poindexter of Genentech.
Brand You 50 by Tom Peters – Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!
n 50 essential points, Tom Peters shows how to be committed to your craft, choose the right projects, how to improve networking, why you need to think fun is cool, and why it’s important to piss some people off. He will enable you to turn yourself into an important and distinctive commodity. In short, he will show you how to turn yourself into . . . Brand You.
Check out “The Larger Picture” according to him
The 50+ main items contain about 200 “TTDs” within (Things To Do). Can be quite overwhelming! So go through the book and even if you pick just 10 of the 50 big items from these and prioritize these as things to do first, you will go through the lot with ease. And as you go through each one, don’t lose sight of ‘The Big Picture’ above!
There are so many more wonderful books on Personal Branding... but these are good for a start I guess… Let me know which one you liked best. Is there one you liked better than these mentioned here? I’d love to know!