There are a lot of people out there that claim to be branding experts, but very few that have done it as effectively as Neil Patel. From his personal brand alone he's been able to build multiple million-dollar businesses (and speaks about his experiences and steps in lengths on any of his five blogs).
A few weeks ago I cold emailed him. I used part of my past -- "my story" -- as the lead into the email, kept it super short and concise, and asked for some personal branding advice. He responded quickly, and we scheduled a 10-minute call. Among the things we discussed were his three secrets to effectively building a personal brand.
1. Help others no matter what.
He not only stressed this on our phone call, but emphasized it again when I emailed him to ask permission to write this article. He believes that you should help others no matter what -- even if there's nothing in it for you. He talks about this in length on his blog at QuickSprout.com.
He recently told a story about how he helped a man at a conference that had poor body odor, but nobody else would give him any attention. He helped the man out of the kindness of his heart, and that he didn't feel it was right that somebody who paid to attend the event wouldn't be getting the value they sought. Helping the man obviously made Patel feel good, knowing he was helping without any selfish motive. It just so happened that the man told others about Patel's generosity, and from the man's story, Patel was able to land a very sizable deal for his business -- simply by helping someone in need.
2. Use your story to create buzz.
Your story should be unique and should be what sets you apart. Use your story to create your buzz. Let it be the spark that ignites the fire that becomes your personal brand.
This is the exact email I sent Patel below. You can see how I get to the point right away, keep it short and used my story to create the initial interest (aka "buzz).
"I need some advice on building a personal brand, and love + respect what you've done with yours. I've been building companies since I was 22. I've had success and failure like any entrepreneur.
When I was 22, I got into a fight in a Las Vegas nightclub. Six years later at 28 I went to prison for 2 years. I've been back for 18 months rebuilding my empire.
I'm involved with 2 charities that teach inmates entrepreneurship in institutions, so that I can use my experience in a positive way. I wrote a book called Hacking the Valley when I was away, and have a lot of cool projects in the works as we speak.
Would you be willing to give me some advice? Maybe like a 10 minute call or something?
Thanks in advance Neil."
3. Create your following, provide value and watch everything grow.
Patel has five multi-million-dollar software businesses. He has thousands of dedicated followers. If I do a quick search in my mailbox using his email address I see a list of posts he sends from his bi-weekly newsletter. Every single post he writes is informative, practical and useful to everything I do in the startup world. He also creates products people need, such as KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. Most important, he provides value to everyone. In turn, he's able to help more people, and his value-creation machine continues to exponentially grow.
Through Patel's personal experience, transparency and desire to help others, we can all learn how to effectively build personal brands. As we learn, we should make it a point to help others along the way. Through this process, our own credibility is reaffirmed, our value creation machine will grow, and most important we'll be helping others who are in need.
Remember, building your personal brand can take time. Don't expect some crazy quick-sprout overnight improvement. However, investing in your personal brand just might be the best investment you can make.
I'd love to hear some effective or creative personal branding stories from you. Leave comments down below and let's learn from one another.