You seem to see them everywhere. Business celebrities who go beyond being an expert to being nationally or internationally known in their industry. They make the rounds on every podcast, business TV show and are all over the web. The strategy make sense: the more visibility means more credibility, brand recognition, clients and sales.
If you are a founder, an author, speaker, consultant, realtor or another type of "solopreneneur" serving as the face of your business, you’ve probably wondered, How did they do it?
In the last year I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the biggest personal brands in the entrepreneurship space, including Grant Cardone, a well-known sales expert, who positions himself as a celebrity.
"In 2009, when the economy collapsed, I started looking at who was still successful. Anybody who was on TV, could survive," he told me. "Then I knew what I had to do; celebrities have power."
Here are a few lessons I learned from Cardone and others on how to grow your personal brand, positioning yourself as an expert, and reaching celebrity status.
1. Focus first on building your business.As much as you may not want to hear it, you can't build a nationally-known personal brand overnight. Personal branding comes down to building and maintaining a reputation, which takes time. The biggest personal brands have not only put in the years they’ve also produced results.
If you look at experts in various fields, including Chalene Johnson, Michael Hyatt and Gary Vaynerchuk, they built empires and ran businesses before they built their brands. This means you need to go about building your credibility and expertise in your field first, with thousands of products sold, millions of dollars made, hundreds of speeches given, you get the picture.
2. Be everywhere.
Brand visibility is the key to becoming an expert, and the only way to increase visibility is to start creating valuable content – and a lot of it. A blog on your website and two guest posts on a major publication aren't enough. You need to throw a wide net to break through the noise and get noticed.
Become a guest contributor on smaller sites pertinent to your industry before you pitch to major publications. Also pitch to sites that don’t pertain to business. For example, if you’re a working mom you could contribute to ScaryMommy.com and discuss work-life balance. If you’ve traveled all over the world for business, start pitching to popular travel sites. Just remember to incorporate who you are and what you do into the articles.
Beyond writing, think about building a presence on popular social-media platforms, appearing on different television and radio programs and offering quotes to reporters and authors so that you’re cited as an expert in their stories.
3. Say yes to everything.
Part of being everywhere means saying yes to every opportunity that might bring you additional exposure. If you dig into the "Google rabbit hole,", for these personalities, you’ll see that years ago they did many interviews for small local television shows, lesser-known publications and obscure podcasts. They only started turning down opportunities after the demand for their time became restrictive.
In other words, unless people are asking you for quotes and interviews all day, every day, keep saying yes! Smaller publicity is still publicity.
4. Constantly update your brand.
You need to update your websites and profiles regularly. If you sit down on your local morning show, add it to the press page of your site as soon as you get a clip from the station. If your goal is to write more, focus your website to showcase previous published work and rework your "about" page copy to line up with your current goal.
Why the urgency? Two reasons. One, if you don’t set a system for doing this often, you’ll look up one day and have to add six months of press appearances to your website. Two, every opportunity can and should be leveraged for the next opportunity.
5. Partner with bigger personalities.
This one is not rocket science, though it is a science called social proof, specifically celebrity social proof. Off the top of your head, you can probably think of a few personal brands that skyrocketed to success after an endorsement from someone much bigger than them. This has been called the "Oprah Effect."
Proximity to influencers implies to a bystander that the celebrity is aware of, and possibly endorses, your brand. This can work both ways however, so be sure that you partner up with brands that are a good fit.
6. Scale up.
This is probably the biggest hold up for most that will read this article. How can you do the steps listed above, write everywhere, do every interview, engage on social media and still run a successful business full time? You can’t. Hire someone to serve as your brand manager and entrust them with scouting opportunities, helping ghost write your articles and updating your website regularly.
You can also utilize a publicist or PR firm to help. If you are a solo operation, start by hiring a virtual assistant, then immediately start creating systems and processes to streamline operations and free up time for you to write or do media appearances.
7. Be patient.
Gary Vaynerchuk did a year and a half of daily episodes of Wine Library TV before he made it onto mainstream television shows like Ellen and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Grant Cardone decided to start repositioning his brand back in 2009 and only reached “everywhere” status in the last year or so. Michael Hyatt worked his way to CEO at Thomas Nelson Publishers over decades, establishing the credibility to launch a personal brand all about publishing and leadership.
There are many, many more examples. This marathon isn’t for everyone, since it adds hours of extra work and opens your brand up for criticism and scrutiny. The encouraging part is that with the Internet today, opportunities are more plentiful. Social media can build an audience around your brand much faster, increasing your pace.
If you have the personality for it, you’re doing work you love and in an industry you are passionate about, the race will be enjoyable and exciting.