Why Your Personal Brand Is Your Product
People do business with those they like and trust doing business with.
If there’s a single reason why you should invest in growing your personal brand it’s the statement -- and video -- above. In the world of business, sales and marketing are similar to dating whereby as humans we are attracted to other people that we can relate to and feel comfortable with.
Historically, before the internet, business was conducted on the golf course or over drinks at a bar for the reasons why we leverage social media today -- to let go of the corporate image and be ourselves.
Although I’ve never been in a boardroom meeting or job interview where my personal brand was the deciding factor in landing an opportunity I can attest to several times where it at least got my foot in the door and helped much more (to seal the deal) with the post-meeting follow up on Instagram or Facebook versus on LinkedIn or by email.
Perception is the reality.
Regardless of how big or small your network is online, we all have a personal brand, and what you likely don’t realize is before someone agrees to meet with you for coffee she's probably looking you up on Google.
Try this exercise and Google your name right now. Most likely your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles appear in the first few results. Now, click through and take a look at what a prospect you’re courting is going to see.
- Do you have a professional headshot?
- Did you last tweet a year ago?
- Does your Instagram show a mix of your personal hobbies and interests?
- Do you have a blog or site where you’re branding yourself as an expert in your industry?
- Does your employer or company share any of your content?
Then, ask yourself the following to conduct a personal brand audit.
- Are you leveraging social media to share company news and headlines?
- Are you using Facebook to network within industry groups?
- When you go to a business event or conference, are you connecting on LinkedIn versus exchanging business cards?
- Are you actively participating in open discussions on Twitter with industry peers?
Forget follower numbers -- in the big picture they’re irrelevant.
The reasons above are why your personal brand matters.
Here are five things that you can do right away to grow your personal brand:
One of the best business resources online today is LinkedIn, however standing out on the world’s most extensive social network requires having a profile that’s optimized to be found along with contributing daily on your personal newsfeed.
To get the most out of LinkedIn, update your profile to ensure that all of the possible fields are filled out. Most important is your summary, which is what appears first on Google when your LinkedIn profile URL appears, and is also the first line of copy under your name that appears. Take a look at my LinkedIn profile, and you’ll notice keywords such as “marketing,” “social media,” “speaker” and “consultant” in my summary. This is done by design to ensure that whenever someone is looking for a “social media marketing speaker” or “social media consultant” my profile will appear on the first page of search results.
The next key is to contribute to your feed daily to stay top of mind to your first-degree connections in the hopes they’ll like, comment or share your post, which will then expose your post to their contacts.
2. Industry groups on Facebook
Facebook has community groups for virtually every industry and job function (e.g., real estate, marketing, Facebook ads, etc.). The group that I founded three years ago (Social Media Masterminds) today has grown to over 10,000-plus members and is my personal go-to for business networking on Facebook. Likewise, there are groups that you can join right now to network, add value to the group and thus grow your personal brand or discover business opportunities.
In my article on "How to Grow Your Business Using Instagram," I shared how any business can tap into Instagram. However, the opportunities are endless for personal brand building when using Instagram Stories to share “a day in the life” at your company or to create short, 60-second videos using your iPhone to share industry insights and thought leadership, which will ultimately get others in your industry to take notice over time and view you as an "expert."
My advice to becoming discovered on Instagram is to share what you know how to do well (for free) mixed in with storytelling about your personal interest and hobbies. By giving direct value to someone and at the same time give them a glimpse of who you are “offline,” it will build the likeability factor that’s required for personal brand growth.
While writing for a well-known publication like Entrepreneur.com doesn’t happen overnight, right now you can hone your writing skills on Medium, Facebook Notes and LinkedIn, which offer immediate SEO value on highly visited websites and creates content that you can share across your social channels. Start writing about your industry and provide insights on how your industry colleagues can do their jobs better. Do this consistently and over time you’ll become discovered -- and then invited to speak at industry events.
5. Public speaking
Speaking at industry events like SXSW and Social Media Marketing World over the past several years has helped me grow my personal brand significantly. However, it takes time before you’re granted opportunities to speak at the mega-events in your industry, which is why networking online, contributing thought leadership content and being active within social networks all go hand in hand. Here’s a tip for getting the most out of conferences and industry events: Run a search on Twitter and Instagram for the event hashtag and then like and comment on the posts of those attending -- even if you aren’t physically there.