Since 2016, I’ve been giving workshops on personal branding around the country to youth and inspiring entrepreneurs specifically pertaining to digital platforms. One thing that seems to come back over and over is how burgeoning entrepreneurs have a hard time with recognising the importance of developing their personal brand at the same time as they are putting together their new business. Also, in speaking with other entrepreneurs about their personal brand image on social media platforms, many told me that they wanted “the work to speak for itself” or that they didn’t really like to “put themselves out there” for fear of being judged. The thing is, in today’s fast-moving world, digital platforms present an INSANE opportunity like never before to create a direct relationship with the target market you’re trying to reach, ask them questions, get to know them as they get to know you beyond what you are attempting to sell to them. Talent remains super important of course, but it’s also one’s ability to brand one’s self that makes a huge difference. In today’s day and age, a founder’s personal brand is as important as the brand he/she has created. A great example of that is a group of dudes that I really like, The Muesli Boys. The Muesli Boys are the founders of a French Startup based in Paris called Dear Muesli and you’ve guessed it, they sell organic granola. What the boys have done is, with 0 marketing budget and very little time, they’ve created a strong brand presence for their business Dear Muesli as well as their personal brand (collectively) with the Muesli Boys brand. The Muesli Boys account tells the behind the scenes story, shows us who they really are, what they like, their strong work ethics, facets of their personality, they ask their audience questions and have basically created a strong personal brand presence in connection with their business.
Gonna keep it 100 with you, even I who has waxed poetic for the last couple of years on how entrepreneurs should all have strong personal brand, it wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I started really thinking of what that really means to me in terms of my business goals and what it tangibly look like to use digital platforms to tell said personal brand story.
Here are a couple of tips to get you thinking of what your personal brand is:
Who IS You?
If you saw the movie Moonlight, you’ll get the reference, but seriously, who are you and why should people care? When I facilitate my personal branding workshops, the first thing I do is go around the room and ask the participants to tell me 3 things about themselves, it could be anything. Then, we proceed with a fun exercise where they need to team up and come up with 5 questions to get to know the other person and vice versa. The objective of this exercise is not only to get to know a colleague or someone you’ve never met but to carefully think for yourself about who you actually are and what is the added value of being whatever it is you are in terms of your strengths. You can totally do this same practical exercise with a friend or a colleague. Whatever comes out of it (your answers), is the basis of your personal brand.
Show them the REAL YOU, son
Listen, like I said, in today’s day and age, buyers wants to connect with the people behind the brand. They want to get to know you, what are you about? Who are you? What’s important to you? Why do you do what you do? What are your social values? That said, you can easily answer all these questions by telling your story on the social media platforms the audiences you desire to reach are using. This storytelling can be a combination of your work, of course, but we need to see you, hear you. I totally get the fear of being judged, I felt like that too and I had to face that fear, the fear of sharing photos of myself or parts of my life without feeling like a narcissist. I figured, if people follow me, it’s because they want to see me so let me showcase who I am and what I care about. I mentioned in a previous post a series of tools that you can use to help plan it out because becoming more visible is one thing, but what does that really mean? How does it look like? What are you trying to say?
Getting Out There In These Streets
In terms of personal branding, networking and knowledge, participating in industry events will be key to developing your personal brand. You need to know what the industry trends are, keep abreast and then share that knowledge with your digital supporters. Your followers, possible clients and partners will look to you as a reference for what’s new in that field and possibly, you can even position yourself as a thought leader. Finally, getting out there and meeting people in person, people that might be fans of your work or even that follow you on social is super important in developing your personal brand as well as your business. It’s like you really exist beyond the digital world.
Engage, Engage, ENGAGE on social
Now that you’ve shown people the real you, whatever that might be, you need to engage with your followers as well as people you wish to be your followers on social. Not going to lie to you, this takes time and can be a slow organic build, but so worth it. Leave comments when you’re actually interested in someone’s content, follow people, answer comments left on your social media platforms whether you know the people or not. Tonight, I need to answer over 300 comments left on an Instagram post from a couple weeks ago (yikes!). I totally waited too long and was overwhelmed with the response but I still need to do it. If people take the time to engage with you, you need to engage back. Show your personality while doing it, that’s what’s expected, nothing more.
Hope this gives you some tips to get you thinking about your personal brand and planning for 2018. Have any other tips or maybe questions on personal branding? Let me know in a comment!
Happy New Year!