Why should you, as a business owner, worry about building your personal brand?
After all, your business is your brand, right?
Why bother building your personal brand when you’ve got so much to do to keep your business going?
Because it’s not the 1950’s anymore, that’s why.
Today, the personal and business brand are becoming increasingly intertwined, and the success of one leads to the success of the other, and vice versa.
Elon Musk is a great example. His companies – Tesla, SpaceX, anything else he’s founded in the last twenty minutes – are shaped and informed by Musk’s personal brand, which is ambitious, dreaming, technological, and future-oriented.
Gary Vaynerchuk is another prime example. His personal brand of being transparent, aggressive, and digitally savvy has profoundly influenced the way his company, Vayner Media, operates.
With Musk, Vaynerchuk, and countless others, their personal and professional brands have worked together symbiotically, each helping the other grow.
Bottom Line: If you want your business to be successful, you should work hard to develop your personal brand.
Of course, that raises the question: How do you build a personal brand?
You could hire one of the many companies that specialize in brand building, but you’re going to spend loads of cash if you go that route.
There are easier, far less expensive ways.
Here are 4 powerful ways you can build your personal brand without spending a dime.
Step #1: Define Your Personal Brand
Let’s start with the obvious. If you’re going to build a personal brand, you need to define it first.
You need to answer the question: What am I all about?
You can’t make any progress building your personal brand if you can’t answer that question.
Here are some questions to help you define your personal brand:
- What matters most to me, both personally and professionally?
- What can I offer the world that no one else can?
- What things get me fired up and excited?
- What do I want my legacy to be?
These questions can help you hone in on exactly who you want to be and what your personal brand should look like.
For example, you may be passionate about helping people achieve financial freedom through smart financial decisions. That’s the Dave Ramsey brand.
Or maybe you get excited about helping people operate at max capacity in all areas of life. That’s the Tim Ferriss brand.
Defining your brand will determine how you run your business, how you present yourself on social media, the types of clients you go after, and dozens of other things.
Take time to carefully think through this. Don’t rush it. It’s like buttoning a shirt. Mess this step up and everything else will be out of alignment.
Step #2: Create Content That Is In Alignment With Your Brand
How have Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Dave Ramsey, Daymond John, and other powerhouse entrepreneurs created personal brands?
One word: content.
Lots and lots of content.
Each of these people has created dozens, if not hundreds of pieces of content that promotes, sharpens, and enhances their brand.
They’ve all written books. They regularly share insights on social media. They create videos and podcasts and blog posts.
The point is, they’re all working hard to create content AND all that content ties directly into their personal brand. Everything they write, Tweet, say on YouTube, share at conferences, and live stream is intended to push their personal brand forward.
And while you can occasionally succeed in using just a single platform (see: DJ Khaled on Snapchat), the best personal brand builders are everywhere.
In his book Crushing It, Gary Vaynerchuk puts it this way:
For those of you new to this, that means [creating] content that is specifically and perfectly designed to suit the platform you’re using to disseminate it. The audience on Twitter isn’t looking for the same kind of content as Instagram followers. A Facebook post will have greater impact if it’s not just a cut-and-paste job from your blog or a ten-minute video that should actually be living on YouTube. Even if your audience overlaps among the platforms, people are in a completely different mindset when they’re visiting one platform than when visiting another.
In other words, your audience doesn’t only hang out on a single platform. They’re everywhere. In light of this, you need to create content on all these platforms.
One critical thing to note: Your content can’t be fluff like you find on Buzzfeed or other viral sites. Nobody is interested in your “Which Movie From the 90’s Are You?” quiz.
In order to build a powerful personal brand, you need to constantly give value to your audience. You should be regularly communicating things that will help your audience solve their hardest problems and achieve the success they desire.
This is how Brian Dean of Backlinko became a demi-god of sorts in the search engine optimization (SEO) world. Using what he calls the “Skyscraper” technique, Brian creates massive, in-depth, incredibly valuable blog posts about SEO techniques. As a result, people now look to him as an authority when it comes to SEO.
If you want to build your personal brand, you should be doing the same kind of thing. Write amazing blog posts. Do Q&As on Facebook Live. Use the popular Reddit AMA technique.
All these things cost zero dollars and yet they significantly increase your personal and business brands.
Step #3: Be Your Crazy Reserved Smart Hilarious Self
This is important. In order to build a strong personal brand, you need to be 100% yourself.
If you’re not high-energy like Vaynerchuk, don’t try to imitate him. You’ll look stupid and everyone will see through it.
Remember, your personal brand is about what you can uniquely offer the world. We don’t need a clone of Tim Ferriss or Tony Robbins. If your thing is being smart, analytical, and slightly reserved, be that way.
You won’t appeal to the bro-preneurs who are always showing off their Lambos and talking about how much they’re rocking things, but you will appeal to guys like Nate Silver, who created the powerhouse, stats-heavy website FiveThirtyEight.
Here’s the thing: when you try to be someone else, you come off as a poor imitation of them and everybody can see it.
Do you really think you can be a better Sophia Amoruso? Forget about it.
But, and I realize this sounds like something you’d hear in grade school, no one can be a better you. In other words, no one has the exact blends of talents that you do.
Capitalize on that when you build your personal brand.
Step #4: Get Your Digital Network Hustle On
If you’re building your personal brand from scratch, you’re going to need to start doing some networking.
No, I’m not talking about awful meetup events where you pass out a bunch of business cards and drink stale coffee.
I’m talking about digital networking. In other words, appearing on other people’s more-established platforms.
How can you do this without appearing like a fame-monger trying to take advantage of people?
It’s pretty easy actually.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: most people with platforms are desperate for more content.
Producing content takes a lot of work, and if you alleviate that problem for someone, you’re suddenly their best friend.
Here are some simple ways you can leverage other people’s platforms in ways that helps both them and you:
- Guest Blogging – There are dozens, if not hundreds of blogs in your industry that need new content every day. If you can provide them with a high-value post that speaks directly to their readers, both of you benefit. You increase your personal brand and they get more traffic.
- Podcasting – As with guest blogging, there are numerous opportunities to be on podcasts. Typically, getting invited to be on a podcast is a little more time consuming, but if you’re willing to do it, it can massively propel your personal brand forward.
- Creating Expert Roundups – This is the backdoor into using someone else’s platform. An expert roundup is typically a lengthy blog post in which numerous experts are quoted on a particular subject. Sometimes these quotes are collected directly via email, while other times they’re collected from what has already been written by the expert.
Once you’ve created the roundup, you then do an outreach campaign in which you personally contact all those mentioned in the article. You inform them that you mentioned them, thank them for their work, and politely ask if they’d be willing to possibly share what you’ve written on social media.
There’s a bit more to it than this (read this article for more) but that’s the gist of it. Putting the time into doing this can generate a huge amount of traffic for you if you do it right.
This might all seem like a lot of work. And you’re right, it is. But if you want to build a powerful personal brand from the ground up, you have to be willing to put in the time.
You Are Your Business and Your Brand
Ultimately, you are both your business and your brand. Would Apple have ever reached such massive success without Steve Jobs driving the company? Not in a million years.
Would Jen Sincero, who wrote You Are A Badass, have been able to build a seven-figure business apart from her snarky, funny, insightful personal brand? Nope.
The same goes for Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Warren Buffet (yes he has a personal brand), and every other successful entrepreneur.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start building your brand.