The phrase “personal brand” is quite the buzzword(s) in PR right now. Along with “thought leader,” “cutting edge,” digital communications” and so on, PR pros love them some catch words.
However, I think the notion of a personal brand actually has some staying power. To have a personal brand is to know oneself and to show it to the world.
It doesn’t mean defining yourself in parameters that can never be adjusted or holding yourself to standards you can never reach.
At 30 years old I’m not quite sure I know exactly who I am. Hell, I don’t even know exactly what to wear each day much less possess the ability to define Meagan Guidry. But, I do know a lot about who I am at this point in my life and where I want to go from here.
So, how does one go about marketing a personal brand?
- Become a Thought Leader. By leading the way on certain subjects people will come to know you as an expert in your line of work. Find what interests you and get to know that subject well. Read about it, write about it and speak about it. When people say your name they will associate you with X. Thus, your occupation or specialty becomes ingrained with your personal brand.
- Show What You’re Good At. The best way to stand out in a crowd is to excel. If you’ve got a knack for something, wave your freak flag high and show off that skill. As long as you’re willing to help others better themselves along the way, you won’t be seen as a bragger or snob. Maybe somebody will even call you “cutting edge.” ;)
- Ask Questions. People love, love, love to talk about themselves, where they’re from, what they like, what they think, etc. By being inquisitive and asking insightful questions you can engage people and get them interested. People will associated you with higher level thinking and rely on your responses when they have questions of their own.
Ummmkay, but how do I go about becoming or doing those things above?
- Start a blog. Woohoo, I’ve already done that! Who cares if nobody reads it? It gets my thoughts out of my crrrazy head and down on paper (err, computer). A blog is a great way to get your ideas out there and slowly, people will find you. It may take six months and it may take 6 years but stick with it. Also, the more you write the better you’ll get at it.
- Use Social Media. Now, when I say use social media I don’t mean posting updates about your dog’s playdates every five minutes. Guess what? I. Don’t. Care. What I mean is, use social media to engage people and start conversations. Create a poll on Facebook, post a photo on Instagram and ask people to create a caption, ask for people’s opinions about a certain controversial topic on Twitter. You get the picture. The trick is to ask more than you tell. Remember, people love to talk about themselves.
- Comment on Other Blogs. Find blogs that interest you. Then, comment on them. It took me awhile to do this because I’m a big freaking scaredy cat. I felt naked as soon as I hit the “Post Comment” button but once I did, boy was I liberated! By interacting with people you have similar interests to, you’ll forge new relationships. Also, if you have a blog (see #1 above) include a link to your own blog, and encourage them to come check you out.