Sunday, March 6, 2016 - By Andy
COMMUNICATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
In part one of this post we looked at the steps involved in crafting your personal brand. Part two now looks at how we might communicate this brand.
The first step, once you know your product (i.e. yourself), is to understand who your audience is, work out where they are, how you can reach them and the tone of voice / language you should use when doing so. Always taking care to keep your brand consistent, relevant, and representative of the real you. Above all keep it professional – if that is the image you want to portray.
Next think about your approach to communication. Do you take a direct approach for example via one to one emails, calls, meetings or at events. Or do you take a content based approach using social media and other information sharing techniques. Ideally use a mix of the two – direct and content based.
Once you’ve identified your target audience build a contact database (which you can add to as you build your network) of the type of people you want to communicate with. Consider what you can offer and what you need to tell them. What’s the generic information you need to pass on and what bespoke information do you need to communicate to specific sub-groups or individuals within the list. Make sure you have thought about how your audience can benefit from what you are telling them / offering. For example, does the information help them build their own knowledge of a certain area? To help you with this run a critical eye over what you are saying and ask yourself ‘so what?’.
Think about how you are going to reach those on this list. Is it appropriate to make contact via a direct message or phone call, or perhaps you can look out for events where you know they (or people like them that you may not know yet) will be attending? Of course, you aren’t aiming to meet them to directly pitch your brand, that could come across a bit strange. But you are aiming to meet them to convey your offer, ensuring that your own brand comes across in the overall conversation. I.e. your niche, areas of interest, the value you can add etc.
CONTENT BASED APPROACH - MAKE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND SPEAKING AT EVENTS
While the direct approach can be adopted as part of the overall plan, making good use of online platforms is a great way to communicate a personal brand as you can build a community and easily share information, thoughts, opinions and more in depth written content (original and share content created by others).
The obvious platforms to use in a professional context are Linked In and Twitter, along with blogs that are relevant to your interests and target audience. There is a commonly used modern saying, content is king, as content allows us to communicate with an audience in a way that can be genuinely useful to them. You’re not there with the ‘sell, sell, sell’ head on, you’re there with the share/inform approach – a giving mentality. This approach is much less intrusive and more likely to be of use to your audience, who in turn are much more likely to be receptive to it and engage with you.
Creating and sharing content is a great way to show the world what your areas of interest are and what view points you may hold on certain matters. The two main ways of doing this are;
- By sharing content others have created whether it be published in mainstream media, or posted on a personal or company blog.
- By creating content yourself. Again this could be distributed through mainstream media, however modern technology is a wonderful thing and means we no longer have to wait until someone approves of what we have created before it can be published for the world to see. There are numerous free blogging platforms such as Wordpress, Blogger and Tumblr, which can be easily set up and provide an almost instant outlet for your thoughts. Writing your top 5 or 10 tips on a certain topic can be a good place to start.
And you don’t have to limit yourself to written content. Clips can be easily uploaded on You Tube and Vimeo and there’s also software out there enabling you to create and upload podcasts. Or perhaps you could present at events or sit on relevant Q and A panels.
However you choose to get your content out there, try and make sure it's useful, engaging and targeted to your audience. Be regular and consistent in your posting and invite comments and engagement.
Sharing links to content (your own or other peoples) can be easily done using Twitter and Linked In. Platforms such as Facebook can also be used, but whichever platform you choose make sure its appropriate and that your audience can be found there. Bear in mind that Facebook can tend to be a less formal medium. If you have a Twitter account from which you spit random thoughts and share the fun stuff with friends, perhaps consider setting up another account from which you can cultivate a more professional community with which to share content related to your profession and /or desired personal brand.
When sharing other peoples content feel free to make a comment about it in your Twitter or Linked in post – or invite others to respond with their views. Similarly, when sharing your own content, invite the comments of others. The aim is to try and engage with the readers and grow an online audience to whom you can position yourself as a knowledge point, or at least an interested party on a certain subject. In turn this will hopefully attract others with similar interests and potentially lead to you meeting people in the field in which you hope to progress, and ultimately identify opportunities to enter or develop in that area.
As you are attempting to craft and promote a professional brand image, be careful what you post/say/do as everything can have an impact on the way you are perceived. A quick Google search will bring up some good (or bad – depends which way you look at it) examples of posts which have backfired on the poster.
And remember to set yourself goals and targets when trying to build an online community with which to communicate your brand. For example, number of followers, shares, retweets.
In summary a personal brand can help to differentiate you in a competitive marketplace. A 3 step approach can help you create your brand and position yourself in a desired way to the outside world; get to know yourself, decide who your audience is and then communicate your message clearly. This process takes time and patience and your target audience must be nurtured. Finally make sure you adopt ways of measuring your impact and success to identify if your strategy is working, or if you need to be flexible in your approach.
For help with creating and communicating your personal brand, please get in touch.