Maybe you’ve heard about personal branding, but you’re not sure what it is. Perhaps you think it’s for famous people. You may think it’s for someone that has something crucial to say—and that’s definitely not you. Or you may believe it’s trivial, a form of shameless self-promotion and nothing else.
But here’s the truth: You already have a personal brand.
You may be the cute tech guy from the 5th floor. Or you might be the guy that always leaves his trash cans out in the street until Wednesday evening. Or the guy that’s always late. Or— even worse—you may be the guy that never does what he says.
You may be the woman who’s always apologizing, or who’s all business doesn’t seem to care about her team’s personal lives.
As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, “personal branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Essentially, the question is not whether you have a personal brand; it’s whether or not you’re managing it. And if you want to have control over how you’re perceived, you’ve got to be intentional about it.
But before we get into the nuts and bolts of how it’s done, let’s land on a formal definition. Here’s the one that guides our work:
Personal branding is the intentional and authentic effort of ensuring the persona you project aligns with who you want to be.
Claudia Miclaus, our Director of Personal Branding, has strong opinions on the power of a personal brand. She says a personal brand is:
• Unearthed, not created. It comes from your core identity and what you stand for.
• The product of an intense self-discovery process.
• Authentic; a personal brand comes from your core values—not from what you think society demands of you.
• About leaving your audience moved and inspired, not just gaining followers or selling a product.
• Contributing your value to the world. It’s not empty self-promotion.
• About maximizing your strengths—not fixing your weaknesses.
• Sustainable—not a short-term solution.
“If you don’t teach people who you are and how to speak about you, they will follow you for the wrong reasons. Disappointments will be felt on both sides. Personal branding creates thought leadership. You get to serve the world. And that means you’ll feel better every day,” Claudia says with true conviction.
“The most important part of this process,” she adds, “is deciding what you stand for and where you are going. If you don’t know where you’re going, how on earth can you get there? If you don’t know where you’re going, no coach, course, mentor or company can take you there.”
Fortunately, you can begin to get some clarity right away with the following seven steps:
1. Define your top five values
As you do that, consider the following: How are you operating in the world? What makes you angry? How do you know someone has crossed a boundary of yours?
2. Define your vision
What do you actually stand for in the world? If you could make anything possible immediately, what would it be? If you won the lottery—$100M in cash—how would you spend it?
3. Define your mission
Why are you here? What is your calling? What small part of your vision can you make happen? What are the concrete steps you’ll take to do that?
4. Define your goal
Now it’s time to determine your main goal. Your goal gives you direction. If you want to go to Barcelona, you’ve got to book tickets and board the plane. But when it comes to your main goal, you’ve got to think a little bigger than that. Your main goal should scare you. The Power of Positive Thinking author Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” If you want to write a book, reach for bestselling author status. You’ll be that much more likely to achieve it.
5. Define your ideal customer avatar
Now that you know what you stand for and where you want to go, it’s time to define your audience. You have to know who you’re speaking with. If you don’t know, you and your message will get lost. There are tons of materials online to help you define your target audience. At Arcbound, we’re doing an incredible job at narrowing it down to your ideal customer avatar—a representation of exactly who you need to reach. We want you to know your audience to such an extent that you’ll understand what they dream about at night. When you address those dreams directly, they’ll never doubt their decision to buy from you.
6. Write a personal brand statement
No one wants or has the time to guess what you’re up to. Tell people exactly what you do and how you help them. When people see this statement, they should know exactly what they’ll get from working with you.
7. Market your message
Express your point of view to the world, and don’t be afraid to tell others what you want. You’ve heard, “Surround yourself with people that mention your name in a room full of opportunities.” That’s great. But if they don’t know which opportunities matter for you, they won’t be able to speak about you effectively. Be clear about how they can help you too.
No, personal branding is not just for famous people. In fact, many of them got to be famous because they worked on their personal brand. Because they stood by their message and created a community around it. Because they were intentional about their direction and because they marketed a clear presence.
No, personal branding is not only when you have something specific to say. You can create a personal brand by being who you are—intentionally, of course. There are millions of people who will relate to your message. And you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.
So, apply some of these techniques and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear your wins, and we’re here to help you rack up more of them.