How To Build A Personal Brand Without Losing Yourself or Your Mind
If you’ve ever wondered how you can create a personal brand, that gets you taken seriously in your career or business, without losing yourself or your mind – you’re in the right place.
And if you read to the end, you’ll know the four things you need to do to build a personal brand that gets you taken seriously, without losing yourself or your mind.
If you read fiction and you hear names like John Grisham, James Patterson, Martina Cole, Lynda La Plante or JD Robb – you have certain expectations of each of the aforementioned authors.
And if you haven’t heard of the people whose names I just mentioned and you Google them, you’ll notice they’re authors with a common thread running through their books.
So, it’s not just that they write fiction about crime, it’s more that each of them writes a very specific type of crime fiction or legal thriller that is easily recognisable and is actually attributable to just them. Meaning a JD Robb book cannot be confused with one by Lynda La Plante for instance.
If you pick up a Lynda La Plante book, you don’t expect her to sound like JD Robb. And if for some reason you read the content of a Martina Cole book before you see the cover, you’ll know she’s not James Patterson.
Because that is what personal branding does for you. According to Google, a personal brand is a widely recognised and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.
What that means is that a personal brand is a bit more than your reputation, it’s basically the expectation you’ve created for people to have of you.
So, say you’re a small business owner, you’ll notice that what people think of you and your business has a huge impact on your profitability.
Because people don’t usually buy from you unless they feel like they know you, like you and can trust you. So, how do you get people to think what you want them to think?
And this isn’t about getting a publicist and doing a PR spiel to tell people what to think. Because no matter how much money you pour into advertising, people’s sustained experience of you or your business is the expectation they’ll have and tell their friends about when you’re not in the room to defend yourself or corroborate their opinion.
You might have noticed I used the phrase sustained experience, so it’s not a one-off. A single account of a bad customer experience can go viral at the speed of light and impact your reputation badly, but imagine if a group of people said, “That’s strange, so-and-so usually care about their customers” even before you’ve said a word. So, while it’s not necessarily that they’re calling the complaint a lie, it is that they’re saying “This is unusual” due to what you’ve made them believe from many interactions with you.
How to start?
The first thing is to decide where you are right now, but with an eye on where you are going, exactly how you want to be perceived and by whom.
I do not recommend that you leave it to chance because if you’re not intentional about crafting the narrative, someone will do it for you. And if you’re not proactive, you might not even know what your personal brand is or should be.
But with so many voices competing for the attention of those who are probably your target market, how are you going to stand out?
Because that is what a personal brand does for you; it helps you stand out even in what looks like a crowded marketplace.
So, you’re already running a business or in that career which is essentially the marketplace (and if you’re not doing that yet, I will tell you how to choose by the end of this) but for that your existing business or career in the midst of other businesswomen or careerwomen, how do you stand out?
In thinking of who you want to sell to and how you want them to perceive you, you got to start where you are but prepare for where you want to go.
I feel like what paralyses most women in business or career is feeling like because we don’t have the access or visibility or money or education we think is required for the end goal, that what we have and are right now doesn’t matter or isn’t useful.
And that’s a false story that we tell ourselves which doesn’t just keep us stuck and afraid, but it also gives us an excuse not to try.
Because if you think, “I make bedsheets that I want to be sold in a department store that has branches all over the world one day” but you know that right now, you don’t know the right person who would make the decision to stock your bedsheets at any department store, or you know that right now you don’t have the staff, equipment and fabric you need to make the quantity of bedsheets that a department store would potentially order – that can mess with your mind.
And can stop you from thinking, “I can make bedsheets and sell on my personal website for now.”
So, what you focus on not having paralyses you from making the most of what you do have. And this works with pretty much every business or career that I think about that you can be involved in.
Whether you’re a lawyer and you think, “Nobody’s going to take me seriously cos I don’t have the credit to get a lease on a massive building with signage in my city centre” or “I want to be an actress in big budget movies or long-running TV series but I haven’t got the money to pay for acting classes at any of the top acting schools in the world”, right?
Or “I want to write novels that are chick lit but I can’t compete with all the existing bestsellers so I’m not going to write anything.”
Meanwhile, as valid as these sound, they are excuses. Because your being a good lawyer whose clients love her work, has nothing to do with an expensive office that you don’t even need right now. Yet the fact that you can’t afford it is what’s stopping you from practising Law?
Just like you don’t have to be an alumni of a prestigious acting school to work right now where you are. Community theatre or low budget productions shot on a phone might be what you can do right now.
Say you sell homemade lemonade at a stall at a local market and you hope your product will be in stores one day, but you act like what you’re doing right now doesn’t matter so you don’t upgrade your mind or your methods.
So, you’re not at your stall on time, you don’t know how to calculate your profits and you don’t care, you treat your customers like they are dispensable, they can’t rely on you – it’s because you don’t have an eye on where you claim you want to get to.
Cos no matter how great your lemonade tastes, stores are not going to deal with you if you don’t show up to meetings at the time y’all agree you will and that’s just you so it’s not like unexpected events cos “life happens”. It’s just you.
Or if you don’t know how much you’re making cos you don’t know how to calculate your profits, it’s just not going to work.
And you might say, “Well, I don’t want to be in stores, I just want to supply my lemonade to people in my locale” and that’s fine BUT if people know you for being tardy or for treating customers anyhow, who do you think they’re going to call when someone in your locale has an event and they want to order a lot?
I can tell you, not matter how fantastic your lemonade tastes, you’re not getting that call. Because it’s not always the hardest working or the prettiest or even the most talented who always wins a contract, it’s whom people have a good reason to remember, that gets it.
So, start where you are and be faithful there with an eye on where you’re going, because you have no idea who is watching you and rooting for you.
I remember many years ago, I was working as an admin assistant at a medico-legal firm and it turned out that a psychiatrist whose reports I had edited well as part of my job, had a publishing company that I didn’t know anything about till he later told me, “I noticed how well you edited my reports from the first time, so I found out more about you and you have been consistent, so I’m going to help you publish your book.”
And that was how my first book got published, which I can tell you would never have happened if I was not faithful where I was, cos I did not have the money to get published.
So, start where you are and be faithful there with an eye on where you’re going.
The second thing is learn how to recognise people, things and situations for what they are – not what your ego or emotion would prefer – and treat them accordingly.
Bearing this in mind and implementing it is something that will help you prevent or learn from mistakes or situations that could derail your personal brand.
Just because your BFF says they’re going to help you doesn’t mean you should trust them 100% with your business. They could have good intentions but if they’re not reliable or teachable, their actions reflect badly on your business and customers interpret that as part of your personal brand.
Meanwhile, you can’t fire this person because of your personal connection or because you’ve got problems saying no, so you keep someone in/around your business, who was never meant to be part of your business that way.
Also, not every prospective customer or client is yours. Know this and know peace.
Even when they have and are able to spend the amount you charge, you don’t want to be driven crazy or into a grave because you’re unprepared to deal with their demands. You need to have a way, in addition to funds, to pick out who your client or customer is from the ones that present themselves.
If your instinct says not to go through with it, abort mission cos sometimes people go to a lot of trouble and expense to show you what they think you want to see. Then, you sign a contract and find that things are not what they seem but you can’t get out of it.
So, learn to recognise people, things and situations for what they are – not what your ego or emotion would prefer – and treat them accordingly is the second thing.
The third thing to do when you’re trying to build a personal brand, that gets you taken seriously, without losing yourself or your mind is don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I feel this is so important because I find that we think that we have to know everything about a particular thing before we venture.
We feel like if people know that we don’t know this thing at all or most stuff about the other thing, then they’re not going to take us seriously. Meanwhile, nobody comes to this life knowing everything about anything.
And isn’t it better to admit that you don’t know something, so that you can be given the space and the grace to learn, than lead everyone to believe you know something that you can’t research on the spot then you get hit with a huge bill, lawsuit or worse cos you messed up doing something you wouldn’t have done if you had known what you led people to assume you knew?
In my business, I am shocked by the number of creatives who admit they previously signed contracts they didn’t understand because they were too ashamed to admit they didn’t understand what they were asked to sign.
Which is why in the entertainment industry, there’s always someone that takes to social media every year to lament that years ago, they signed a thing they wouldn’t have signed if they had understood it but they didn’t ask questions.
Asking questions doesn’t make you weak or stupid; it just means you don’t know a particular thing. And it might be that you don’t know it cos up till that point, there’s been no reason for you to know it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to learn.
The fourth thing to do when trying to build a personal brand, that gets you taken seriously, without losing yourself or your mind, is to not copy anyone.
Let’s face it – no matter what you think you see on social media or anywhere else, you don’t know the true motivation, budget or network of the person you’re trying to copy.
Nobody is going to respect you for being a photocopy that’s not even well-informed.
It’s OK to notice something that somebody else is doing and be inspired to improve on something that you’re doing BUT what is the point of trying to compete with someone whose assets you don’t know or have access to?
You’ll be in a competition with someone who doesn’t even know you’re alive, and you’ll still be losing! Yet, you have something that makes you and your offering the answer to someone else’s prayers. What a waste!
There you have it; the four things you need to do to build a personal brand that gets you taken seriously, without you losing yourself or your mind.
But if you’re a woman in (or trying to enter) Law or Media and have a challenge with formulating your vision for your career or business for which you’ll need a personal brand OR now you know how to build that personal brand, your issue is how to communicate with your audience to get their attention for them to make them hire or book you, ask for my help by applying for your paid consultation here.