3 secrets to simplify personal branding
A proven strategy designed to help you develop a compelling and cohesive story about who you are, what you do, and what makes you interesting.
I was in a marketing workshop recently and the presenter asked the room if anyone actually thought of themselves as a “brand.”
I hesitated. My inner thoughts went something like this:
“I mean…yeah. I’m supposed to say yes, right? I’ve taught personal branding workshops all over the world. I’ve built a lot of my career on my personal brand. I sell personal branding to other people.”
But no one raised their hand.
I didn’t want to be the only one to do so.
So I stayed quiet. And then I started wondering what a personal brand actually means.
To me, personal branding is how you got from A to B, maybe even A to Z.
It’s the thoughts, words, and feelings that come up when someone sees or mentions your name.
It’s the relatable story of your life that you are passionate about sharing with others.
It’s not a brand. It’s just who you are and why you are that way.
“Personal branding” is a terrible term.
It’s intimidating. It’s corporate. It’s de-personalized. But it doesn’t actually have to be this way.
The problem with the concept of personal branding is that people think that they can step right up and receive their personal brand from a workshop, online course, or blog post.
Nice try, kids.
Personal branding takes time. You need to self-reflect, commit to communicating what you’ve learned, and share that over and over again as you learn and grow as a person.
Let’s say you’re a freelance designer living in Austin, Texas. You differentiate yourself from other designers in the area by selling yourself as a “process-oriented and innovative visual designer with a specialty in designing for real estate.” You can’t just show up to an interview with that on a piece of paper. You need proof.
You have to have a portfolio of work in the real estate space. You need testimonials from previous clients that speak to your organization and adherence to a process. You definitely need to come with ideas on how you can innovate for your next client to get the gig.
But how do you collect all of that stuff and tie it all together cohesively?
I’d like to introduce you to Hannah Morgan.
She’s a personal branding expert and career innovator with a strategy for developing and refining your personal brand.
In partnership with about.me and Skillshare, she created an awesome 30-minute tutorial on how to create a bio that reflects who you are, what you do, and where you want to go.
Here are my favorite tips from her process that I think will help you see building a personal brand as something you can start doing today.
1. Discover: Reflect on your passion, skills, expertise, and impact.
Hannah’s Skillshare class comes with a really simple worksheet of questions that will push you to think about these four areas of your story. The questions will help you narrow in on how you can and want to make a difference based on your skills, passion, and expertise.
This four step reflection process will help you really define what’s important to you in all aspects of what you do and what you want to be known for. Be honest in this reflection. Think about what you’ve done well, and not so well. Dream big.
2. Craft: Communicate who you are.
You know what you like to do, what you’re good at (and not so good at), what sets you apart, and what you want to do with all of that — so let’s put it into a cohesive message.
If you can’t communicate your personal mission, whether it’s to get your first freelance gig, your side hustle, or a pitch to get that promotion at work, you won’t get anywhere.
You need to be able to concisely put into words your goals and why you’re the best person to accomplish those goals. Hannah helps you by giving you three ways of communicating all of this: the summary, the social media bio, and the pitch. All three will come in handy as you’re trying to get people to trust and respect you, in any aspect of life and work.
3. Share: Take action and put yourself in front of the people who care.
You’ve done all this work, now what?
It’s time to identify where to actually put yourself online.
One of mine (and Hannah’s) favorite tricks is to put the most important information about yourself in your email signature. Once you’ve created an about.me page, you can actually get a simple and free email signature to add to the end of every email you send. It keeps your email signature short (no one wants to see four inches of text, quotes, pictures, and links) and directs people to a place where they can learn more about you.
It’s also smart to keep it simple.
Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to showcase your newfound personal brand on every single social channel out there. Stick to one or two that you enjoy using. If you’re having fun with it and being authentic, the fans, followers, or whoever you want to come, will come.
Personal branding doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to feel authentic, or as if you’re trying to be a brand. It’s much bigger than your Instagram handle or what your website looks like. Personal branding is a great exercise in self-reflection and self-awareness.