(Originally posted by Thomas Smale in entrepreneur.com)
Your personal brand is how you appear to the world. Therefore, it serves to reason that a strong brand is preferable to one that is unpolished and uninteresting.
Once people know who you are and begin to identify you with a specific area of understanding or expertise, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the go-to person in your niche or industry.
The question is, how do you become more recognized? How do you build your authority and your following?
If you’re looking to build your personal brand, here are five ways to go about it.
1. Understand and be your authentic self.
Imagine how hard it would be to build a brand around your “fake” self. You would have to act a certain way, appear a certain way, and say certain things, regardless of how you felt about it. Some professionals suggest going about building a personal brand by shaping and molding what others see, but this is exhausting to maintain in the long run.
Your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are?
Never forget — people connect with other people. If you don’t appear to be a real person, or if it just looks like you’re faking it, how likely do you think others are to trust you? Even if they do buy into your fake persona for a while, the slightest bit of inconsistency could prove problematic.
Building a personal brand is first and foremost developing an understanding of your true self, and then sharing that with the world. Take your masks off and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.
2. Speaking engagements.
If you’re looking to build your brand, then you should be speaking on a regular basis. Naturally, this will mean developing your communication skills. If you speak in exactly the same manner others do, you will never stand out from the crowd.
Speak from a place of knowledge and power. Show that you know what you’re talking about, and answer questions in a way that serves your audience.
Show that you are confident. Some may criticize or disagree with you. The important thing is to remain open to feedback. Thank others for sharing their views, and if the points they raised were legitimate, determine how you can improve and do better next time.
Speaking engagements are opportunities to be seen and heard. Start small, and keep building. You may not land high-quality speaking engagements off the bat, but if you keep swinging, you’ll build your following and get invited to speak at bigger, more notable events and conferences. Buckle down and offer the greatest amount of value you possibly can everywhere you go.
3. Write thought leadership articles and participate in interviews.
Thought leadership articles and interviews establish your credibility. As with speaking engagements, landing the best opportunities takes time and effort, but if you remain open to what comes your way, pretty soon you’ll be showing up everywhere.
Take a look at the press coverage we’ve received to date. Anybody who regularly hangs out online should be aware of many of the brands listed there, but even if they aren’t, they probably know about publications and media outlets like Fox News and Time. This shows that others see you as an authority.
In addition to that, here’s an example of an interview I’ve done, covering one of the topics FE International is most known for; selling websites.
Getting an “in” with the media, online publishers and publications can prove challenging. However, it is a powerful way to show that you know what you’re talking about. Every outlet you build a connection with increases your brand authority.
4. Build your online presence.
Do you know how you’re appearing and coming across online? This is something you’re going to want to monitor on an ongoing basis, and improve upon whenever and wherever possible.
Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully fleshed out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible, and make you look professional? Are you using high-quality professional photography? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?
Do you have a website for your personal brand? One of the best ways to rank in search for your name is to build a website. This gives you considerably more control over your online presence than social media. It can’t hurt to add new content to your site on a regular basis, either. You can get a domain with this GoDaddy coupon for just 99 cents – so there’s no excuse to delay. Try to buy your own name if you can.
Don’t forget to Google yourself regularly to see how you’re coming across, how others might be perceiving you, and what they’re saying about you. You’ll have a tough time building a great personal brand without making a real effort to monitor and tweak it.
5. Remain a student of your industry.
No matter how well you know your industry or area of expertise, it would be wise to remember that things are changing at a faster rate than ever before, and you have to stay up-to-date with the latest changes and trends.
It takes time to build your personal brand. If you fail to stay relevant, all of your effort will be wasted. If you don’t want to be discredited, then you’ll want to keep a steady supply of articles, trade journals, blogs, and books on hand.
It also pays to learn new things, develop new skills, and to expand your knowledge. If you’re not growing, then you’re stagnating, and that’s the last thing you want to do as an entrepreneur.
Odds are you already know how important it is to stay on top of your game, but a friendly reminder never hurt anyone.
As you begin to sharpen your personal brand, the right opportunities will start coming your way. People will begin to see that you’re know what you’re taking about, and they’ll invite you to be a part of their stories or news pieces.
However, don’t forget how important it is for you to have accomplished something yourself. You can’t talk about what you haven’t done, because that will take away from your personal brand. Be open about your shortcomings and weaknesses. This will make you all the more human and relatable.