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What Is Personal Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Career?

What Is Personal Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Career?

The idea of creating a personal brand can be a little intimidating and confusing. Are you feeling left behind in the world of personal branding? In this article, you will learn why personal branding is important, regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate employee, and how to take simple steps to start, build, and enhance your personal brand.

The Rise of Personal Branding

Personal branding is much more than just a logo, color scheme, or personal image.

The rise and domination of social media platforms has created entirely new categories of people that we now call “influencers” who seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly achieve celebrity status.

Musicians, actors, and other creatives have exploded their presence around the world by using personal branding. Small, start-up businesses have expanded into marketing powerhouses with global audiences and customer bases simply by building personal brands.

Personal branding is now an entire industry in itself with branding coaches and consultants that specialize specifically in helping you build your personal brand. There are books, online courses, videos, and entire companies that are dedicated to helping you build your personal brand. But where do you start?

What Is Personal Branding and Why Should You Care?

The term “branding” was once associated primarily with big businesses…you know, those nameless, faceless mega-companies delivering everything from toothpaste to breakfast cereals to automobiles. However, the social landscape has changed.

Personal branding has become a vital part of success in any business, especially when you are the “face of the brand.” Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or you work for a small business or large corporation, how you portray yourself, both in-person and in the “web-o-sphere,” can make a big difference in both your short- and long-term success strategy.

When you consider some of the largest companies (“brands”) in the world, don’t you also associate the personal brand of the owner with that corporate brand? For example, when you think of Amazon, doesn’t Jeff Bezos also pop into your mind? What about Virgin Group and it’s over 200 companies—Richard Branson, right? And who can separate Apple from the late, great Steve Jobs? The same goes for Oprah Winfrey and her various brands, Elon Musk with Tesla and now SpaceX, and the list goes on.

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Why Is Personal Branding Important to Your Career?

Personal branding empowers you to stand out in your chosen field. Whether you are an employee looking to rise up and climb the corporate ladder or a CEO building your own entrepreneurial venture, personal branding brings you credibility and attention. Building your personal brand adds a key element to your company’s marketing strategy and builds stronger internal communication with your team.

Personal branding even affects you if you are in the job market seeking employment. Research has found that an astounding 70% of employers use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to research prospective employees before hiring them. Nearly half (48%) check up on their current employees using social media, and over a third (34%) have either reprimanded or fired and employees based on social media posts and other content found online.[1]

Why is personal branding important? Because the world is watching! How you present yourself online does make a difference, even if you think no one cares.

How Social Media Affects Your Personal Brand

In our fast-paced, modern technological age, social media seems to have virtually taken over our lives. Most of us are on multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is now commonplace to see people glued to their phones, scrolling through social media platforms and engaging in other online activities.

When it comes to your personal branding, you can be assured that your audience is on social media, too. How you present yourself on your chosen platforms will determine their level of engagement.

Researchers have pointed to a phenomenon called “participation inequality” to explain the importance of online engagement. For every person actively engaging with your content (i.e., liking, commenting, reposting), there are likely to be 9 others who are engaging intermittently and 90 more who are just lurking. Yes, the world is watching indeed.[2]

Personal Branding: Not Just for Influencers Anymore

You can benefit greatly from personal branding, regardless of whether your intended outcome is becoming an “influencer” in today’s social media space.

Rory Vaden, the co-founder of Brand Builders Group, pointed out the importance of personal branding for everyone when he stated:

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“People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like. We have relationships based on trust and mutual connections. There’s just something about a connection with a human being that creates a level of endearment and customer loyalty beyond any relationship a company could ever reach. The strong bonds people have with one another can’t be overestimated.”[3]

An Important Element of Your Personal Brand

Virtually every authority on personal branding suggests that you start by answering questions surrounding your core values. This is the foundation of your personal brand.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What is important to you?
  • What do you value?
  • What do you cherish?
  • Who do you want to impact the most?

The answers to these questions will help you to create the connection you need with your audience and build your personal brand.

To get started creating or growing your personal branding strategy, you can consult this comprehensive infographic, which will help you stay on track with your personal branding strategy.

7 Ways You Can Start Developing Your Personal Brand Today

1. Start With the End in Mind

What is your intention behind personal branding? To start defining, developing, or building your personal brand, first decide what you want to accomplish with your branding strategy. For example, is your intention simply to present yourself better or more clearly in the world? Or do you have a specific business strategy in mind for building your personal brand?

When working with my own coaching and consulting clients, I have developed a simple strategy that I call “The 3 Core Questions” to consider before you take any step that involves connecting with your audience.

That means that before you create a video, before you write a blog article, before you write an email, before you put out any message in any format or platform, answer “The 3 Core Questions” as clearly and in as much detail as you can. Adding this single strategy to your messaging will push more power into your personal brand.

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The 3 Core Questions:
  • Who are you? (your message, your story, your professional core values)
  • Who are you talking to? (your audience, their interests, their desired outcomes)
  • What do you want them to do next and why? (your calls to action and irresistible offers)

2. Be Authentic

Be yourself, but know your stuff! Your goal in personal branding is to build your tribe. And your tribe is likely to be people who have similar interests, desires, and goals as you. Share from the heart. Tell your story.

Don’t fall prey to the idea that you can “fake it ’til you make it.” While that may work for a while, it isn’t going to fool most people for very long.

Remember that part of personal branding is about creating authority and respect among your tribe. You can do that by staying a step ahead, anticipating their needs, and responding to their desired outcomes. There is magic in the combination of being yourself and still giving your tribe what they want.

3. Be Clear in Your Focus

People’s attention span is short these days. In most cases, you will run into challenges if you try to be everything to everyone. Determine who your audience is based on your own core value system and then clearly craft your messaging toward them.

You’ll want to grab your audience’s attention quickly with each piece of content you create while staying true to your brand throughout.

4. Choose Quality Over Quantity

It’s far better to have 1,000 loyal followers than to have 100,000 people who aren’t 100% clear about who you are. This is especially true if your ultimate goal is to monetize your tribe. There is a saying in marketing that “a buyer is a buyer is a buyer.” What that means is that if your followers buy one thing from you, they are far more likely to take you up on your future offers, too.

Even if monetizing your audience is not your intention, you will achieve much better engagement and interaction among people who align with your core values.

5. Be Consistent

Because your personal brand is built around your core values, it is essential to be consistent about how and when you show up. That means consistency in your messaging, your overall branding (like logos, color schemes, etc.) and even when you are posting your content.

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For example, if your YouTube audience and followers expect you to post a video on Friday mornings, then stay consistent with that schedule, even if you don’t make specific announcements about when your content will appear.

6. Speak to Your Tribe as Individuals, Not in GroupSpeak

People in general love to be included as part of the group, but they actually respond more enthusiastically when being addressed as individuals. Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and heard the person refer to the audience as “you guys” or “my tribe” or even worse, “my followers”? It tends to sound impersonal, not to mention the implied ego trip that creeps in with references like that.

Let’s face it, each of us is our own favorite subject, and even though we love being part of a tribe, we also love to be respected as individuals. One of the best ways to make a deeper connection with someone is to use their name.

In a social media post or when addressing your tribe as a whole, even though are you speaking to a group, set yourself up for success by using “you” instead of “you guys.” [Hint: read back over this article and you’ll see how I have been doing that with you all along.]

7. Own Your Brand

I mean this both figuratively and literally.

Figuratively speaking, walk your talk both online and offline. Authentically own your brand by living the lifestyle projected in your personal brand.

If you are building a company structure around your brand, then literally owning the social media handles and extensions, domains, trademarks, and any other intellectual property is an important part of owning your brand.

Final Thoughts

Even if you started out with some confusion about personal branding, as you can see, the process can be simple, but it does require some thought and a little effort. This article has laid out the basics of personal branding and a few key strategies that you can use to build or enhance your personal brand.

Stretch yourself, reach a little higher, get clear on your personal brand, and you will see both short-term and long-term results in your business or career.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jeffrey Howard

Jeffrey Howard is a Serial Entrepreneur, Peak Performance Coach and Consultant, Bio/NeuroHacker, Speaker, Author, Trainer, Musician and Producer

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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