So, you are a savvy executive that understands the value of building a powerful personal brand, but don’t know where to get started?
Fret not, this guide will show you the 3 first and most fundamental steps you need to take so you can start on this journey with solid foundations.
Step 1: Define your why?
The one constant challenge every leader has to deal with, is that they are starved for time. The demands on their time drastically outstrip the time they physically have available. Prioritisation skills are likely one of the biggest determining factors in how successful a senior leader will be. Ultimately, this is where the war is won.
Deciding to work on your personal brand will translate into additional demands on your time, a demand you will need to prioritise against everything else. This means that you need to be very clear on why you want to work on your personal brand and what a good Return on Investment looks like for you.
If you input say 2 hours a week into your personal brand, what kind of result will make it worth your while? Is it about connecting with industry peers? Is it building pipeline for your organisation? Or is it getting requests to appear on podcasts, do consulting on the side, or being approached for that next big gig?
Whatever the answer for you is, make sure you are clear on what you want to achieve and, once you are there, ask yourself: “Is this worth investing (and jealously guarding) X hours a week to work on this?”.
If the answer is no, then either you are not looking at the right prize (think bigger, think more creatively), or you are not fully sold on the premise of personal branding, or quite simply, you identify you have other avenues you believe would provide you a better return for your time. The last of these options is to be applauded, and may mean you should park your personal brand (and this article) until a later date. The former two, however, may mean you need to dig a bit deeper into it. Put your personal branding on hold until you get a clear YES to the prioritisation question.
Step 2: Sketch out your target audience
Like any form of communication, it is never about the communicator, but always about the audience. What you want to say doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you need them to hear and do.
The same goes for your personal brand. You are working towards becoming more visible, making a name for yourself with a new audience, a new target market as it were. However, as we hinted at in Step 1, building a personal brand is a means to an end, and you are doing it because you want to get something out of it. Question is: how does your personal brand help you unlock this?
The automatic second question here becomes “Who needs to hear your message so you can create the value you hope to gain from it?”.
Identify who that who is. How do you think they will open doors to you? What are their roles? What are their interests? What would keep them up at night? Sketch up and build the personas of your ideal audience in as much detail as you can, because they are the key to your success.
The entire premise of a powerful personal brand is being visible to the right people, sharing the right offer, supported by the right narrative and content.
If you want to become a horticultural expert in Southwestern Holland, building a following of 10,000 real estate professionals near the Niagara Falls won’t move that needle much. You will know intuitively that no two contacts are created equal; the same absolutely goes in personal branding; so make sure you identify who your target market is and then ask the single most important question: what do they care about?
Step 3: Build a sustainable content strategy
You now know why you want to invest in building your personal brand. You also know who can enable you to achieve that why. The last ingredient of that equation is how you appeal to them.
First part of building that content strategy is understanding what they would want to hear from you. The content you create, the way you position yourself, the narrative you build, everything should be geared to appeal to that prime ideal audience (which is why this is so fundamental to get right).
Ultimately, you want to convey:
- Credibility – you know what you are talking about and are an established expert in your area
- Trustworthiness (people only buy from or refer people they trust)
- You are the best placed person to solve their problems
- Your offer – how you solve their problems
How can you position yourself, what should you talk about, so you convey all of the above to your ideal audience? This is the single most important driver of what your content strategy will become.
It may be useful for you to identify 3 to 5 Content Pillars – those are the 3 to 5 categories of content that 90% of your content will fit under, providing you with a structured framework to work and take inspiration from.
Once this is done, identify the frequency and cadence of your posting. Consistency is where personal brands translate into positive outcomes, so pick a quantity and rhythm that you can comfortably commit to for at least a year.
Once all of the above is sorted: execute. Execute consistently. Execute relentlessly. Execute with the clear end goal in mind.
Bonus Step: Find synergy fields
You now have all you need to confidently start building your personal brand with proper foundations. Congratulations!
To get you in an even stronger position, indulge us with an additional bonus step; that of finding synergies with other parts of your professional life. What do we mean by that? Look for areas where you are already providing your insights as part of your current role, and turn those into opportunities for content. Executives are frequently approached for advice, and some actually take those meetings. Why not record and share those meetings to the wider world? You just got yourself a podcast! Listen to the questions your peers and your teams ask you – could these turn into blog posts? Have you been keeping yourself up to date on the industry? Curate and share the best content, this is a great way of becoming the trusted voice in your space.
Played right, working on your personal brand can harness what you are already doing and just adding it to a new format and audience. Working smart is absolutely permitted!
Over to you, now! Take on what you covered in the steps above and position yourself as the trusted authority in your space, and keep at it. It may take weeks, it may take months, but remain consistent, keep learning, and results will happen… if, and only if, you did your homework!