Marketing guru Tom Peters said in 1997 that “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” This had been the central idea behind personal branding ever since he introduced the idea, but it does not ring a bell in 2017. Is it time for its redefinition? Let’s walk you through the recent changes on our approach to brand ourselves effectively online.
Then: It’s about building connections
Now: It’s about building trust
Personal branding is not about building superficial connections all over the world or becoming famous. It’s about getting a right representation of yourself across a right group of people for what you can do for others. Why does personal branding take incredible amount of time even though getting connected with people is easier? It’s because people need more than just superficial connection. They look for credibility and it’s not very easy to build. Entrepreneurs, business organizations and individuals need to stop wasting their time and resources in building a network of no use. Instead they must focus on building their credibility, so that the right people can connect with them.
Then: It’s for the employers and consumers
Now: It’s for the whole world and everyone in it
It is true that consumers want stories behind products and that they easily trust services when given a personal connection. That has been a reason for entrepreneurs to brand themselves. Similarly, employers look for more than qualifications on a resume and personal branding comes in handy for job-seekers. But times have changed that personal branding thrives beyond business-making and employment opportunities. Easy access to internet and the multitude of web applications cater the needs of people with various backgrounds having different purposes. Personal branding is no more a choice, but a norm that is expected for an authentic representation of oneself online, irrespective of purposes.
Then: It’s about online presence
Now: It’s about online relevance
Registering in all social media sites and throwing off minute-posts on our every move in order to create an online presence has backfired now. Online presence is no more a cliche for marketing and hence the numerous profiles one has online have started to give an impression that the person is of low in value. In addition to such second-rate impression, maintaining multiple profiles demand time and energy. It can also suggest that you don’t do anything productively in life other than promoting yourself.
Analyse your purpose for personal branding and work on a strategy around it. This exercise can help you clarify who your relevant target must be, which online profiles are necessary and what all values you can provide. Don’t just be online, try to be relevant.
Then: Focus on reaching
Now: Focus on sustaining
Personal branding efforts must be focused on sustainability than the reach. If you can’t understand this, be assured that personal branding is not for you. Even if you get across an audience, you won’t be there for long. Get in the best shape of your life, practice what you preach and build credibility in the work you do. Do not waste time trying to get across, because truly reaching out and sustaining your personal brand require a lot of substance from you. Make sure you work on that too. Proven talent and hard-won experiences are the way to build a sustainable personal brand. Not by mere online presence and excessive sharing on social media platforms.
Then: Personal Branding is for extroverts
Now: Personal Branding is even for introverts
Online profiles and social media had been favoring one part of the people who are well-versed with expressing and promoting themselves. Introverts, who are naturally shy, were admonished for not getting across online. Because of the changing times and a rising need to be authentic, introverts seem to willingly take part in creating their own personal brands. If conscious efforts are made to put oneself out there, introverts have a big advantage over extroverts in building a personal brand that is sustainable.
Then: It’s about being a thought leader
Now: It’s about being authentic and personal
Just because we have a voice and a handle to promote ourselves, we cannot expect to build an audience by opinionating on topics we never know of. In fact, days of thought leaders have long gone that we beat the same dead horse on certain subjects. In order to get more followers or to climb up the SEO ranking, we fail to play original and wonder why we’re not noticed. Becoming authentic with your personal branding starts with a clarity on your self-concept. Once you are certain of who you are, where you want to be, what your value propositions are and how you want to be seen online, personal branding gets into shape. If you then continue to lead all your branding efforts in accordance with your self-concept, eventually you will be authentic and renowned for the values you give to others. Note that personal branding is not in who you think you’re inside, it’s in what you do that matters.
Then: It’s in faking till we make it
Now: It’s in organic growth
The old adage that “Fake it till you make it!” may work for many people, in case of personal branding. But to truly sustain your brand, you have to be willing to let it grow organically or at least turn your focus on making it there, if you have already faked it. Of all the backfires one may get in promoting themselves online, being identified as a faker is the last thing one would want.
Then: It’s about personal report
Now: It’s about personal touch
Publishing random social media and blog posts on whatever is going on in our lives is certainly not the way how personal branding is done. Personal branding is all about adding a ‘personal touch’ to something of value you share with your intended audience. There’s a big difference between adding a personal touch and giving personal report. Make sure you get personal branding right.
Then: It’s what you think you are inside
Now: It’s what you do that matters
Self-concept and what we believe about who we are can only help us set in motion for an effective personal branding, but it’s entirely dependent on what we actually do. Apart from what you have mentioned about who you are online, are you seeking people and places in connection with it? Are you learning relevant subjects, sharing your relevant work and engage in meaningful discussions? Are you actually focusing on creating the values that you say you give? These are the questions to ask yourself to determine if what you do is in accordance with who you brand yourself as.
Then: Personal Branding
Now: Personal Advocacy
You can neither treat yourself like a product, nor hide by locking yourself in the room, but put yourself out there for others to reach you. There is not a standard strategy available for personal branding and it’s always up to how you would like to get across people and what your ultimate purpose is. At the end of the day, we’re not products to be branded and sold, but humans to be known for our originality and . There is nothing wrong in promoting oneself, because if we’re not going to believe in what we do, no one else will. That’s why it’s sensible to even rephrase the term personal ‘branding’ to personal ‘advocacy’.
Do you believe that the concept of personal branding has changed with time? Leave a comment below or reach out to the author via [email protected], content strategist from Webdefy – a new age digital marketing company that transforms brands online.