Nobody knows who you are or what you do, but you’d like to change that. You’re aware that you have skills, knowledge and something extraordinary to offer. You have achieved a level of success but no one has any idea you exist. Or, maybe you’ve always stood out from the crowd, you have that je ne sais quoi appeal, sort of that “It Factor.” Heck, perhaps you’re all of these things wrapped up in the finest packaging but [sound of crickets chirping and small violins playing] nobody, not ONE BODY seems to know, or care.
Somehow you’d like to change that, bottle that awesomeness up, get your secret Potion #9 along with the word out there, or on the other side of the spectrum, you’re done being the overlooked Joe Schmo, that simpleton wallflower, and you’re ready to dig deep and reinvent yourself. Well, it ain’t gonna happen overnight.
Think Eva Peron, who went from a street urchin to First Lady of Argentina; Lizzy Grant, who at one point couldn’t give away her music let alone have someone buy it; Varga-Pin-Up-Meets-Hipster-Alley-Cat Lana Del Ray, who transformed into a media, fashion and musical darling. In the case of Grant, it took some rebranding and a deep-sea dive into social media before…voila: A star was born.
Branding yourself is about giving your abilities and your uniqueness the vital recognition it needs. You become your most precious and marketable asset. You are the lone product. When you’re the asset, your business revolves around you and therefore you are irreplaceable. On a more personal level, take into account that if you’re not branding yourself, you’re relinquishing control of the perception others may have of you. Your reputation is at the mercy of what pops up when someone searches your name. Now do you understand the urgency of it all?
As Michelle Villalobos, Personal Branding Thought Leader, Speaker, Consultant & CEO of Mivista Consulting puts it: “It’s no longer about what you know, or even who you know, it’s about what Google says about you when people look you up.” If you were entangled in some shady behavior in the past, that comes up. Not good. You don’t come up at all? Well then, you don’t exist, do you? Not good, either. Time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
So where should you start? Sebastian Rusk Founder & Creator of SocialBuzzTV.com says you must first start by asking yourself the following questions in order to learn which direction you should be headed in: Who do I want to be? What is no one else doing? How do I make it a reality? “Self-branding today is about building relationships, having integrity and being consistent,” he says. “From there, you must be transparent and extremely authentic.”
And, while on the topic of authenticity, Villalobos chimes in that if a brand is too manicured or manufactured, it will ring inauthentic, and ultimately fall flat. “People want to do business with people, not with brands,” she says. “You have to feel human for others to connect with you.”
Part of having the ability to get others to connect with you has much to do with how you articulate what makes you unique. When coming up with a name for your brand, stay away from clichés but make sure to integrate effective plays on words, rhythms or witty concoctions. Adopt whatever you can to distinguish yourself and stand out from the crowd.
Once you know what sets you apart from the rest, you must capture it in a visual form for the world to see with catchy, concise words telling the story and visuals the narrative. Radio Wright, Online Dating Guru & CEO of EDatingDoc.com, places an emphasis on the importance of visuals: “The image you put out there, the one you allow others to see of you has a lot to do with how a person will perceive you, and ultimately influences their treatment of you,” he says. “First impressions are not only lasting, they’re indelible.”
So you’ve done your mind map and you know what you have to offer, you have the perfect catchy name, and you’ve taken professional pictures of yourself that suit your brand and image. Now you just need to put your name out there..and by out there, you should be thinking EVERYWHERE! First, buy your URL and create your very own site even if, as Villalobos states, it means doing a one-page profile and forwarding your URL to that.
Set up a blog via sites such as Blogspot.com or WordPress.com, both of which are very user-friendly, and remember you can always view tutorials on YouTube to get you started. Next, fill out your on-line profiles everywhere: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Profiles, Pinterest, and of course YouTube, and link each of them back to your website.
You may now proceed by engaging others on the many social media platforms out there. The Golden Rule you ALWAYS want to follow is: Don’t sell! The days of the hard sell and being bombarded by advertisement are over. Buyers and consumers are now in complete control and if you’re not consistent or don’t follow through with your business promises, guess what? People find out in an instant. Build genuine professional relationships by sharing ideas and thoughts, listening to feedback and providing value.
Rusk believes that buying behavior in today’s market is mostly comprised of peer recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals. “These are, thanks to technology, the most powerful marketing engines on the planet,” he says. “The old adages of ‘Let your reputation precede you’ or even better yet, ‘People do business with those they know, like and trust’ are very much alive and well.”
Look on the bright side, maybe you can market what made you feel like an oddball or out of sorts as a kid as one of the factors that makes you inherently original. People always want to hear compelling stories and work with interesting people — in the end, we will always gravitate toward the genuine and the extraordinary.
Take a look at a few sites to visit for personal branding advice you can’t afford to overlook because they’re FREE.
Michelle Villalobos’ site offers wonderful free content on personal branding that can be applied to just about any career field or situation; MichelleVillalobos.com.
The Reach Branding Club is a site that directs you to networking opportunities and teleseminars that’ll help take your personal brand to the next level; ReachBrandingClub.com.
Marie Forleo is at the top of her game. The Motivational Coach & Self-Branding Guru’s comprehensive website is sure to be one of your favorites; MarieForleo.com.
Author and popular Blogger Seth Godin has insightful e-books and manifestos on branding you can download directly from his site all completely free of charge; SethGodin.com.
Forbes has called him one of the most connected individuals and they’re right because Relationship & Marketing Specialist Keith Ferrazzi has great resources; KeithFerrazzi.com.
Find out how Gary Vaynerchuk transformed himself from Blogger to Social Media Mastermind with expert advice on self-branding; GaryVaynerchuk.com.
If you’ve tried just about everything but your brand still isn’t coming along as you expected, visit the spitfire of Brand Strategist Erika Napoletano; ErikaNapoletano.com.