Google your name. What comes up? Do you like it? If you do, then good for you. You can build up on it, if not, you need to reexamine what you want to reflect out there because fact is, your future employers and/business interactions will be influenced by your personal brand.
Hannah Githuki, a business training consultant and author of ‘Flaunt Your Genius, a book on creating a brand that pays, believes that creating a personal brand could be what separates a success in any industry from a straggler. Care to start building your personal brand now? Hannah shares her top tips.
1. Know yourself
Personal branding is the story people tell about you when you’re not in the room.
“You really need to know yourself because you want to have full control over how your story will be told to your target audience. If you don’t tell your own story in your own way, then your audience will tell your story for you and that could have disastrous consequences,” she says.
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As a business, your aim should be to occupy people’s minds. You want them to fall in love with you. Branding is how you woo clients. Knowing yourself is thus also knowing what you want to be known for. You can only know yourself, or your business, by asking yourself what your dreams and goals are. “What don’t you like about yourself? What do you like to learn? What inspires you? Where do you see yourself in the future? Who do you admire most? What is your unique selling point?
Knowing the answers to the questions is the beginning of truly knowing yourself, which is the foundation on which you build your brand.
2. Look for existing opportunities
Branding is about searching for problems and offering value. Once you know yourself, the next step is looking for opportunities to take advantage of.
“Look for a gap, void, or need that must be filled and make money from it with your personal brand,” says Hannah.
Look around you, what does the world need that aligns with your personal brand? You identify this by looking at what exists and finding ways to add value to them. You can also listen to friends, family and customers for their reviews of a product or service. If you can find a way to alleviate their frustrations, you have seized an opportunity. Another popular way is to discover the latest trends in your industry. Lastly, you may try to explore your audiences likes and dislikes, passions and pet peeves and from that, figure out a product or service to offer.
Of course with this comes the problem of consistency. A good example highlighted in her book is being ‘Mama Mboga’ in the market who sells vegetables daily. If you suddenly decide to sell clothes, you may confuse your brand. It is more likely to be successful by expanding your business within the same niche instead of yo-yoing from one opportunity to another.
3. Be authentic
You may have come across the quote “Only you can be you, and that is your superpower.” It simply means the easiest way to create a brand is to be genuine. People can tell a disingenuous act easily. Start by mastering your craft, skillset or industry before building a personal brand. Only then will your content help amplify who you are. By doing so, your reputation as an expert in your field helps you to effortlessly build your brand.
“For people to trust your personal brand you also need to grow and improve upon it every day. You cannot afford to stagnate. You need to keep things interesting. And you need to keep learning new things,” explains Hannah.
She also writes that perfection can only be achieved from the daily grind. Faking it is not sustainable. You have to put in the work, learning, unlearning and growing until your brand reaches its potential.
4. Tell your own story
You have likely heard of the broken telephone story. Eight people stand in line and the first softly whispers a phrase; ‘bananas are better than biscuits’, into the ear of the person standing next to them. The person must whisper the same phrase to the person next to them and on and on. The last person reporting back the phrase as ‘bandannas are butter and lipsticks’.
This analogy explains your branding tactic. Your story may be distorted if it is not simple and clear. Tell your story before others do it for you. Defining yourself before others do makes your brand unshakable when threatened. Use social media, use the website. Tell your story.
“The clearer you can communicate your story, the less chances of someone messing it up and destroying you in the process,” says Hannah.
So what happens when people create the worst possible story about you which then becomes your brand? Hannah advices that you should not be afraid to start afresh. Additionally, pick and choose what is worth addressing and what is not. Confronting a non-issue may hurt your brand more than being silent.
Use social media which is the best medium to share your story and advertise yourself. Use your smartphone to video message your clients and connect with prospective clients.