How to ensure your personal brand journey starts on the right footing

Building and sustaining a credible personal brand, one that lifts your profile and elevates your professional standing in the marketplace, doesn’t just happen by itself.

It takes serious time and effort over and above your ‘day gig’, not to mention some savvy planning, a strong dose of persistence and, sometimes, a little luck.

To think otherwise will likely lead to disappointment and frustration.

You know this, but I’ll re-emphasise for good measure

The competition for people’s attention is off the charts. It has never been tougher to win hearts and minds, along with a share of people’s wallets. Simply, it’s brutal out there folks!

We are constantly being smashed over the head (digitally speaking) by people telling us how great they are, how they can solve our challenges and problems in double quick time, and make us a squillion dollars in the process.

There is no shortage of people who are well-practiced in the craft of marketing themselves. They talk a big game, but scratch beneath the surface (easy to do today online) and often the substance in no way matches the hype. Not everyone mind you, there are some terrific experts and leaders out there, but in my experience, just because someone comes across like they know what they’re talking about, doesn’t mean they’re any good at what they do.

When everyone has access to a global virtual soapbox, there will always be people who take advantage of such an opportunity to further their own cause at the expense of others. They will leverage the technology ruthlessly, adding little value along the way and in doing so, showing little respect for their audience.

What all this means, however, is that many credible professionals – those in the trenches doing good work and running solid businesses – often get overlooked in the avalanche of informational noise and promotional messaging that engulf us all.

It’s time for the ‘good guys’ to rise above the sea of noise and mediocrity in the marketplace

We want to hear from credible leaders and experts who have the runs on the board, who can help us:

  • Become better at what we do,
  • figure out any challenges and issues we may have,
  • reshape conventional thinking by providing fresh ideas and insights, and
  • inspire and educate us with stories and examples that, in turn, spark thought and action.

As a result, these leaders and experts – or ‘credible authorities’, as I like to call them – are given the opportunity to profit from their ideas, their wisdom and their experience: a win-win for all concerned!

While we can’t beat the growing slew of self-obsessed marketers and their over-hyped messaging, we can start distancing ourselves from their kind, in turn providing the public with a trusted, credible alternative who’s going to contribute value in a way that’s genuine and respectful.

But where to start?

Even if you have been busy building your profile, publishing content, connecting with people on social media, and embracing speaking at events – it never hurts to stop, prop and check in. Review your progress, and interrogate why you’re doing what you’re doing and ascertain if you’re on-track (if indeed, you have a pathway that you’re following).

This ‘starting point’ focuses on self-awareness, and developing a sense of purpose and direction for your personal branding efforts.

Here are two key concepts along that line:

We need to understand ourselves

  • What are our goals?
  • What is our lofty ambition that will guide us through thick and thin?
  • What makes us tick?
  • What are our limiting beliefs (and how can we overcome them)?
  • What makes us unique in the marketplace?
  • What are our ‘flags in the ground? What do we want to be known for?

We need to understand the ‘lay of the land’

The world has changed irrevocably over the past decade or so, and things continue to evolve at warp speed.

Social media and online publishing platforms have empowered and emboldened people no end.

“Influence has shifted from the hands of a few, to the fingertips of many,” as the PR guru, Richard Edelman, once said.

Our behaviour has changed, and as consumers, we’ve never been more vigilant.

But are we fully aware of opportunities that come with that? Do we know how to position ourselves for today’s ‘Reputation Economy’?

It’s a powerful advantage to fully recognise and understand the breadth of benefits and opportunities that come with being an active participant in today’s connected, digital-first world.

We can all:

CREATE, publish and distribute multimedia content on a global scale.

BUILD an audience and communicate directly with those who follow us.

CULTIVATE an engaged following of champions and advocates for our personal brand. What it is we do and what we stand for.

AMPLIFY our voice and grow our sphere of influence in the marketplace.

ESTABLISH (and expand) sustainable businesses off the back of our personal brand.

These things are very real. We see genuine stories of these things happening all the time. It’s really exciting!

So, shouldn’t we be seeking some sort of ‘growth hack’ that will fast-track things for us?

Hey, maybe you’ll find the odd shortcut to achieve some element involved in your personal branding journey, but it’s certainly not going to be a substitute for putting in the work required to build genuine influence and impact in the marketplace or industry in which you operate.

And it all starts with self-awareness and a well-developed sense of purpose and direction.

Put the foundations in place

Let’s get a good grasp of ourselves and what we want to achieve, and then look outwards to better understand the ever-changing landscape, and how we can position ourselves for greater impact.

Then, set out a plan of attack (albeit one that’s not overcooked tactically) and execute with passion, purpose and strategic intent.


Trevor Young is a veteran PR strategist and advisor specialising in reputation marketing, leadership communications and personal branding; he is a keynote speaker, blogger, social broadcaster, and author of the book ‘Content Marketing for PR’.

This post first appeared on Trevor Young | PR Warrior | PR & Communications strategist, coach and speaker.

Image by natasaadzic on iStock

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