Your career relies on one thing and one thing only: your personal brand.
Just look at the evidence. Gary Vaynerchuk is a 1,000 times more popular than his first company, Wine Library. Today, he has a net worth of over 160 million.
The only reason Vaynerchuk is able to maintain that level of success is because of his personal brand. Well, that and his relentless ambition.
His no-BS attitude combined with his consistent and direct marketing techniques is exactly how his voice became heard over the crowd. It’s how he moved beyond Wine Library and into his bigger success stories such as: becoming a New York Times best-selling book, the chairman of VaynerX, and the CEO of VaynerX and VaynerMedia.
What about Ashton Kutcher? The goofy guy from That 70’s Show is now one of the most prominent up-and-coming investors in the U.S. And while he may still be acting, his personal brand is one of the reasons why his non-profit, Thorn, has been able to acquire millions in funding.
You don’t have to become famous to future proof your career. You just have to get people to know who you are— and remember you.
Your brand is how others perceive you. This is why a personal brand is worth a million times more than your business brand. It’s how you can scale and earn more from multiple streams of revenue.
But how can you get to that Gary V level of notoriety? How can you future-proof your career?
It’s all about these 5 steps I’m about to show you. Your future (and your career) depends on your brand, your audience, your platforms, your recognition, and (maybe most importantly), your willingness to show up.
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Your business plan always includes a fleshed-out marketing strategy. If you’re launching a book or an app, your strategies might include creating an email list, hiring a social media manager, or creating monetary campaigns to get the word out about your product. This is a necessary step, but it’s theoretical in the eyes of investors, press, and clients. If you’re an author looking to get a book deal, you’ll have more leverage to obtain that deal if you can prove that you’re already knowledgable on how to market effectively to an audience. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret on how you can do that: Create. A. Personal. Brand. People buy from people… it's that simple! Let people see the real you, how the real you portrays yourself to your audience, and the real you does business.
1. Work on your personal brand
As a personal branding strategist, I feel the need to warn you that I could talk about the importance of your brand until the sun goes down.
However, I have plenty of resources on developing your personal brand so I won’t talk your ear off too much in this section.
Here’s what matters when it comes to your brand. It’s not how elegant your logo is or how many followers you have on Instagram.
It’s actually about what you’re saying.
Whether you use blogs, YouTube, Instagram, or even Tik Tok to promote you and your business, your logo and your follower count is not what people are paying attention to.
Believe it or not, they’re actually listening to the words coming out of your mouth.
That’s why you need to know what to say. You need to know what you stand for, what you’re able to provide to your audience, and how you’re going to give it to them.
Don’t get me wrong. This should be implemented into the facade of your business like your logo and your website. In fact, your brand colors, imagery, and overall aesthetic speak volumes about your professionalism. If your graphics are eye-catching, people are more likely to perk up and listen. And they’re more likely to remember you.
But what you’re saying (and how enthusiastically you’re saying it) plays a role in how many people will listen to you.
So, become a thought leader. Don’t just recycle the same industry tips over and over again. People won’t remember you for that. They’ll remember you either by your personality or by your out-of-the-box concepts that will help them achieve their goals.
Stay Out of Drama
You also need to be wary of what you as your brand are willing to say and what NOT to say. Especially in 2020. You don’t want to end up in a scandal like Jenna Kutcher or Marie Forleo.
While these ladies have (seemingly) scraped by with just a smudge on their reputation, things could have gone a lot worse.
That’s why I always recommend steering on the side of caution. Speak up when you feel morally obligated, but don’t thrust your political (and non-political) agendas down peoples’ throats. All it takes to make sure you don’t completely tarnish your personal brand (and the future of your career) is to be respectful and open-minded about your blind spots.
2. Let people get to know you
On that note, it’s still important for people to get to know you. People in my Personal Branding Masterclass come to me because they simply do not know how to present themselves to their audience. With all of the digital backlash looming in the background, it can be intimidating to use your voice to break barriers.
However—that’s exactly what your personal brand is all about. I’m not saying that you need to be loud and obnoxious. In fact, I’m saying quite the opposite.
You just need to be vulnerable. You need to be open and be willing to make mistakes.
People are over seeing highlight reels of businesses on social media and in the news. Like it or not, they want to see the real, the successful, and the ugly aspects of brands.
Just like in real life, people want to get to know the person they’re meeting for the first time. It won’t happen overnight, but somewhere down the line, they’ll make that connection with you and want to form a relationship. Now, you’re someone they can trust.
How can you find the line between sharing versus oversharing? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Tell people how you started your business (relatable)
- Tell people a hurdle you overcame in the past before starting your business (emotional)
- Recite a recent story about feeling overwhelmed and how you overcame it (inspirational)
- Share your upcoming launches, news, or client reviews. Repeatedly. (excitement)
- Post pictures or videos of your pets, your family, your friends, and your favorite things (you’re a real person, too!)
3. Build your platforms
We’re getting into the thick of it now.
Chances are you already started your business and you’re on social media.
However, are you on the right platforms?
Your social media strategy is just one corner of your personal brand that will catapult your career. Do you think Gary V’s success came from just posting on social media?
Of course not.
He hopped on every single social media platform, wrote blogs, and posted 20-30 times a day on each one of them.
Don’t worry— I’m not telling you that you need to do that same thing. That would be insane.
What you need to do is narrow down 3 platforms you want to be on. I recommend your website (blogs), a visual platform (Instagram or Pinterest), and a video platform (YouTube or Tik Tok).
This prevents you from spreading yourself thin across your website and every single social media platform. By narrowing down where you spend your time, you’re more likely to build that close-knit community of potential buyers faster and more efficiently.
As you spend time on your social media platforms and blog, you’ll learn there is an entire “tech” side to getting noticed and getting those followers. SEO.
SEO on social media is one thing, and SEO for your blogs goes a little more in-depth. I recommend learning the bare basics of both. That’s really all you need— the basics.
Figure out which hashtags you want to use (the less they are used— the better. Trust me). If you want to be an industry expert, blogs are going to be your bread and butter. Using SEO in your blogs is also more likely to earn you clients (and clout) months down the line.
That’s simply not possible on social media platforms.
4. Show up
Once you know where you want to be, you have to be consistent.
In other words, you have to show up.
The further you get into your career, the more difficult this becomes. I get it— I’ve been there.
You might start questioning why your social media posts and your blogs are all that important. Especially if you haven’t seen a return on investment in it.
Here’s the truth: your content is just one aspect of your personal brand. The content is what you’re putting out to show your expertise. It’s showing people who visit your website or your Instagram that you know what you’re talking about. When you can do that, people are more likely to pick up the phone or send you an email.
However, people also need to make that connection with you as a real, reliable human being.
Which means you need to engage with your audience. If they send you a direct message or leave a comment on your post, you need to answer it— quickly.
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Here's a little something that I rarely admit out loud: I have struggled with imposter syndrome. I actually wrote an entire blog about this a couple of weeks ago. What does imposter syndrome feel like? Here are a few words to describe it: Unqualified Fraud Unworthy Fake Phony Lucky One thing I like to do regularly is to educate myself. I'm always reading up on social media trends, joining masterclasses, and looking for ways to stay on top of my industry insight. In my experience, anytime time I make an effort to become better at my craft, those imposter feelings fade away. It's not a perfect process, but it's one that works for me! Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome?
Engage with your audience
More than that, you need to be taking time out of your day to do the engaging. Hype people up, show them that you care, and selflessly lead them to your platforms so they can get to know you.
I know it sounds like a time pit. It is. But it’s time worth investing. Today’s sales process takes 22% longer than five years ago, and the best way to see an ROI in that sales process is by engaging with prospective buyers.
All it takes is about 15 minutes a day. Use your social media platforms to share your expertise on a routine basis. Then, use that 15 minutes to find and talk to your ideal client or customer.
Look in hashtags they’re most likely to use, look at who follows other leaders in your industry, and look at your own follower list. Those are the people worth connecting with on a daily basis.
Eventually, you’ll be able to outsource this type of tedious work. But make no mistake, it will always need to be done. Just look at millionaire, Jasmine Star’s Instagram posts. You’ll be able to see that she absolutely has a social media manager behind the scenes. Despite her success, she still responds (or has someone responding) to hundreds of comments and DMs a day.
This engagement is what keeps her personal brand top-of-mind and it’s what keeps her business circulating by word-of-mouth. Trust me when I say that those engaged fans are ecstatic that she is taking the time to reply to them.
5. Get your personal brand featured by the press
When it comes to the future of your career, there’s really only so much that you can handle on your own. While outsourcing should definitely be on your radar, another overlooked strategy is to get yourself featured in the press.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your local city’s paper or a feature in Forbes. This type of recognition will do one or two things for your business:
- The article will go viral, and you’ll see piles of referrals coming in… hot off the press.
- The article will serve as a highlight on your website and social media, further convincing potential buyers that you’re an expert in your industry.
If you make press outreach a habit in your personal brand strategy, then you’re even more likely to seal your career’s fate. Even if that first press feature doesn’t go viral, it will set the tone for future journalists you pitch to. They’ll be more likely to grab a quote from your brand because other journalists have already vetted you as the expert. The more press features you have, the more chances that your brand could go viral.
How can you get in the press? You have three options:
- Pitch yourself through platforms like HARO
- Connect with journalists online. Remember that engagement I talked about? Bond with writers on social media for a better chance of them accepting your quote.
- Have a presence online. That means having an aesthetic, a consistent schedule, and helpful content that speaks to your ideal client
Your personal brand is the key to your career. If you don’t put much stock into it, then you’re destined to remain at the status quo for a very long time.
It can be scary to loosen that grip and really promote yourself. When you do, however, you will be able to seamlessly increase industry recognition, deal flow, and press opportunities.
And that, my friend, is how you future-proof your career.