Before you can make money, you must make meaning.
What you mean must fulfill a specific unmet need in a well-defined target audience, AND be perceived as special and valuable.
Your target audience is the people who can hire you, buy from you, invest with you or refer you to people who are able to make your goals a reality. For example, consider this personal brand. Linda is a trustworthy realtor who specializes in properties under $450,000 in Laguna Beach, frequently serving families who are relocating from out of state. She has a caring attitude and a gentle, advice-giving manner. She offers her friendship as much as her services. This uniquely informs her personal brand. Anyone can buy and sell houses. Linda’s personal qualities are what attracts her target audience. Her social media profiles and posts, her photos and shares, even the companies and causes she likes, reflect the person she really is, the PERSON you want representing your interests.
If you saw her Facebook page, you’d see a heartwarming story about two golden retrievers that got lost and then found, an update on her fundraising efforts for the local high school’s cheerleading trip, and a photo album filled with tranquil meditation spots.
If we go to your page, what would we know about you? What meaning would you have in our lives?
For a decade as the host of International Business on public radio, I spoke to the world’s most important people in business, politics, labor and government. What does your personal brand have to do with my hosting International Business? Well, for a decade on International Business, new experts and people with important things to say were always welcome.
But here’s the hitch. There were a lot of great people we missed out on, because we couldn’t easily find them. Or, their materials, online presence and websites didn’t communicate what was special about them.
The same problem may be haunting you on social media, at networking events and even in your daily life. There are people who might very much want what you have to offer, but they can’t easily find you – or you don’t stand out as special.
Of course, there is a lot of competition that could crowd out your voice. There are probably many people who do, have done or could do what you aspire to.
Consider that every diamond is different, even the best have flaws – and diamonds just keep going up in value. You are that diamond, albeit a diamond in the rough, perhaps. In your personal branding efforts, the facets of your true, unique and valuable self are what you leverage. By the end of this post, I promise you’ll know where to look to find your special qualities.
Let’s start by defining the term personal brand. In brief, a personal brand is your reputation or image. But it isn’t a reputation or image that ACCIDENTALLY crops up about you. A personal brand is the reputation and image that you intentionally create, manage and communicate about, in a way that an audience finds engaging. Consider how many big brands communicate how special they are – even when their product is pretty similar to the competition. Starbucks, Target, Coke, Apple, BMW. These brands have personalities that are clear, consistent and compelling.
Among personal brands, you may recognize: Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Malcolm Gladwell, Martha Stewart, Charles Schwab, even Sir Richard Branson. They are famous for what they believe, and the way they think and act. Dimensions of YOUR personal brand include your skills, experience, expertise and the products or services you represent. Your travels, hobbies, classes you take, and projects might be important facets of your brand. However, your resume and activities are NOT the sum total of your personal brand – anymore than your resume and hobbies are the sum total of who you ARE.
Your values, personal qualities and nature – including the way you naturally think and act distinguish you. You might be hard-working, stylish, easy-going, analytical, poised, creative, intuitive or a combination of five hundred and fifty five traits researchers believe describe every person on the planet.
Because it is often so difficult for people to see what is really special and wonderful about themselves: I developed a series of exercises that uncover who you are – and help you develop some of your less obvious but attractive dimensions, so you can make them apparent to your audience. That’s why so many people find that the personal branding PROCESS is such a healthy personal DEVELOPMENT program.
I promised you’d learn where to look for some of your special qualities that will help you create a powerful personal brand. Now take a piece of paper and write down the answer to these three questions.
1. What one positive quality have you had since you were little, that pretty much everyone notices after spending time with you?
2. What one word would you use to describe the way you approach problems?
3. Why do people enjoy spending time with you?
Perhaps this quick review of the some of the fundamentals will help you develop a more powerful personal brand.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen