If you’re like me you can’t get into a conversation without mentioning your brand, or the importance of building and maintaining it. Sadly, these conversations aren’t only with entrepreneurs, so I get plenty of eyes that start to glaze over when I bring up the topic. It’s hard to explain to people that building and maintaining your personal brand isn’t just a skill that needs to be mastered by entrepreneurs. Even if you never plan on leaving your current job, increasing your profile often leads to promotions and bigger money. More likely though (you are reading Personal Branding Blog, right?) you plan on leaving your job at some point, if you haven’t already, and you’ll make for a much easier transition if you do a few simple things to build your brand before leaving.
It sounds simple, but a blog is still the best way to have a voice on the web. Quality content often finds traffic semi-naturally and without much marketing. The more marketing and networking you do, the more the profile of your blog increases, which increases your profile in the process. We’ll get to networking in a minute though.
Blogging sounds like such a daunting task to most people that are struggling to find the time to hit the gym, eat a good meal or spend time with your family. It’s not as hard as you think. Nobody says that you have to post daily, or even weekly updates. Seth Godin (I get it, we’re not all Seth Godin) has one of the most popular blogs online and he’s gone through stretches of only posting once or twice a month. Tim Ferris? Same animal.
Instead of grinding out 30 posts a month, it’s best to just post when you have something of value to share. Speaking of sharing…
Network, network, then network some more
Most of us have a Twitter and a Facebook account, but what if I told you that you were probably overvaluing your social accounts when in-person meetings, networking, and phone calls are still king in this digital world? Tweeting your latest blog post to your 38 uninterested followers isn’t increasing your brand. Going out and finding new Twitter followers and Facebook friends is what sets the best marketers apart from the rest. It’s not impossible to build a brand for yourself by adding your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook and sharing your work, as well as your thoughts and ideas with them, but it works better if you are surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. This means that you need to actively seek out new people to share your content, ideas, and stories with.
As important as online networking is, let’s forget about it entirely for a second.
Most successful people I know would prefer to have lunch, or an in-person meeting with like-minded individuals any day of the week. I know I’d prefer to look someone in the face and chat about ideas than to be on the opposite end of a Google Hangout. You?
The key to this type of networking is you have to be legitimately interested in the person you are having lunch or drinks with. This isn’t about what they can do for you, or what you can do for them, but creating synergy as your ideas explode. I know with 100-percent certainty that I’m more creative when surrounded by creative individuals. I like to have lunch, drinks, or meetings with people in person because it allows me to channel that creative energy while collaborating with another person. Some of my best ideas come right after these meetings.
Instead of Tweeting or updating your Facebook wall constantly with things you think are valuable, create value in interaction and go find someone new that you can share your time with. An ideal day for me would be meeting and interacting with at least one new person (even online) every day before I go to bed. Try it.
I think college is vastly overrated in an online entrepreneur-type sense, but that’s a conversation for another day. What I mean about education is this: if you want to make your brand more valuable, you have to educate yourself and stay on top of newly emerging trends. What kind of SEO would you be if you didn’t take the time to learn about Google’s new-ish “Panda” update? As much as you know, you’ll never know everything there is to know in your chosen field. Instead of fighting this, embrace it.
Nearly all of my late nights and tired mornings are due to stuffing my brain with new knowledge. It’s a thrill to me to fill my brain with things that make me more valuable to anyone who might employ me in the future, as well as positioning myself for success as an entrepreneur when I set out on my next venture.
Another common trait shared by some of the best business minds I know is that they all like to read. Instead of the two to three hours that most people spend watching television each night, grab a book and read for at least 30 minutes each day. Read a chapter on your lunch break. Success is as much mindset as it is opportunity or skill. Until you break down the thoughts of other successful people, you’ll never really know how they did it, or how you can mirror their prosperity. Biographies and mindset-type books are some of my favorites.
It’s never a bad idea to use these simple steps to improve yourself, your skill set, and your profile for future growth. It’s a world of uncertainty and even if you think that you’ll keep your job forever, we know that might not be the case. Wouldn’t you rather be a no-brainer hire for your next job than just one in a stack of resumes? I’d rather make the new employer forget about other applicants completely. Wouldn’t you?
For those of you that plan on setting out and breaking off your chunk of the entrepreneurial pie, this isn’t just a recommendation, this is more of a call to action. If you aren’t doing these things, you are drastically reducing your potential for success.
King Hussein once said, “Personality is reduced and deformed with depleted thoughts and stagnant mind.” Entrepreneurs that rest on their laurels are quickly passed by those of us who are hungry for self improvement. Do you want to get passed by, or be the one that does the passing?
Bryan Clark is a professional writer, blog editor and tech evangelist. His features have been published by the likes of Technorati, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneurs Journey, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, and USA Today. Bryan speaks at blogger and entrepreneurship conferences about blogging, social media, and the benefits of not wearing shoes while working. Connect with Bryan on Twitter or visit his blog at ImBryanClark.com.