Personal branding is becoming more important for individuals in the Gig economy. It is important since it ensures “inbound” leads for freelancers, opportunities for individuals at larger companies and also makes it easy for entrepreneurs to raise money or hire people.
Let me outline what personal branding is:
To me personal branding is creating enough value for the set of people who you are trying to influence or persuade. Those “influencers” know about your work in a certain area, domain and would consider you to be the preeminent expert in that area. The “recall” for your name associated in that area, should hence, should be significant.
Let me also outline what personal branding is not:
I believe personal branding is not about blowing your own horn, bombarding people with messages and content that’s not unique or differentiated.
The best way to create a personal brand is to create compelling content. Or so I thought.
That’s not sufficient any more is what I have learned over the last 6 months.
The “community” or influencers who you are trying to influence are equally if not more important.
The 2X2 Matrix above shows the 4 types of personal brands according to me. If you have good content and build a great community you are perceived as a leader. That’s where you should aim to be.
Initially you wont have either, and so the question becomes where do you start?
The nuanced question is – where do I start if I have limited time – say 30 minutes a day?
My experience states you are better off building a community and not spending time initially creating content.
You can curate great content from others – in the form of an email newsletter, or frequent (2-3 posts and links on the topic) daily.
Spend time reading about the space you want to build your personal brand before you have an opinion or a point of view.
Learn about the different people, their points of view and the pros and cons before you start to write and speak about the topic. Engage with people on twitter, by asking questions, connecting with them and learning about their point of view first. Then spend time building relationships.
I wanted to also put my money where my advice goes. So, for the next 3 months I am mentoring 2 of my friends Marc and Nancy to build their personal brand using my suggestions and strategies. They are not known as experts in their space. They are trying to build their niche – Nancy as an angel investor – her niche is to be determined and Marc in the SaaS space – his niche within SaaS is also TBD.
Over the next 3 months I will report once a couple of weeks on their progress, the tactics they are using and the methods they have followed.
The measure of their success will be determined by 3 specific goals they have set out for themselves.
- Both want to be invited to speak at a major event (which is yet to be determined) as an expert on the space they chose.
- They want to be interviewed by either a podcaster or a blogger on their thoughts on the space.
- They want to be associated with a unique piece of content (examples Dave McClure and AARRR or Sean Ellis and Growth Hacking.
They both have specific metrics on # of engagements (key influencers who know them, etc.), # of Twitter followers (which I think is a useless metric, but nonetheless) and email open rates, etc.