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Activate the Power of your Personal Brand to Market Your Business

Last year, I gave a presentation on the marketing panel at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) conference in San Francisco. DWEN is an organization that connects female entrepreneurs across the globe with networks, sources of capital, knowledge, and technology. At that event, many of the entrepreneurs asked, “how can I build my personal brand to help drive my business?” The DWEN network invited me back to give a webinar on that very subject last week. See presentation below:

Over the past decade or so that I’ve been in the digital marketing world, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of leaders on how to leverage their personal brand as part their larger marketing goals. This webinar gave me the exciting opportunity to share some of the tips and best practices I’ve collected over the years with the DWEN audience. Here is an overview of the key takeaways:

“You, My Friend, Are a Brand”

Like it or not, the way you present yourself as a human will and does have an impact on your brand, and here’s why:

  • There has been a fundamental shift in the way people experience brands. 90% of people trust product or service recommendations from people they know – while only 33% trust a message from a brand.
  • The bad news is that that consumers inherently distrust brands – which means that effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics are on the decline. The good news is that they do trust people, and your organization is filled with them. That’s why your personal brand matters so much.
  • Your personal brand isn’t just about promoting yourself, it is directly connected to how people perceive the value of your business.
Your personal brand isn’t just about promoting yourself, it is directly connected to how people perceive the value of your business. Click To Tweet

We know that executives and leaders recognize the importance of having a strong online presence, and yet so many are struggling to walk the walk. Why aren’t leaders stepping up to the plate? There are a few reasons:

  • Process + Planning – most leaders don’t have a well-defined process and practice to achieve the results they want.
  • Commitment –  The people I know who have become most influential in their niches have done it through hard work, persistence and perseverance. They’ve made the commitment, built a plan and put in the time.

 “Success is where preparation + opportunity meet.” If you’re serious about activating your personal brand to become more influential, having the right process and tools are critical. Here’s what that looks like:

Step 1: Know your audience

Whether your developing a blog series, guesting on a podcast or speaking at an event – your time is precious. Every moment you spend away from your business should be intentional and strategic – otherwise you’re wasting your time. Understanding your audience is critical to ensuring that your focus and impact will be worthwhile. Without a clear understanding of who you’re talking to – and what’s important to them – you’ll end up an echo chamber.

Step 2: Define your focus

Now that you have a clear picture of who you’re trying to reach and what is important to them, start looking for common ground. Where is the intersection between your passions / knowledge / expertise and their struggle? Your greatest enemy in this process is mediocrity. In order to stand out and reach the people you care about, you must be targeted, specific and highly relevant.

In order to stand out and reach the people you care about, you must be targeted, specific and highly relevant. Click To Tweet

Step 3: Create value

Ensuring your thought leadership focus is relevant and sustainable is the key to success, because it creates value. It’s not enough to identify what you want to be known for – you need to make sure it’s relevant to your audience and something they truly care about. Ask yourself, “is this sustainable?” Identify common themes in your content and sharpen your focus around those core themes to keep your audience coming back for more.

Step 4: Build a process

How many times have you thought to yourself – “I’ll just whip up a blog”? Only to sit down, drum your fingers for 20 minutes and then give up? Winging it is not a strategy. You need a work process. Commit to dedicating at least 2 hours a week to this. Then, sit down once a month and map out your ideas. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be in writing!

Step 5: Leverage the right tools

Without the right tools, a well-defined process cannot be executed. I shared some helpful tools to define your expertise, generate ideas, stay relevant, understand your audience, and promote your work. (see slide 17 in the presentation below for a list of these recommended tools)

Without the right tools, a well-defined process cannot be executed. Click To Tweet

Step 6: Get help

Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither will your personal brand. There are many resources out there (freelancers, editors, production experts) that can help you turn your knowledge into valuable, impactful content. Set yourself up for success by getting the right support team in place from the get-go.

Extra credit: Several of the key concepts / strategies references in this presentation originated from my good friend and thought leader, Mark Schaefer. Check out his latest book, KNOWN, for more insights, ideas and tips!

Special thanks to DWEN for asking me to do this! It was a pleasure to share my insights.