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Personal branding has finally become something that most entrepreneurs have accepted as a must-do. Thanks to Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk, and other public-facing founders, more business owners are hopping on the personal branding train and making an effort to put a face to their companies.
The problem is most entrepreneurs are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. If you want to build a personal brand that helps your business’s bottom line, you need to be intentional with how you show up.
And no, that doesn’t mean picking out the perfect filter for your Instagram grid or paying for thousands of fake followers to “look” important.
After helping entrepreneurs in all industries step into the spotlight and grow a personal brand people buy from, there are three non-negotiable questions you must ask yourself before getting started. (If you’ve already been trying to grow your personal brand for some time — don’t worry. Take a moment now, ask yourself these questions, and notice the gaps in your strategy that might be stalling your growth).
1. What kind of impression do you want to leave?
Modern-day personal branding is like going to an event, meeting someone new for the first time, and finding yourself talking about them a month later because something about them got etched so deeply in your brain.
When you leave the room at a party (i.e., when you finish having an interaction with an ideal client):
- What do you want them to take away?
- What do you hope they remember?
- What do you want your target market to associate you with?
- How do you want to be remembered?
These questions all fall under the same roof: defining what kind of impression you want to make on your target audience. By answering these questions, you create (or recreate) the foundation of your personal brand. Without the proper foundation, the house can’t be built.
2. How do you want to make people feel?
Continuing from question one, we’re taking it one step further. While most entrepreneurs on social media spend their time making sure their personal brand “looks” a certain way, they forget that’s not ultimately what makes someone buy.
People buy from you because of how you make them feel.
All humans make their buying decisions based on emotion. We buy with emotion and justify with logic. To grow your personal brand, you must clarify how you want to make people feel at the core. Think about your target audience and how you want them to feel after they come in contact with your personal brand.
Do you want them to feel:
After you answer this question, you will have the creative clarity to craft a content strategy that shares one common goal: to make people feel a certain way.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a shining example of this. His personal brand’s biggest objective is to help people feel empowered and in control. Every single piece of content he puts out aims to help his target audience feel capable of creating a life they truly love.
3. Am I willing to let my audience in?
Here’s the hard truth: today’s biggest, most widely known personal brands are the ones who take their audiences behind the scenes. In other words, if you are serious about growing a personal brand that people not only love — but buy from — you need to be willing to connect with your audience on a human level consistently.
While this can be done in various ways, the easiest way is to tell your story. Instead of the company’s story — tell your story. Show your audience who you were before you were a leader. Show your audience what you overcame to build your company and bring your vision to reality. Show your audience that you’re so much more than your title, and show them that you’re a human just like them.
This doesn’t mean you need to tell all of your deepest darkest secrets. It means you need to decide what things you’re comfortable sharing with your audience from your personal life.
For example, some CEOs share everything from their quirky hobbies outside of work to their family, their kids and numerous other hats they wear. In contrast, others prefer to share only one or two different components of what makes them.
The most important thing to remember is that what works for someone else doesn’t have to be the way you do it. You get to let your audience in whichever way feels most authentic and aligned for you.
As long as you aren’t hiding behind your title, accomplishments and computer, you’re one step closer to building a personal brand that grows your business’ impact and income.