The following excerpt was selected from “The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in the Digital Age of Media” Copyright © 2017 by Seth Price and Barry Feldman, Ideapress Publishing.
Understand your brand’s all about the real you.
You, my friend, are a brand. Anything other than the real you won’t do. Discover exactly what makes you fascinating. Build your brand on your true strengths and allow it to navigate your road to recognition.
“When you know what the key message of your brand is and what your brand promises to its customers and prospects, it is easy for you to bring this message to the world with a great deal of confidence, no matter what media you are using.
Frankly, it also takes a lot less energy to be authentic. When you are authentic, when what you are doing matches what you promise, it doesn’t feel false and you don’t spend energy worrying about how to appear more genuine to your audience. You just are genuine to your audience.
Authentic passion energizes. When you feel passionate, you can’t help but take action. It becomes a natural outpouring of what you believe in and what you feel you must do. It is what drives you.”
– Kim Garst, author of “Will the Real You Please Stand Up” and founder of Boomsocial
A is for Authenticity
You might think buying this book is the first step in your personal branding journey. Think again. You already have a personal brand. So let’s not pretend you’re about to create it. The best you can do is develop it, ideally, with purpose and passion.
If personal branding is a road (as the book’s title suggests), your challenge is to steer. “Brand” is a tricky thing to describe. In the classic marketing world, most companies try hard to define their brand when, in reality, the market, or more specifically the audience, defines it.
We’ll dive deeper into a working definition in Chapter D, but let’s start with this. The brand is:
- The impression formed when the brand’s name is read or said
- The sum of the experiences a person has had with the brand
- How people describe the brand (not how the company, or person, describes him or herself)
All of the above applies to your personal brand. You don’t “spin” your personal brand. You live it. It’s what’s true about you.
When you achieve success with your personal brand, people recognize you as a specialist. For example:
AJ specializes in helping entrepreneurs use marketing automation to sell information products online.
BJ is a life coach who works one-on-one with CEOs to help them avoid burnout and depression from workaholism.
CJ creates personalized gifts for children designed to foster their love of learning.
DJ is an executive who evangelizes ride sharing as a means to reduce car dependence in crowded cities.
Bring who you are to what you do
Who are you? The core of your personal brand is the person you are, the things you believe in, and the gifts you aim to share. Though many of the platforms you’ll use to drive down The Road to Recognition will be digital, in personal branding there’s no virtual reality.
Authenticity is your key to:
- Build a trusted identity
- Elevate and substantiate your brand in a competitive market
- Set expectations
- Be easier to understand and relate to
- Encourage engagement with like-minded individuals
- Turn audiences into advocates
At its core, being authentic means staying true to who you are, what you do, and those you serve. I’m not talking about sharing every thought you’ve ever had but, rather, connecting with people on a human level, as you would with someone you care about.
Let’s face it: trust is a valuable but rare commodity. Marketing—the action or business of promoting and selling products or services—generally poses a threat to authenticity and thus, trust. Marketing encourages us to be cynical.
Brand building lures us all into positioning ourselves in the best light, often omitting anything that might harm our image. The urge to woo trumps the inclination to be true. But given the information tools we now have, what’s true shall be discovered.
Be true. Be able to say with confidence you are being real, consistent, accountable, thoughtful and honest. It’ll feel right.
Nurture your authenticity
You are unique. This book dedicates pages to exploring your uniqueness. However, you don’t need to be unique to be authentic. The definition of authentic is, in a word, “genuine.”
Authenticity isn’t quite like many of the skills in this book, which can be taught. However, it’s something you need to examine and nurture. The process begins by identifying your skills, strengths, talents, values and passions.
Here are some practical ideas:
Identify authentic people in your niche—Look at role models in your niche. Dig into the content they publish. Why does it resonate with you? What do they do to earn your trust?
Tune into what people say about you—Your friends, family, and mentors can help get you in touch with your authentic self. Get input from them. How do they perceive you? How do they describe you? What strengths of yours do they acknowledge?
Scope your skills—Attempt to identify and document your essential skills. Which do you most enjoy using? Which apply best to your career goals? Make a list of five or more.
Buck conformity—Public enemy number one in personal branding is fear. A fear of being different compels people to conform. Buck it. Let your opinion be known. Set your personality free.
Re-examine your content—As you turn the pages of this book, you’re going to begin learning how the things you write and the content you create are expressions of your brand. Don’t edit yourself out of it. Infuse your personality into all your communications.
Be clear about your mission—Share it with gusto, but take care to make only promises you know you can keep. Practice what you preach.
Be consistent—Each and every conversation—online and off— is an opportunity to demonstrate your values. Align everything around them and send a consistent message.
Let authenticity be your compass—Throughout this book, you will discover many tips, tactics, and strategies to strengthen your personal brand. Let authenticity help you navigate and develop a brand you believe in.
Are you feeling good about what the real you has to offer? Great. Let’s look at how you share it with the world.
“The Road to Recognition” is available now at fine booksellers and at StartupNation.com.