What attributes do you need to have a winning personal brand?
It's very flattering when people tell me that they admire the personal brand that I have developed over the years. The truth is that the term "personal brand" makes me cringe a little bit more with each and every passing day (more on that here: Personal Branding R.I.P.). Part of my gripe with the concept of personal branding is that as these many new media channels grow in popularity, and as more and more people use it to broadcast and publish who they are and why anybody should care about them, everything is becoming very safe and homogenous. A lot of the content is loosing its sparkle and comes off much more like a glorified press release than people trying to have real interactions between real human beings.
Oh, the irony.
As Digital Marketers we've been pushing brands to engage in these real interactions between real human beings, but as the landscape evolves, individuals are becoming more like generic brands with bland/similar messages. Ultimately, the spirit of personal branding - really allowing who you are to shine and connect - is devolving into a fake online persona used to close a sale or impress other individuals. During an online chat today on Sprouter, someone asked, "What can I do to build my personal brand?"
Here are the 10 core values you need to have a winning personal brand:
- Honesty. If you're not sharing who you really are and are simply trying to get others to pay attention to you, everything is lost.
- Open. You have to be open. Open to feedback, open to criticism, but most importantly, open with your content. You have to be willing to put things out there that aren't polished to perfection.
- Consistent. Nobody like erratic behavior. If you're going to Blog, Tweet or be on Facebook, do it consistently. This doesn't mean to publish for the sake of publishing and this doesn't mean to be annoying. It means to figure out a plan and stick to it.
- Emotional. Social Media is about being "social." The people who really make sincere connections are the ones who are able to be emotional. I often Blog about things that are uncomfortable. I put them out there knowing full well that I am (and can be) overly-emotional. I hope that the content connects to others on that emotional level.
- Candid. This doesn't mean that you have to be rude, aggressive or confrontational. It means that you have to be candid. While honesty is critical, you have to ensure that it's covered with that sincere expression.
- Share. People worry too much about the conversation in Social Media. Before you can have a conversation, please understand that what truly makes media social is the ability to share it. Share content. Not just on your Blog or Twitter feed, but everywhere. Add value to other communities by making everything you find more shareable (which - in turn - will make everything you do more findable).
- Engage. While everyone would like a community with a lot of conversation, once you start sharing things, you'll be more apt to engage with others. Engage with honor and good faith. If you're sharing and that sharing leads to engagement, you are teetering on the verge of really building a powerful community.
- Focus. Too many people spread themselves too thin. They're busy Tweeting when they should be Blogging or busy Blogging when they should be creating a video. Know the type of content you are best at producing (text, images, audio, video) and stay focused on practicing it and getting it to be great.
- Student. Too many people develop some semblance of an audience and then take on the role of teacher/preacher. I'm always a student. I believe I can learn from everybody. I think it can happen in simple places like Twitter, and in more complex places like conferences and business books. Many people graduate from university and put a moratorium on learning. Big mistake. Be the student. Always be the student.
- Care. Love him or hate him, but Gary Vaynerchuk cares (I happen to love his attitude). You can say what you will about him, but the one thing you can't deny is that he really, really cares (you get that same feeling from people like Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Joseph Jaffe and many others). I happen to think I care as much (maybe even more) than Gary does (and that's no slight). You have to care too. Not just about yourself, but about everybody you interact and engage with. "It's nothing personal, it's just business," is what some say. I'd say: "I spend almost 10 hours a day working and thinking about my business... I take that very personally."
What do you think? What values do you have/recommend?