Today, smart leaders must think about their personal brand as part of a holistic marketing strategy. However, the proliferation of “personal branding” opportunities—through social networks, blogs, traditional and new media or conferences, just to name a few—can leave executives a bit torn as to where to begin. Here I offer three simple entry points.
1. Be open to anything.
You know that year when “saying yes” to everything was really trendy? I am not suggesting that. What I believe is that leaders need to be open to any opportunity, large or small. Cross-pollinating your brand with an interesting (or unexpected) publication or platform can bode well for building credibility with new audiences. You want to humanize your executive brand. Customers are obsessed with the stories behind the organizations they support and millennials are driven by value-based decisions. For example, most will agree that President Barack Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns with comedian Zach Galifianakis was pivotal in continuing to build a strong youth following.
2. Be the voice on 2-3 key topics.
Select those topics and start with bullet point content. Focus on your specific opinion on the subject and the ultimate impact of why the reader, listener or viewer should care. There’s a difference between leadership and leading opinion. Some of my favourite examples would include banker and advocate for gender parity Brenda Trenowden’s perspective on building global board diversity, author and social media mogul Eva Chen’s inspirational work/life balance, and Drybar CEO Alli Webb’s advice around leveraging your strengths in entrepreneurship. Their consistent and thoughtful commentary keeps the follower coming back for more and all have perfected the art of showing up in the right places at the right time.
3. Avoid overexposure.
Once you’ve opened your mind to where you are going to show up and why it might be an interesting brand building opportunity, you must then carefully curate these opportunities. They need to make sense together. You want to leave people wanting to hear more from you. And when they do hear from you, that the experience is meaningful. Makeup artist and entrepreneur Gucci Westman is in high demand, but she and her discerning team choose where and when she shows up to share her thoughts on clean beauty. Her content features her fun, sporty side with her family all the way through to her transition from coveted makeup artist to beauty entrepreneur. The platforms with which she engages are top tier and speak to a range of consumers who share her values.
In today’s transparent, accessible world, there are plenty of ways to build your personal brand. The exciting part is that you have the ultimate control in shaping and building your profile.
At the same time, there is a larger challenge to be liberal yet strategic in the process. Surround yourself with people who will give you good advice and feedback in the process. When done well, you and your organization will reap the rewards of a true connection to the customer and provide meaningful inspiration for the next generation of leaders?
Not sure where to start or how to determine what opportunities are right for you? Trust our experts to help you build a strong, compelling personal brand.
——— Tara Wickwire is a former Associate Vice-President at NATIONAL Public Relations