I had a conversation with one friend today and got an email from another asking my advice on how to build their personal brand… and ultimately profit from it. This may be a topic that's better answered by friend Dan Schawbel, a personal branding expert… so keep an eye on his blog. I'll share my thoughts on what I've done over the last decade, though.
- Present yourself how you wish to be perceived – I think folks are almost startled when they see me… I'm big, gruff, hairy, gray, and wear jeans and T-shirts. I huff and puff my way through the day. Online, I present myself in line with my goals and how I hope others will ultimately perceive me. That's not to say that I misrepresent myself… I don't. I won't. I am careful to keep my online persona in tact and don't risk ruining it by dropping f-bombs or openly trying to demean other people or bloggers on the Internet. I may tell them they're wrong… but I still respect them. 🙂
- Never stop working hard to get there. I don't believe in a work/life balance. I think it's crap because I love what I do and want it to be part of every day. I have plenty of fun and family time, too. However, I'm not going to risk my reputation with the businesses I work with to go goof off somewhere with some buddies. Sorry, buddies!
- Step up at every opportunity. When the opportunity comes for me to blog, guest blog, comment, write, speak, consult, have coffee… I do. I think this is the single-largest differentiator of many successful people versus those who struggle with it. If someone asks me to do a speech on a topic I don't have a clue about, I'll jump at it. I'll dig in, Google the heck out of it, find some experts, and put forth a great presentation. I'm on several boards and help as many companies and people as I possibly can any part of any day.
- Be resolute in your delivery. A couple weeks ago I told a consultant at a meeting, “I'm not telling you this because I disagree with you, I'm telling you this because you're wrong.” Sounds harsh – I know… but it knocked the wind out of the guy so he'd stop passing on his ridiculous opinions and made him start digging into the facts. It's not that I'm always right – I'm not. It's that when I'm confident, I don't let the naysayers ruin the momentum by pushing their negativity and doubt. There's too many of those folks in the world. I'm too old to listen to them, so I pretty much shut them up every chance I get. That way we can get some work done.
- Stop listening to people who are holding you back. My mom groaned when I told her about my own business. Questions of benefits, healthcare and retirement quickly followed my announcement… that's why I didn't talk to my Mom before I started my own business. She loves me with all her heart, but she doesn't believe in me. Ouch, huh? It's okay… I'm okay with that… and I love her with all my heart, too. She's simply wrong. You may have those around you that are doing the same. Stop listening to them. It's poisoning your success.
Brand You ®
Update: Kristian Andersen has done a fantastic job at speaking to personal brands in this presentation (thanks to Pat Coyle for pointing it out):
Here's an example of how I approach things… I read on Andy's Marketing Pilgrim blog that Marketing Pilgrim was selected to be on an elite list of Recommended Blogs for Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG). It's well-deserved… Marketing Pilgrim is a blog I read every day.
That said… I want on that list. 🙂 It's not a competitive issue… it's a goal. I want the Martech Zone to be perceived as one of the best Marketing Blogs on the Internet as well. We continue to rank well on all lists and our readership continues to grow… but I want on that list!
How am I possibly going to do it?
I've already been following some of those blogs and I am now going to touch base with each of the other bloggers over the next year – through comments, possibly through events, tweeting their great content, and linking back to them when they have great posts. I'm going to force myself into their network.
Force sounds negative, but it's not. If you continue to push on an object long enough, it will move. I'm not going to cheat, lie, steal, hack or manipulate my way into that network. I'm simply going to begin providing value to them until I'm recognized as an asset. Once that happens, doors will open.
This is what has proven successful for me and I am beginning to profit from it. I also reinvest almost everything so I keep pushing the money out further… I hope to someday have a nice big ‘ol pot, though. I don't worry about money too much (only the lack of it). Just as I have confidence in myself, I also have confidence in ultimately profiting from my hard work.
What are you waiting for? Present yourself the way you wish to be viewed, work hard, and step up at every opportunity. Carve your own path and don't wait on anyone to tell you when you can or what you can achieve.