5 Easy Steps To Turning Yourself Into A Brand

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I have been working for some time to develop myself into a ‘brand’.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t aspire to be Coke.  I don’t think I’ll ever be Oprah.  And I don’t think my name will ever be on the same level as Disney.   But a brand isn’t a bottle of carbonated beverage, a TV show, or a Mouse.  A Brand is a promise and an expectation.  I know what I am getting when I grab a Coke even before I open the bottle.  And I know that when you say Disney, you are talking about an experience, not a roller coaster.

In my small world I am slowly turning myself into my own brand that people seek out.  It didn’t happen overnight, and I learned what I know from alot of people who have been down this road before and who are much smarter than me.  And if I can do it, you can to.

Developing yourself into a personal brand is about providing that promise and expectation because your followers know what you are all about and know what to expect when they get ‘you’.  I am not nearly where I want to be, but I work every day to get there.  So here is my list of 5 easy things you can do, starting today….

1.  Be authentic.

Nobody likes a fake.  You know what I am talking about… the person who seems ‘put on’?  And when it comes to interacting on the internet, it is even harder to make sure that others actually get what you are trying to say and there is not confusion or misunderstanding.  So if you want to set yourself apart, work hard on being authentic.  Show people who you really are, be honest, open, and do what your mom taught you… play nice!  Talk about your personal life and share what is happening to you.  If you pull back the curtain, even just a little bit, to show people the personal side of you, then they will feel like they are doing business with someone they know.

Another aspect of being authentic is setting yourself apart by being unique.  Find your niche and make sure that you do it better than anybody else.  If you do something better than anybody else, you are on the fast track to becoming a household name, or dare I say it, a brand!

2.  Start participating in social media… now.

It’s no secret that everyone is bonkers over social media right now.  And everyone is trying to figure out where they ‘fit’ in this Web 2.0 world.  If you want people to find you… if you want people to interact with you… if you want to be heard… you need to be where everyone is… and that is online.  So open a Twitter account, or two.  Open a Facebook account and start having fun.  Create a Youtube channel and start posting videos.  And start a blog and start talking about what you think.  Use your own name in everything you do.  Post a good picture of yourself.  And just like I mentioned in #1 above, talk about personal things as well.  I tell my clients all the time… people want to do business with people, not business.  Give people an insight into who you are, and they are more likely to do business with you.

3.  Share what you know with others.

This is something else that you should have learned as a kid… share.  Give more to others than what is given to you.  You can probably name off some people right now that you know who you could say something about them like… ‘they would give you the shirt off their back’.  You know the kind of person I am talking about.  Well, it’s simple… be that person.  Just like nobody likes a fake, nobody likes a taker.  If you hear about something really cool that others could benefit from, tell everyone about it.  Create posts on your blog, send out Tweets, and share links in Facebook that point people to valuable things.  Give more to “the community” than you take.  It may be an age-old cliche, but it is still true… people don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.  Share what you know, and others will seek you out.

4.  Be the expert.

You are probably pretty good at something.  I don’t know what that is, but you do.  This may be the best thing you can do to turn yourself into a brand.  If you know more about something than anyone else, then you have something of value.  And if you couple this with the other things I am talking about here, you’ll have something that people want.  Become an expert at what you do.  Provide something they can’t get anywhere else.  And don’t forget to stay on top of the things that you do.  Read constantly about your profession.  Know about the trends, the new ideas, and the people and companies that are at the forefront of what you do.  I have said it before many times, and I still rely on these daily… use Google Reader and Google Alerts to keep on top of what is happening in your profession.  Don’t work yourself to death… use tools to help you save time, and spend more of that time interacting with people.

5.  Talk about others more than yourself.

Lastly, this may be the hardest thing to do.  I have come to believe that everyone, on some level, is vain.  We love to talk about ourselves… what we think, what we know, and how we feel.  So the hardest thing to do is talk about others.  But if you want to be a brand, you have to put others before yourself.   You have to talk about others more than you talk about yourself.  If you do that, then others will see what is going on and they’ll say things about you like… “that guy is a really nice guy.  He cares more about other people than himself.”  Don’t be a taker.  Be a giver.

Let me close with a couple of great examples of what I am talking about.

I have lost track of the number of times that I have purchased something and been disappointed in some way.  It didn’t work like they said it would.  It was cheap and broke right after I got it.  Etc.  You know what I am talking about.  The bottom line is that I have been disappointed more times than I have been really pleased.  So when my Bluetooth headset broke, I was expecting to get the run-around when I called their 800 number.  I expected to fill out paperwork, pay for this or that, and jump through a few more hoops just to fix my problem.  So I called them, a real person answered the phone, and without any explanation from me they simply asked me what my address was so they could mail me another one.  Excuse me?  What was that?  Yeah.  No hassle.  No fuss.  No problem.   A brand is a promise, not a product.  And their actions told me that they care about me more than their products.  I can proudly tell you that since then I have bought 2 more of their products and I am now a loyal fan.

My final example is a person who is now a good friend of mine.  He sat in the front row at one of my speaking engagements.  He laughed.  He participated.  And he showed interest in what I was doing.  After I finished, he got up to speak after me because he was the keynote speaker.  And he was so good, he blew the doors off the place.  After the conference was over he came up to me and asked me to call him.  A few days later I did.  He said that he wanted to help me, and began to tell me ways in which I could work with him and how he could show me how to grow my business and grow my influence.  He couldn’t see the puzzled look on my face, but it was there.  What did he want from me?  Surely he wanted something?  I have become so jaded that I was aghast.  So I asked him.  He didn’t want anything.  So I asked him why he was doing this.  And he said that someone did it for him many years ago and he was simply returning the favor because he wanted to see me succeed.  And all he asked was that years from now I do the same thing for someone else.

He is the embodiment of all those things I am talking about above. That’s a brand.  That’s a promise. I am sold on his brand, and I have seen first hand that it works.  So what are you waiting for?  Go do it.

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