You know those massive flasks for hot drinks they have at events? They’re usually black, and you press down on a lever on the top to pour yourself a cup? (Am I the only one who has a magical ability to ALWAYS pick the empty one, no matter how many are on the table?)
So anyway, imagine you’re at an in-person event (let’s be nostalgic and say it’s pre-covid).
You’re in-between talks, people are milling about, and you’re reading the handwritten pieces of paper sellotaped to the flasks looking for the ones marked “coffee”, and hoping there’s enough tepid, coffee-flavoured water in one of them to fill your KeepCup.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see someone across the room point at you, and you can tell they’re asking the person next to them “who is that?”
What would you want the answer to be?
Now, I could have just asked you “how would you describe your personal brand?” But there are four very specific reasons why I like to paint this little scenario and ask this specific question…
1. Centers around people
It centers around people and makes the concept less abstract – we’ll come back to this more later, but this is really the root of how myself and Marci work. Because building a personal brand has to be about human connection. You build community around what you do by connecting with people, otherwise you’re just a voice in the wilderness.
2. Focuses you on the answer
It encourages you to consider what you want the outcome of your personal branding work to be. This is crucial, if you don’t do this you’re allowing your personal brand to develop haphazardly. You have to get intentional, consider what you want people to say about you, and do the necessary work to put that idea out into the world. Which brings us to the next point…
3. Influence, not control
By asking the question this way, it clearly illustrates that you can’t control your personal brand in an absolute way. How do you control what someone across the room says about you? You can’t. Unless you’re a Jedi Knight, and that would be cheating anyway. But you can influence what people think by being consistent in your actions and in your content.
4. Real language
It helps you think about your personal brand in real language – nobody is going to say “that’s Marie, she offers world-class, cutting-edge coaching that provides her clients with a previously unimaginable paradigm shift resulting in a 10x return on their investment” but they might say something like “that’s Marie, she’s a career coach, she’s very straight talking so she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve heard she gets incredible results.”
Take consistent action
So your mission when it comes to personal branding is to take consistent action to ensure that anytime someone asks “who is that?” a clear, accurate, and positive answer comes back.
Now, in reality, we know that personal brand is not quite that simple, it’s an abstract and complex concept, because it’s not actually any single person’s opinion… it’s the cumulative opinion – the shared opinions that exist about you in your market.
But how do you work with an abstract concept like that? How do you even begin to work on influencing something that intangible?
It’s much simpler and easier to focus on one person. Make sure that one person knows exactly what to say when asked the question “who is that?” Make sure they know how to represent you accurately and positively.
That one person is your Dream Client.
Who else is going to champion you as well as the person who needs the transformation you offer, and who you love working with?
That’s why myself and Marci get really specific about who your Dream Client is, so you can show up consistently, speaking directly to them in a way that builds your personal brand.
When you know who your Dream Client is you can create a body of work that is relevant to the transformation you offer them. They will notice the common themes, and you can give them the language they need to describe you.
The more often I mention that I am a brand strategist and that I help solopreneurs develop their personal brand, the more likely it is that someone else will pick up those phrases and repeat them later.
The more blog posts I write about building your personal brand, the more I lock that concept in my Dream Client’s mind. The more I write about working with Marci, the more people think of us as a team.
So. Back to the coffee stand at the event… you see someone saying “who is that?”
What do you want them to say?