Building a personal brand has never been important as it is today. Consumers recognize an excellent brand. It is the reason you don’t need to Google what brands such as Apple, Nike do every time they are mentioned. As an independent consultant, you need to think the same way as these brands do. Personal branding is about being known for the service you deliver. It is about reputation and the image you create. For instance, does your name pop out in meetings, or are you on top of the mind of other target brands when they are looking for a consulting expert? Well, don’t sweat it! Let us walk you through a few tips to spruce up your personal brand as a consultant.
Work on your brand vision
Building a personal brand can be a daunting and mythical task. As a consultant or professional, it can be easy to find yourself all over the place, especially if you don’t have a plan. To improve your image or personal brand, you must first have a plan. Ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? What market do you wish to dominate, where do you want to see yourself two, five, or ten years down the line? Determining the end before you start will keep you grounded. In essence, it will be the steering wheel that drives your branding efforts.
Develop your online persona based on your real personality
Imagine waking up every day and pretending to be someone or something you are not. Well, personal branding is like your wardrobe choices. If you buy a fancy sweater because it is trendy and not your style, chances are it will not work for you. Now, you need to get to the heart of what makes you. Think of your authentic self.
After all, branding is more about purposefully and strategically showcasing your authentic self to your audience and customers. The best way to go about it is to identify and highlight what makes you unique and highlight them every chance you get to make your personal brand stand out.
Define your topic
To build a compelling personal brand, you need to become a recognized authority in a particular area. Imagine the traffic you will generate when people know that they can come to you for solutions on a specific topic. Your brand should be a reflection of your values, skills, and passions. Begin by researching the competition in the market, then determine how to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can start with a detailed personal brand audit to identify your strengths and weakness. Find out what is missing out there and what you can do, or how you can leverage your special gifts to meet those needs.
Decide who will be your target audience
This might sound counterintuitive, but not everyone will resonate with what you are doing. You will waste a lot of time trying to bring everyone to your corner. The truth is you don’t need everyone to build a successful career or business. All you need to do is reach your ‘perfect’ clientele. In fact, repel those clients you do not wish to work with and identify a specific target audience that you feel will augur well with your service or product. To effectively determine your target clients as a consultant or professional, you should:
- Define your skills and services (highlight these skills so potential clients can find you)
- Identify who benefits from most of your business. Survey your target market. You can use sources like Facebook, Quora, and Reddit.
- Investigate your potential competitors so that you can plan to differentiate yourself
- Assess potential profitability
- Test your idea to the potential customers
Tip: determining your target audience and sticking to them allows you to grow faster.
Develop your personal brand and communication strategies
At this point, you probably want to start monetizing from the skills you possess. You have identified your skills and target audience; it’s now time for people to experience these skills. Developing your personal brand and communication strategies goes beyond having a website and a phone number in the contact section. It’s about demonstrating authority in your field and telling potential clients why they should hire you. To maximize the return on your knowledge and gain authority, you need to put in the work. Below are some ways to go about it:
- Communicate to your customers regularly
- Write articles on news sites and professional publications
- Participate in seminars, workshops, or panels as an authority in your field.
- Get interviewed on radio shows and podcasts.
We live in a culture that loves a flash in the pan. Ideally, your shelf life is dependent on your consistency. If people have to wait for weeks to hear from you, you can forget about having a voice in the industry. You need to demonstrate consistency across your communication, appearance, and grandeur. Ensure you are consistent both online and offline, give people reasons to fall in love with you. You can choose to be consistent either visually or personality-wise. For example, you can have a cat phrase that you say in every video.
Thanks to the internet and social media age, there is a wide range of professional groups to get involved in. Remember, even as the guru in your field, there will be certain things that you might not know. This is why joining a networking group, or a professional group is highly beneficial to your personal brand. You will develop new skills, improve ideas, gain inspiration and establish yourself as a resource. Try to meet the right people online and offline. Also, look for ways to earn guest posting slots and speaking gigs. You can search for events happening in your area and generally hop into any new opportunity that helps your brand.
Tip: be smart about the people and the entities you network with. Pick the right opportunities only.
Developing a personal brand is a long-term process but a rewarding one. As the digital ecosystem evolves, so should your career and the brand that you are creating. The strategies discussed above are aimed at helping you draw more prospects and establish your brand as an authority in the market.