On the face of it, personal branding is all about you. And it is; it’s about figuring out who you are and what you want, and then how you express who you are to those who can help you to get where you want. The problem is, many people spend more time and effort than is necessary on the expressing bit. Some people even jump straight into that bit, without doing the really important first step. These people fill up our inboxes, Twitter and LinkedIn streams so much that sometimes we just want to press the BLOCK button.
The problem is, these people who are expressing themselves all over the place fall easily into a trap. They think that by simply telling us who they are and what they’ve done is enough. In a nutshell, their communication is a bit “me, me, me!” The problem with this is that we’re all a bit me me me, and so when we come across this kind of stuff, we’re not always that interested. We want to hear about things that matter to me, me, me! So, you see all this effort in putting ourselves out there and expressing who we are, might actually fall a bit flat. Is this you?
So, what am I suggesting instead? Well, what’s the opposite of the me, me, me approach? It’s the you-you-you approach! The you-you-you approach involves talking about what you do in the context of others, usually those that you are trying to help. And, if you can actually mention those people (or companies) that you have already helped, even better. Now this is actually Branding and Marketing 101 and is all about focusing on the customer’s needs. But as we’re not all trained marketers, this is not immediately obvious to many. It’s OK – it’s an easy mistake to make!
Now, I’d like to suggest taking this one stage further. Sure, you can frame everything you do in the context of others when you communicate about yourself. And this will work very well. But what will be even more effective is if you actually serve others in a more meaningful way. Like, do stuff for them. And I don’t just mean the stuff that you get paid to do, but the stuff that you don’t get paid to do.
This is about going above and beyond the line of duty. It’s about doing something for others that really means something to them. Maybe you’ll introduce them to a useful connection. Or perhaps you might give them a nice testimonial or recommendation on LinkedIn, unprompted. You could muck into to project they’re working on because you can see they that could really do with your help and they seem stuck.
These kinds of things can make a real difference to people, especially if you do them without expecting anything in return. But the thing is, in doing so, you’re more likely to get something back in return; maybe not from them, but from someone else. They’re probably going to become little brand ambassadors for you and tell everyone about you. It might be one of those people who come back with something for you. Who knows? The point is, who cares? If you focus on helping others, your personal brand and your reputation will grow.
Alexia Leachman is a Personal Brand Coach and Head Trash Liberator at Blossoming Brands.