Finally, we are at the final phase of our personal branding series and phase three is all about nurturing your community. After phase two, you will now have articulated your value proposition, built your destination (which is your personal website), created and completed your social network profiles. Now, it’s time to be active and social, and if you are good at this, you’re going to develop some influence to elevate your personal brand.
Practice Social Listening
Being in social media can be compared to being in a house party. And if you’ve been to one, you might have experienced the awkwardness of trying to belong and get into a social circle. People standing in circles are often having conversations on just about anything and everything. One circle might be talking about politics, another might be talking about business and stock prices. One might be talking about what their plans are for the weekend, another might be talking about their current favorite Netflix show. That is similar to social media. There are fragments of different conversations on just about any number of topics comprised of people with various levels of familiarity with one another. Then there’s you – someone who is eager to talk and be heard. Before you can speak and be heard though, you have got to listen first.
As an introvert, I can pretty much say that I am good at listening. I tend to edge into circles in these events by smiling first and then waiting for a social cue to enter. It can be a nod or a wave, and then I smile, maybe laugh a little bit, nod and agree, and just become an attentive listener. This is a passive engagement, just like liking, commenting, and sharing in social media. Eventually, as the conversation goes on, the attention turns to us and we are asked to speak. This is the time to be a good house party guest and there are a few things that you need to avoid at all costs.
Be a good guest and avoid the following:
- Inappropriate or illegal activity
- Divulging confidential information
- Lies or misrepresentation
- Rants about colleagues
- Non-inclusive language
To be in sync with the conversation of the day, there are a couple of things that you need to do and that is to learn the field.
- Read what the leaders and influencers are saying
- Be aware of the moves being made
- Get to know your intended audience
To start with, you have to follow industry leaders and influencers. This includes personal accounts, journalists, news stories, industry publications, and more. Curate a feed of insights and information that will keep you up-to-date with the trend in your field. Get into the habit of checking in and being aware of the moves being made, as well as the conversations of the day. Figure out the valuable players, follow them, and create lists. Keep track of people you want to follow and sort them based on the importance of your particular objectives.
For example, if you are trying to win some new business, try following some key decision-makers and interact with them gradually. Wait for them to follow back and engage with you. Once there’s enough familiarity and trust, reach out to them with a link to an article they’d appreciate or even an invitation to an event that you think they’ll be interested in. Play the long game on social media. Give, give, give, with no expectation of return.
You’ve got to set up several jabs before you could go for the right hook. – Gary V.
Once you’ve earned some attention from being a good listener, it’s time to engage. Start putting your flare on the contents you’ve shared, or even putting out your own content. There are several things you can do to gain engagement. Through managing several accounts, five types of content perform really well.
- Useful Content – helps people learn or sharpen a skill.
- Amusing Content – this is content that gets anything from a smile to a hearty belly laugh.
- Informational Content – this content gives the audience new knowledge or a different understanding.
- Inspiring Content – this is content that fires people up and compels them to act.
- Critical Content – this is content that challenges people’s perspectives.
This list is helpful for all types of content, from tiny tweets to long-form blog posts. Your content needs to meet only at least one of the following criteria. Don’t feel the pressure to infuse all five ingredients.
Now, when it comes to maximizing engagement, there are a few things you need to do:
- Summarize your story
- Use first-person language
- Be visually presentable
- Provide all necessary details about who you are and what you do
- Participate in like-minded conversations
- Publish relevant articles, videos, podcasts, or presentations
If you do this right, a few things will happen.
- You’ll find opportunities
- You will generate leads.
- Gain advice and knowledge
- Expand your networks
- Enhance your profile and awareness
- Make Social Connections
- Improve communication skills
- Increased confidence and happiness
Discovering, articulating, expressing, and building your personal brand online correctly should yield all of these outcomes and more.
Build Thought Leadership
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final action of this personal branding series – build thought leadership. If you follow all these steps, you’ll start to notice that your online influence will grow. Eventually, you’ll be considered an authority on the subject that you’re intentionally applying yourself again.
To make this step effective, give this 90-day game plan a shot. It’s an excellent way to re-orient your account if you’ve hit a plateau. This is the 90-day game plan:
- CURATE (30 days): Amplify other voices and become synonymous with select topics
- COMMENT (30 days): Add your perspective to conversations
- CREATE (30 days): Once you have enough permission space, create original content
For the first 30 days, follow the foremost experts, influencers, publications, and thought leaders on the internet. Like, repost, and/or retweet their content. Let your audience get used to expecting these kinds of content from you.
Then for the next 30 days, gradually add your perspective to the conversations. Repeat the steps in the curate phase but now quote tweet instead of a retweet. Add your own captions instead of using theirs. Your audience now knows what you are passionate about and what’s you’re gonna talk about. It’s time to let them know what you think about what you are sharing.
By the 60-day mark, you’ll have earned sufficient permission space to start creating original content related to the topics you’ve been curating and commenting on. This is your time to shine. Your audiences are dialed in. They’ve adapted themselves to the new brand promises you’re making. They’re used to a certain type of story being shared, and they’ve stuck around waiting for more. So give them what they’re here for.
The Game Plan is just a Template
Of course, this game plan is just a template, and reorienting your brand might take shorter or longer. Feel it out and pay attention to your analytics. Do more of what gets more engagement and less of what doesn’t.
Perhaps, an executive recruiter will type in your name into Google after seeing it on a resume, maybe it’s an event organizer clicking on your Instagram handle after seeing it tagged in a photo, or maybe it’s a friend recommending you for a speaking engagement based on a blog post you wrote. These are all real scenarios. No matter the situation, if you aren’t treating your personal brand as an asset, it’s probably becoming a liability in ways that you’re unaware of. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a job seeker, or an executive, having a well-defined personal brand is critical. Don’t leave it up to someone else to craft your story because chances are, they’re harming your brand. Your big take away from this blog series should be this: Do things, tell people.
Here’s a quick recap of everything that you’ve learned in this blog series:
- Identify your brand perception gaps
- Discover your reason for being
- Articulate your mission (in 8 words or less)
- Select your channel mix
- Complete your social profiles
- Create a personal website
- Practice social listening
- Engage with purpose
- Build thought leadership
Do what the best brands and most influential people do. Do things, tell people. And do it over and over and over again.
You can never get tired telling your story because chances are, someone is hearing it for the first time. – Dr. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
Become your own great exhilirator. Get excited about your personal brand. It should be easy because you’re already doing important work, and you’ve got an incredible story to tell. All you’ve got to do is define your personal brand, put your best foot forward, and nurture your community. The rest will fall into place.