My office got a call recently because one of the largest real-estate companies in the world wanted to discuss having me spearhead a long-term writing project for them. Soon afterward, a local entrepreneur called me looking for help with a marketing campaign. While most people have to try to sell themselves to new clients, I get unsolicited calls and emails like this all the time. So often, in fact, that many times I have to turn away new business. Why? It’s the power of a strong personal brand.
A personal brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you and your skills. We all know people with strong personal brands. Others listen when they speak. We are attracted to people with strong personal brands because, in a world where we have so many questions, they seem to have the answers.
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Whether you realize it or not, we all have personal brands. People with strong personal brands have greater access to resources, contacts and career prospects. We don’t have to sell as much because often the clients come to us. People with weak personal brands? Not so much.
Take these five steps, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a strong brand of your own.
1. Outline your skills and their value
On a sheet of paper, draw two columns. In column one, outline the skills you have that you’re most passionate about. In the second column, write how you can translate those skills into improved conditions for someone else. Let’s use myself as an example.
I’m passionate about writing and speaking. These skills translate into a whole host of improved conditions: A press release I write can translate into increased sales and awareness. A profile I write can present someone in a more favorable light. A motivational talk of mine can challenge a team to reach for higher goals. Getting into the habit of seeing your skills as assets to others will help you better sell yourself.
2. Build up your intellectual property
Intellectual property is the knowledge in your head that you put on paper, on tape, online or on video for others to use. If you enjoy writing, blog. If you enjoy being on camera, upload videos. If speaking is your forte, start a podcast. Whatever you do, pick one, and stick with it.
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3. Take inventory of your image
Start by creating a uniform web presence that makes it easy for people to find you and your intellectual property. This means buying a domain name and registering all relevant social profiles. Create a website, or have one set up with a design that reflects who you are.
Next, have professional headshots taken to use for your social profiles. In a world of selfie stick pics, a professional headshot is another surefire way to strengthen your personal brand and demonstrate to the world that you’re serious about what you do.
4. Write a compelling personal bio
Along with your professional headshot, this is the first exposure people will have to your personal brand. Make sure you make it interesting and about the recipient as much as it’s about you. This means focusing on how you’ve honed your craft over time in a way that your target audience will understand and connect with.
5. Share your knowledge with the world
Write the editor of your local news outlets, and ask about producing a column, weekly video series, podcast, etc. Be clear about what the value will be to readers, and present an outline of what you’ll cover in future stories.
Even the most hyper-local press coverage will help you stand out from the crowd and strengthen your personal brand. If a column seems too daunting to pursue, just continue to publish a steady stream of content on your website instead.
By this point, you should have a uniform web presence, a professional headshot, a compelling biography and a piece of intellectual property that has practical value for members of your target market. You know what your skills are and why they’re valuable. Now it’s all about staying consistent. Continue to create and share compelling content, and your brand will flourish.
Brian Roberts is a writer, entrepreneur and university guest lecturer from New Jersey.