First, let’s remove two misconceptions about what a personal brand is. I think when most people hear the term they automatically start thinking of product brands and their tag lines-
- I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.
- Nike: Just Do It.
- What’s in your wallet?
The second thing most people start to think about when hearing the term “personal brand” is creating their online identity, such as their LinkedIn profile, their social media accounts and possibly their own website. While having a digital footprint is important to your brand, it is not everything. In fact, it is not even the most important thing. On the one hand, all of these things can help create your brand. However, if they are not built on the right foundation they can also just be showy pieces of fluff.
There is something you need to start doing first, before you worry about building an online profile. This is the thing you can start doing as soon as you have finished reading this article, and it is the thing that will be your professional foundation: You need to start being helpful.
That’s it. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. You see the first thing about building a brand is forgetting about you and focusing on others. Start being a person of service and you’ll start building a brand. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and consistent effort, but in the long run you’ll become known as a go-to person in your field. You’ll be the person people seek out for advice, a word of encouragement, or simply a sympathetic ear.
You don’t need to be an expert, you don’t need to have all the answers. What you do need to be is sincere. Then, if you are genuinely seen as the helpful one in the room, you can create an online identity to match. You do not have to be flashy or look like the celebrity of your profession. You just need to be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses. Show yourself trying to improve and honestly caring about other people’s struggles as well.
Be of service
That is what creating a personal brand is all about.