Do you absolutely love your current job? I am quite sure that your answer is definitely not an enthusiastic ‘yes’. Do you think that you can get a better job than this? Perhaps a more satisfying, fulfilling and a better paying one. Unfortunately, just wishing for a better job is not going to get us anywhere. That’s why I want to share with you my 7-step personal branding method which has helped me brand myself as and expert and get more job offers.
A lot of organizations want good people with good skills & experience to work with them. Though you are really good, you are not getting the job offers that you deserve because they don’t know about your existence and expertise.
I have been in a similar situation before. This problem cannot be solved by uploading our resume in more job portals, having a strong LinkedIn profile or by applying for more jobs offline. If you have tried that before, I am sure you ended up frustrated. I know because I have been there. You get irrelevant job offers and sometimes insulting ones too!
With my personal branding method, I am getting relevant and good job offers. I get at least 3-5 interview calls per month and I hardly attend one because I have already found my dream job. Now people perceive me as a digital marketing expert and I never have to hunt for good jobs again. In fact, my branding is working so well that many people overestimate my skill level and I end up under delivering. But that’s a Good Problem to Have!
The Reason Why Good People Don’t Always Get Good Jobs
Before we start discussing about my personal branding strategy, let us have a look at the reality first. Good people are not the only ones having a difficulty in finding the right jobs. Organizations are also finding it very difficult to find good people to work for them. So there are a lot of good jobs and good people but they are not dating each other. Organizations are always complaining about the difficulty of finding great people to work with them and experts are always complaining about not having enough good and relevant jobs in the industry.
Why is this happening? The reason is because we do knowledge work and knowledge work is not quantifiable.
For example, consider two people who work in a phone factory. One person assembles 100 phones a day and the other person assembles only 80 phones a day. Now it is easy to say who is the expert in assembling phones. More phones per day, the better he is.
I think you can now understand where the problem stems from. A manager who makes a hiring decision cannot measure your expertise with any tests or tools. So people hire with emotion and “gut feeling” and hence the mega mismatch between jobs and people. It takes at least 3-6 months for a manager to completely understand the unique skills of his/her sub-ordinate. So even if you really posses the skills, they may not know about it and you may lose a great opportunity.
To overcome this, you need to brand yourself in such a way to people perceive you as an expert even before they hire you. There is a market demand for experts because experts get the job done. You cannot satisfy that demand if people do not see you as an expert.
Some people think that graduating from a A+ university and having a lot of certifications helps them brand themselves as experts. It used to be true a while back but not now…
Why Qualification & Certifications Don’t Help
As I had mentioned in the post about becoming a self made digital marketing expert, certifications don’t prove that you are an expert. That’s because the market is crowded with too many certifications. The industry has already burnt its fingers by finding out very late that those who have good certifications are not always experts in their area of work. The industry needs thought leaders now, not just experts.
Businesses and organizations are running out of options to find good candidates to fill important roles in their company. Hiring people who have graduated from good tier-1 B-Schools and universities is a relatively safer bet for them. But getting into a good university doesn’t mean that you will get the right job. You may get a high paying one, but not the right one because…
When you have several years of experience and your skill set is more concentrated on the recent experience that you have gained, a “heavy resume” with certifications and the crown of graduating from a tier-1 university is the last thing that you would need to get your dream job. Instead of getting certifications and further degrees, your time is better invested in branding yourself as an expert and a thought leader in your area of work.
Networking Helps, But it’s Not Enough
Networking can be a great tool to connect with interesting people in quality organizations and can help you a lot in getting a good job. In fact, a study states that 70% of the really good jobs in the market get filled through networks and referrals and only 30% of the vacancies need to go through the traditional hiring process.
But there is a limit to how much you can expand your network and how engaged you can be with your network. The larger that you grow your network, the thinner you spread yourself. You may have met a really influential person in an event but if you never engaged with him for the past 6 months, he is not going to remember you. Even if he remembers you, why would he go the extra mile to recommend you to someone if he hasn’t had the opportunity to know that you are really good at what you do?
All the above problems can be solved with proper personal branding. With tested and proven techniques which I am about to reveal, you can grow your network to really big numbers and also engage with everyone using similar techniques that corporate brands use to market themselves. The good part is that with today’s digital marketing techniques, personal branding & marketing is not as costly as it used to be. All you need is a few dollars and reasonable amounts of your time & energy.
Is it OK to Brand and Market Yourself?
I agree that the idea of marketing yourself may feel a little creepy in the beginning. You have to first overcome that hesitation. If you are really good at something, it is your responsibility to let the world know about it.
My branding strategy is based on how companies market their brands to their customers. But it is not the marketing that you see around you. Don’t worry! I am not going to ask you to create banner ads for yourself and start an advertising campaign!
My marketing strategy is based on inbound marketing and not outbound marketing. (You may want to read my article about inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing first if you haven’t). Inbound marketing is a very subtle and powerful way to market a brand. It is based on trust and feels much more natural than outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is so natural that people and brands can market themselves and the audience would never feel like they are being marketed to*.
How Ordinary People Become “Experts”
Becoming an expert is the easy part. Many people are experts already in what they do. Including YOU! Everyone has unique ideas, skills and experience. The hard part is being recognized as an expert in the world that we live in.
Some people are good at branding themselves as experts, for some the branding happens naturally and some don’t even try. The people who do not proactively brand themselves as experts will never get the good opportunities.
The web definition of an Expert is: a person who is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area.
But because we live in a knowledge work economy, it is not easy to find out if a person is really knowledgeable or skillful. We can only perceive who the experts are. We humans recognize someone as an “expert” when they fit into many (if not all) of the following perceptions.
- Experts share their knowledge with others. They publish articles on reputed publications, newspapers, magazines and blogs.
- Many experts are authors of books. They also publish great informative articles on their own blog. Their blog is read by many people.
- Experts speak in seminars, do guest lectures in universities and they get paid a lot.
- Experts are not just “I-know-a-lot-of-stuff” people. They also have unique ideas, concepts and theories which they have developed over a period of time. In short they are authorities and thought leaders in their field of work.
- Experts also train other people. They charge a lot for the training. The Experts of experts charge even more.
- They work as consultants to many businesses and organizations because… well, they are experts!
If an expert does none of the above, then it would be quite difficult for us to accept that he/she is an expert. On the flip side of the coin, if you want the world to perceive you as an expert, you should start doing as many things as possible from the list above and slowly you will climb the “expertise ladder.”
From an Expert to Thought Leader
There is a hidden benefit in this branding process. When you brand yourself by showcasing your knowledge (by teaching other people what you know), you organize your thoughts in a better way and helps you increase the level of expertise that you already have.
When you teach someone what you know, it is not easy for the student to understand it right away. That’s because your knowledge is unorganized & scattered in your mind. It tires and frustrates you when your student doesn’t understand what you already know. This forces you to make the presentation simpler so that the knowledge transfer is easy. But you can only make it simpler when you understand it one step better.
So the very process of teaching, showcasing your knowledge and hence personal branding helps you understand what you know in a better way. This increases your level of expertise. It helps you build on top of what you already know and understand. This process naturally gives way to the next level: becoming a thought leader! Einstein understood this very well.
If the above quote by Einstein is true, the reverse is also true:
“When you try to explain a concept in a simple way that others can understand, you understand it better during the process.”
I spent almost a week to write this article about personal branding, and while doing it, I understood personal branding better! This makes me even more good at personal branding than I previously was because new ideas are popping up in my mind. 🙂
Now that we know what to do, let us explore how to do it…
Digital Deepak’s 7 Step Personal Branding Method
With the latest technology, it is much easier to start teaching others what you know and also get instant feedback. If your teaching is profound, it can reach a lot of people very easily, very quickly. My personal branding method is tailored for the digital age. Here are the 7 steps involved in it.
7 Steps to Great Personal Branding
- Start Documenting your Learning, Thoughts and Ideas.
- Create a Brand Identity for Yourself
- Create your Digital Communication & Broadcasting Channels
- Discover, Learn, Think & Share
- Publish EPIC Articles on your Primary Blog
- Write, Speak, Train & Help
- Market Yourself to Take it to the next level
1. Document Your Learning, Thoughts and Ideas
When you specialize in a specific area, most of your learning and experience will not be in a format that can be readily shared with others. It has to go through a refining process before it becomes in a share-able format. You need to start training yourself for that. The best way to get started would be starting taking down notes. These notes would be a mixture of your learning, thoughts and ideas.
If you want to do it the old style, you can do it in a proper notebook with a pen. I do it many times. The joy of writing is unique. I also take notes in Evernote and sometimes go ahead and publish it on my not-so-serious blog. The other blog that I have: Deepak.biz is an informal and casual blog where I write posts as small as 50 words when I feel like writing something.
Such notes, small blog posts and other tit bits of information act as a foundation for more serious content. For example, I publish an article in this blog DigitalDeepak.com only once in a while but they are comprehensive and in-depth articles. Such articles are a result of my notes, small blog posts and tit bits of ideas gathered over time.
The notes also serve as seeds for rich content such as presentations, infomovies (presentation style videos), ebooks, books, training material and so on.
2. Create a Brand Identity for Yourself
You would have noticed that many brands try to be consistent with their colors, logos, punch lines and usernames. You recognize the brand in different places like Facebook, twitter, website and even in offline places like expos and events. I believe you would agree with me that having a different version of their logo in each place would be disastrous for their branding.
However we feel its quite OK with putting different pictures of our face with different usernames all over the internet. Though having a slightly different version of your profile pic has its own advantages (more on this later), it helps to keep the branding as consistent as possible. Personal online branding elements include profile pics, usernames, primary colors, taglines, elevator pitch, about me text and website URLs.
Checklist for creating your brand identity:
- Hire a professional photographer and get a professional picture taken with different back drops. This should be your profile picture across all professional communication channels. You can have 2-3 versions of your profile pic as long as there is no major difference. The primary goal is that people should instantly recognize you from your photo.
- Create a nick name for yourself related to your industry. For example, since I specialize in Digital Marketing I got the name Digital Deepak. Make sure that it is not too generic. It has to be unique enough to get consistent usernames/handles in many platforms. If you google “Check social media usernames” you will find a lot of websites which will help you find out whether your username or handle is available across many social media websites.
- Create a short and long elevator pitch for yourself. It is a description of yourself that you can communicate in 30-90 seconds, the average time it takes in an elevator. If someone asks who you are and what you do, you shouldn’t think on your feet. This elevator pitch will go into your about section is various online platforms. The short elevator pitch will also be your author bio if you are publishing an article in any publication.
3. Create Your Digital Communication and Broadcasting Channels
Your digital channels will be your primary tool to brand yourself online. The most important and central channel should be your primary blog. For example, this blog DigitalDeepak.com is my primary channel where I publish the best content and attract a huge audience. The other channels such as twitter, facebook, your secondary blog etc. should drive traffic to your primary channel.
You can collect email subscribers from your primary channel and whenever you publish new content, you can notify your subscribers about your fresh content and drive traffic back to your blog. Whenever you publish something new in your blog, you should update all your other social media channels – this helps bring traffic back to your blog. You can read my post about integrated digital marketing if you really want to get serious about driving traffic to your blog.
4. Discover, Learn, Think & Share
Whatever field you are in, there would be news, blog articles, videos, tweets etc. related to your industry. Keeping yourself updated about what’s happening in your field is something that you would be doing already. It makes branding sense to share this on your social media channels with your followers. This helps establish the fact that you are updated about what’s happening in your industry and also reminds other people that you are an expert in this field.
For example, whenever I discover something new and interesting in digital marketing, I share it across all the channels. All my connections and followers are subtly reminded that Deepak is a Digital Marketing guy! This actually worked when I met a person in an event. He was connected to me on LinkedIn. We had never met before and when I tried to introduce myself, he instantly recognized me and said “Oh, you are the guy who keeps sharing stuff about digital marketing on LinkedIn!” It helped a lot in breaking the ice and then I had no problem boasting about my achievements and expertise in digital marketing!
Apart from just sharing the links that I discover, I also add something of my own. This makes me more human instead of looking like an automatic bot sharing the links! 🙂
If I learned something new and have some new ideas from my discovery, I blog about it in my secondary blog. This doesn’t take much time because usually the blog posts are 50-100 words long and are as easy as Facebook or twitter updates. I share this again on my social media channels and it helps bring some traffic to my secondary blog. These blog posts may not be worthy enough to be referred to and linked back from other places, but still it gets some traction and helps in branding.
5. Publish EPIC Articles on Your Primary Blog
Whenever you feel like writing something, your secondary blog is there for you just to absorb what you say. But your primary blog should contain only Epic articles. By epic, I mean the articles which are in-depth, well researched and worth linking back to from the inter webs.
For example, I have published only 25 articles in this blog so far, but each article is unique, original and worth reading (Is it?). In my experience, long in-depth articles always get more traffic than the shorter ones. The longest article published in this blog before this article naturally brought me the maximum number of visitors.
Such epic articles are like mini ebooks or chapters of a book. The content should be so valuable that each article on its own should be worthy of getting a promotion. Apart from sharing these epic articles on social media, I create “Trailer” pieces of the epic content and distribute it in different channels to promote my epic articles.
For example, I wrote a post about 7 Ways to convert website visitors into leads in this blog. Then I created a presentation on the same with limited and uploaded it slideshare.net. Anyone interested in converting more visitors into leads would see that presentation and for more detailed information they would visit my blog article. The same presentation can be converted into a video using keynote and uploaded to YouTube. On a later date, you can also combine several articles and compile them into a book with minor modifications. For all the content that you create the copyright is owned by you anyway.
6. Write, Speak, Train & Help
Experts on a subject can do different things, but in my research of several experts across different industries the most common things they do which helps them in their branding are write, speak, train and help. For example, Seth Godin – an expert in marketing writes on his blog, writes books, writes wherever he can, speaks in several events and he is definitely in demand for training and consultancy though he doesn’t do it much recently.
So by reverse engineering the process, you can be perceived as an expert if you write, speak, train and help. You will not be able to speak, train and help right away because first you need to brand yourself.
Depending on how good you are in your subject and in marketing yourself, you would get offers for speaking, training and helping people & organizations. Helping involves both consultancy and being a full time employee. The more you do it, the better you become at both your subject matter and marketing yourself and your demand will grow slowly but exponentially. Once you reach a critical level of branding and connections, your demand will skyrocket.
7. Market Yourself to Take it to the Next Level
All the methods discussed above so far doesn’t cost much. But once you start generating some income from your branding efforts you can take it to the next level by reinvesting some of the profits. Here are some crazy & powerful ideas to market yourself:
- Create a banner and retarget people with tools like AdRoll.com. For example, if someone has visited your training page, retarget them with your training offer. If some one visited your hire me page and downloaded your resume, retarget them.
- Create an online training program and promote it using affiliate partners. For example, you can charge a one time fee of Rs.10,000 for your course and offer Rs.3000 as commission for anyone who promotes it.
- Write a great ebook and promote it at 70-100% affiliate commission. Say your ebook costs Rs.299, offer Rs.250-Rs.299 commission for anyone who promotes it on their channels. You do not incur any costs because ebooks are digitally downloadable. But you will get some serious readers and followers for your blog and perhaps they will check out your training program too!
- Hire a virtual assistant as a manager for your personal brand. She can send emails to several universities, event organizers and organizations informing them about your expertise and your services for speaking, training and consulting. If actors and celebrities can have such managers, why can’t we!
- Buy a premium SMS service, collect people’s phone numbers while collecting their email IDs and ping them whenever you publish a new blog post.
- Instead of using free email subscription services like Feedburner, use MailChimp, Aweber or GetResponse to manage your email subscribers. Read my post about permission marketing.
- Create a forum within your blog and make it a platform for discussion on the subject your specialize in. Invite other experts in your field to participate in the forum.
- Review books on your blog. The authors of those books are likely to link to your reviews and it also establishes the fact that you have read those books!
- Hire designers to create infographics of your top content and publish them. Infographics usually generate a lot of buzz.
The above ideas are just some of the ideas which I got when trying to promote my personal brand. There are literally infinite ways to promote yourself and strengthen your brand.
I hope this post has given you a ton of ideas about personal branding. If you found this post useful, share it, tweet it and pass it along. If you have any questions or any ideas, comment below!
* Somewhere in the post above I mentioned that inbound marketing is so powerful that the audience never feels like they are being marketed to! Well, did you feel that you were being marketed to all this while? 🙂