How to build a great personal brand

Most people think that brand-building is just for companies and products. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Consider Chip and Joanna Gaines, owners of the Magnolia franchise and stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” Their carefully-honed personal brand has quickly propelled the success of multiple businesses, including the Silos destination in Waco, Texas; an online home goods store; their own furniture, paint and clothing lines; as well as books and a lifestyle magazine.

Almost everyone today with a social media account, such as Linked In, Facebook or Instagram, has a personal brand. Smart executives—like the Gaines’s—intentionally cultivate their brand to further their careers and propel their businesses.

Building a personal brand takes time and effort. Here are six steps to get you started:

Decide what you want your brand to say about you. If you’re a subject matter expert, this is a great place to start. Perhaps your interest doesn’t involve your career? Think of people you admire who have strong personal brands—Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk and Laura Ries are great examples. Each of them is identified by their subject matter expertise. How do you want to stand out?

Establish topics you want to cover. What are you passionate about? Are you willing to comment on industry trends and events? Are you okay with taking a contrarian position? Sketch out some topics you are interested in covering and identify what you can add to the online conversation.

Identify the tone you want to strike. Everyone has a personality and your personal brand should reflect that. Do you want your tone to be informational and educational, sassy and irreverent, funny and cutting edge? What kind of personality can you bring to your expertise…are you cerebral or outgoing, funny or serious, pleasing or mocking? The tone you take will drive the kind of content you will produce and the audience you will attract.

Look for places to contribute. While the easiest place to begin contributing thought leadership is Linked In, think about other outlets. Which publications and websites are read by your ideal audience? Will they accept thought leadership articles from you? How much time can you devote to this effort? Look for other venues that will help you build your brand, including speaking as a thought leader at conferences.

Build your online presence. Make sure your online presence reflects your personal branding. This includes Twitter, LinkedIn, professional Facebook and Instagram accounts, YouTube, a personal website/blog, etc. Make sure everything you share on these channels invokes the same voice and tone in order to further establish your personal brand.

Monitor what people are saying about you. Just as you monitor what’s being written about your company, set up alerts to scan for your name (or the name of your personal brand, if different) as well as the topics you are interested in “owning.” Join the online discussions and add value to posts. Interacting with other thought leaders’ blogs is a great way to make connections and build your following.

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