8 Steps to Start Building a Personal Brand: Not Social Media

Updated: Apr 4

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Twenty years and more ago, as an individual you needed to be a politician, a celebrity, a person at the helm of a large organisation or some kind of celebrated public figure to gain widespread attention.


Your public standing could be boosted by a trained team who would keep your exploits in the media. That media served as the “gatekeeper” for what was given attention and what was not.


Today it's different. According to the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report published by Data Reportal in partnership with We Are Social and Hootesuite, of the 7.91 billion people on earth more than two-thirds of them use a mobile phone, global internet penetration is 62.5% and “global social media users have grown by more than 10 per cent in the past 12 months”.


In short, more of us have the tools to gain more attention and become known. The phenomenon of otherwise “ordinary” individuals becoming high income earners using these tools is now well known and with that has grown the popularity of the term “personal branding”.


If you’re sold on what I believe are the 2 most important reasons why you should be building your personal brand then your next question might be, “How do I start building a personal brand?"


You can find a gazillion articles and videos on building your personal brand on social media but this article isn’t about that. It’s about how you actually get started defining what you would want that personal brand to be.



But first, what is meant by a personal brand?


Before I get to the 8 steps that I believe are truly important to get you going, let me share the simplest definition of a personal brand that I’ve devised to keep things in perspective.


“Your personal brand is the set of ideas and ideals that other people associate with you that helps them choose you.”


And choosing could be buying your product or service, referring people who will buy your product or service or choosing to engage with a cause that you support.


Whatever it is, your personal brand can bring commercial and or enrichment value to you by helping the right people choose you.


But what do you want them to choose you for? What ideas and ideals do you want to become known for and why? In other words, to start the process you want to…






1 - Clearly define your goal for building a personal brand


Whether you're a marketing and communications consultant in the Caribbean, a graphic designer in Singapore or an entrepreneur in Dubai, start by asking yourself why building a personal brand is so important to you? What do you want to achieve?


  • To attract clients?

  • To grow an engaged audience for a social cause?

  • To create a movement?

  • To become known as a thought leader in a particular industry, sector or niche?

  • Or simply to step out of the shadows and become more visible as a personal challenge or to attract new opportunities?

  • Some other reason?


Knowing what success would look like for you specifically is a good visual image to keep in your mind’s eye or as a tangible visual image to help you take action.

Oh.. and of course it’s perfectly fine for goals to evolve over time but we must start somewhere.



2 - Take charge of conveying who you are and what your ideas and ideals are. Don’t let others do that for you


Whether or not you try, people will form perceptions of you. The problem is they may have formed those perceptions based on insufficient, incorrect or skewed information or information from unreliable sources.


Personal brand building is about having a say in who people believe you are; giving them the information that guides them correctly on what you stand for, what your true values are, what your expertise is, what your true personality is. It's an intentional effort.


Don't be misunderstood, sabotaged or forgotten. Ensure you take charge of conveying what is true and unique about you and your skills in your authentic way.


The responsibility for conveying your ideas and ideals lies with you.



3 - Determine who you want to attract to your ideas and ideals


Have an idea of who you want to hear, see and engage with your ideas and how you want them to take action.


If that audience is new clients, do you know what their challenges may be, what problems they’d ideally need your help with? Do you have any information about what resources they have or don’t have? Where are you likely to find them online or offline?


If it’s people who are drawn to the same cause as you, why is that? Where are you likely to find them online or offline?


Start with whatever information you have and continue to ask questions and build relationships with those people who are already engaged with you to understand them better.


When you share your ideas, seek common ground with your audience, given the information you have.


The idea here is that we always have better conversations when we can enrich each other’s lives, inspire each other and stay relevant to each other’s needs.
So know who you want to talk to and have meaningful conversations.

The way I implement this in my own brand building activities is to speak directly to my consultant peers who I endearingly refer to as “my consultant friends and colleagues” on my social media pages.


As a consultant myself I’m intimately familiar with some of their challenges but I also take time to connect one-on-one with them.




4 - Be self-aware.


Get personal with yourself. To powerfully convey who you are, you have to intimately know yourself and honestly communicate that.


  • Be clear about your level of expertise, your strongest skills, how you create positive change for clients, or within the workplace, or as a part of a cause, etc.

  • Be clear about your character and characteristics, your attitudes, your personal values, your vision for your future, your career and your life overall

  • Be clear about what is and isn’t a fit for you based on your character and values

  • Be aware of your body language when interacting with others, be aware of how well (or not) you communicate. Start with who you are now and evaluate what you like and what you want to improve.

  • Be aware of when you need to change or evolve.


Most important, what are the ideas and the ideals for business, career, life that you hold true to and why?


The bottom line is this; be true to yourself.



5 - Learn how to articulate your key ideas and ideals; do it in your own way and make it relevant to your goal(s)


Identify and articulate your key ideas that are relevant to the goal in mind. But in doing so, own your voice, own your way of saying things.


What must you communicate powerfully and repeatedly in the same or different ways in order to achieve your goal over time?


What would you want to be known for and who would you want to be known as in getting to that goal?


What is your unique value, what are your main thoughts or potential solutions to a problem?


Identify and articulate your key ideas that are relevant to the goal in mind. But in doing so, own your voice, own your way of saying things.

6 - Be honest


Before you set about shouting your expertise and ideas to the world ask yourself,


  • Am I being honest; is this what I believe or have proven?

  • Will this bring harm?

  • Is this being said with honest intent?


Yes, be distinctive, yes articulate your ideas but be honest and bring no harm.


7 - Start small


Express your ideas and ideals in one-on-one and small group conversations with colleagues, a boss, friends, family and keep learning how to convey those ideas better and better.


You’ll get their feedback by their responses. You’ll get to understand what the reactions are to what you have to say and most importantly, you’ll get practice communicating them.


Be careful not to be dissuaded if not everyone agrees with you. That’s not the point. The point is to share your ideas, why you believe them, why they’re important to you.



8 - Expand your reach


This is usually where so much advice about building a personal brand will start with using social media and other platforms to gain visibility and build an audience. You can find tons of content on that.


What’s important to remember however is that in expanding the reach of your message, keep your goal(s), your values and your intended audience in mind.

Choose your platforms whether they are social media, panel discussions, events, webinars, a book, whatever, based on those two things. Gain your visibility in the right spaces for you.







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