The Personal Branding Conversation

Guest article by Charles Brown

Robert Gentle, in his book “Consultant – Market Yourself,” says that there are three ways to get business:

  1. You to client: “Can I do some work for you?”
  2. You to client: “I’m really good. Can I do some work for you?”
  3. Client to you: “We’ve heard you are really good, and we’d like you to do some work for us.”

Which of these conversations would you rather have with a potential client or employer? Obviously the third conversation is what we all aspire to achieve, but few of us actually get there. Instead, most business people and job seekers find themselves engaged in conversations one or two (and that is assuming they even get to have a conversation at all with the people we want to talk to).

The first two conversations are old school, “interruption marketing” methods that involve clamoring for attention and making vague claims about being “really good.”

But conversation number three is the result of an effective personal branding campaign.

Perhaps the best examples of personal branding comes from politicians (hold on, I’ll wait a moment for you to stop snickering). Every time a politician runs for office, he or she strives to accomplish two things:

  1. Name recognition. A candidate is doomed to fail on election day if voters ask “Who?” when they see his or her name on the ballot.
  2. But name recognition is not enough. Candidates also strive to convince voters that they are better able to solve certain problems than their opponents.

These same two goals apply to anyone seeking to establish a personal brand. It is not enough to achieve name recognition or brand awareness. That recognition must also be attached to a perception that you are very good at solving problems your client or employer are struggling with.

So how does one create both name recognition and this problem-solving perception?

The answer is to create valuable, informative content. Generally, content can come in the form of blog articles, videos or audio files posted on the web. In the offline world, content can be books, trade magazine articles, newsletters or seminars.

Your personal brand will be a direct result of the quantity and quality of the content you produce and make available.

Many professionals object to the concept of giving away their best ideas in the form of free content. My answer to this objection is that keeping your ideas to yourself is fine if you want to engage in conversations one or two, but if you want to attract potential clients and employers, you need to be willing to give information away.

Why? The more information I give away, the more other people initiate contact with me. I get a lot of those number three conversations simply because I make my ideas available to others. I get business, speaking engagements and offers to write for other websites or publications. And I expand my network of people who have heard about me and perceive that I am good at solving their problems.

Let’s look specifically at how this applies to people seeking new jobs.

I predict the day will come in which blogs will entirely replace resumes for highly skilled job seekers. A resume is a number two conversation to an employer. It is a declaration that “I am really good, hire me.”

Moreover, the typical resume comes in the door and winds up in a stack on someone’s desk. That resume would have to be really remarkable to stand out among all of the other resumes.

But a blog, written by someone who has taken the time to study the problems an industry faces, stands out. It is an example of personal branding at its best. A blog can put you in the position to receive a lot of number three conversations.

Your blog’s content not only establishes name recognition, it also conveys to a prospective employer that you are very good at solving that business’ problems.

In addition to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sites are also great places to build your personal brand. These sites can be the places you either post your own original content, or where you can provide resource material of where your followers can find the information they seek.

The lesson here is that old school interruption marketing is getting harder and harder to implement. The people you want to talk to are no longer receptive to conversations one and two. They want to find out about you online and then initiate number three conversations.

About Charles Brown

Charles Brown is a blogger, speaker and consultant that helps professional services firms market themselves with personal branding, social media marketing and content marketing. His blog, The Web Marketing Coach.
He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/charbrown.

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