Building your personal brand is all about getting the right kind of exposure. What is “the right kind of exposure? It is the places and activities that lift your personal brand in front of your target audience.
Lofty branding goals and big audiences are one thing. Getting there is quite another thing. If you’re familiar with the realm of personal branding, then you know the basics: Be on the right social media platforms, do guest blogging, tweet every day, put videos of yourself on YouTube, etc., etc.
Those are the basics. But if you’re stuck in your personal branding efforts, it’s time to pull out the not-so-common techniques for getting more exposure. I don’t promise that these are easy, but I can guarantee that they’re going to give your personal brand the shot in the arm that it needs.
1. Write a book.
Write a book? Publish it? Isn’t that kind of, uh…daunting?
Writing a book is not as hard as you think. There are three basic steps to writing a book or major resource:
Why a book? A book signifies that you have a resource — something that is worthy of a person’s time and attention. Tweeting and Facebooking don’t warrant the level of commitment that a book does.
People read a book. They spend time on it. They are willing to exchange their email address or even money for it. A book requires engagement.
Plus, when you write a book, you get to score spots on some of the world’s leading websites.
Let me explain each of the steps involved in writing a book. I want to show you that it’s not that hard and that the payoff can be huge.
- Doing the actual research and writing. This is the most time-consuming part of the project, but you’re going nowhere unless you get it done. If you have the money, pay someone to help you. A quality freelance writer with a strong writing voice can do the writing; you just provide the ideas and guidance.
- Getting the book published. You can go the hard route or the easy route. The hard route is being published by a major publisher. Getting noticed, getting an agent, and getting your manuscript accepted is one of the most difficult things you will ever attempt. It will suck your life from your very veins, and leave you doubting your existence. The other option is to self-publish. You can release your book on your website, or you can publish it on Amazon. For maximum branding exposure, make your book free.
- Promoting the book. Easy part. Do your typical promotional stuff here — tweeting, sharing interviewing, reviewing, and discussing your book.
What does this look like in real life? Let me give you an example.
Ryan Andrew Kinder is a Reddit maniac. You don’t get this kind of redditor cred without some major commitment:
Kinder realized he had a gift for writing, and so he took to writing a book of his own. You can go buy it on Amazon for $0.99.
Ryan Andrew Kinder may not be the world’s most famous celebrity. What he did, however, is strategic.
- He invested heavily in a platform (Reddit).
- He wrote a book on a subject he was good at (big project).
- He published the book on Amazon (smart).
- He is listed on the world’s sixth top-ranked website (Amazon).
- He can now call himself an “author.”
I’m using Kinder as an example because he has successfully positioned his brand in front of the right audience.
Let me show you another example, this one from Jayson DeMers, CEO of AudienceBloom. Instead of publishing a book on Amazon, he published a book resource on his company’s website. His goal was two-fold — to grow his personal brand and to build a resource on his website that would improve SEO. Mission accomplished.
Writing a book is a massive time and resource commitment, but it pays in spades.
2. Review products or books.
Maybe you don’t have time to write a book. No problem. What about reading one or three, and then reviewing them?
Often, your target audience comprises people who read books. Not only can you be reading these books, but you can also be reviewing them. When you do this, you establish yourself as an authority.
For an example of this, let’s go back to Amazon.com. Why Amazon? First, because Amazon sells millions of books annually. Second, because people plan to buy their books from Amazon. Third, because people read reviews on books that they plan to purchase on Amazon.
As soon as a book hits the market, readers can write a review on Amazon. The reviews with the most upvotes get featured at the top of the review stack on the Amazon product page. Here’s an example of a top-rated review for the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
Notice how this review received dozens of upvotes. The reviewer has reviewed hundreds of books.
For readers of business or self-help books like Essentialism, this reviewer is an authority. He backs up his personal brand with his careful reviews.
Reviews like these get a lot of visibility and are instrumental in helping people decide to make a purchase. To get even more eyes on your reviews, you can participate in the book-loving social media site, Goodreads.
Of course, you can review more than just books. You can write reviews of software, technical equipment, computer hardware, or anything else within your niche.
3. Post on niche job boards.
Many of the people in your target audience are job seekers. Job seekers are often the up and coming movers and shakers in the industry. Soon, they will be active members of the niche in which you work. If you can gain exposure to this crowd, you’ll be able to grow your personal brand.
Here’s why this works. Employers project and create a brand. If you are an entrepreneur or visible leader of a company, your company’s branding has an impact on your personal brand.
One of the trends in the recruiting field is the rise of “employment branding.” Employment branding refers to the way that a company brands itself to prospective applicants and the public in general.
Here is a definition of employment branding according to Ere.net,
Employment branding is a targeted, long-term strategy to manage the awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders with regards to a particular firm….It works by consistently putting forth an image surrounding management and business practices that make your organization an attractive, “good place to work.”
ApplicantStack explains, “Strategic companies are focusing on developing employment branding strategies to help take their workforce to the next level.”
Basically, it’s branding. But it’s branding from a different source — the company’s recruitment strategy.
So how does this affect you personally? Let’s take a look.
Pretend that a software engineer is looking for a new gig. He knows that the place to find great jobs is WeWorkRemotely.com. He sees this posting:
The job description is compelling and attractive. In order to investigate the job more closely, the software engineer clicks through the company’s website, or reads more about the company.
The sum of this investigation is that a software engineer somewhere is 1) aware of, and 2) impressed with a company that he previously knew little or nothing about. He realizes that this company is in his niche, speaks his language, and is looking for and working with people of his particular skill set.
Each of these features is a branding signal, creating a general brand awareness in the software engineer’s mind. The software engineer, in turn, may tell a friend about the job or share the job on his social network
Now, instead of HelpScout as the company posting the job, think about your company there or your personal brand name. Awareness of your brand grows in the job applicant community. As long as you’re posting on relevant and high-quality job boards, you’ll gain exactly the kind of exposure that you want and need.
Obviously, in order to post a job on a job board, you have to be hiring for a job. Personal branding is simply a byproduct of the main effort, which is to recruit and attract talent for a specific job.
4. Publish a book on Audible.
Many professionals today get in their “reading” by using audio books. Audio books are a $1.2 billion dollar industry, and growing.
Audible, an Amazon company, is the clear leader in the audio book space. Audible’s millions of members listen to an average of 18 books each year.
Smart personal branding professionals have caught on to a fascinating and under-utilized strategy: Create and sell audio books!
This strategy is similar to the one I explained above — writing a book. The significant difference, of course, is the format and platform. An audiobook will have a different level of circulation and audience than a traditional print or digital book.
Marketer Ben Settle has used this technique to grow readership and audience. He’s involved in the typical suite of personal branding techniques such as blogging and guest blogging.
He also releases his books on Audible.
5. Do business with smart people.
If you want to have a thriving personal brand, you need to work with the best people in the industry.
When you work with smart and hard-working people, you can create something great together. I owe my personal branding in part to my business partner, Hiten Shah. We’ve built several businesses together. Without his skills and genius, there wouldn’t be any KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg or Hello Bar. By combining our skills, we’ve grown our individual personal brands.
Take Steve Jobs as an example. He worked with smart people like Steve Wozniak. Woz didn’t have the business-building or brand-building prowess of Steve Jobs. What he did have was a blazing intellect that made him one of the world’s most innovative computer engineers. Steve Jobs needed Woz to build a brand and a personal legacy.
Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This truth applies to your personal branding. You can’t expect to be successful as a personal brand if you spend your time with negative people who drag you down and burn you out. Your personal brand depends as much on the people you work with as it does upon you as an individual.
Distancing yourself from negative people is hard to do, but it’s crucial if you want to be successful. Often, in order to help more people, you have to release yourself from crippling relationships and associations.
Kai Sato said it well in his Entrepreneur article:
Here’s the really hard part: Giving a silent critique of the people you keep around you may sound judgmental and downright ruthless, but understanding their influence on your performance is critical to your success. As an entrepreneur, you have too much at stake to let this go unaddressed. If someone is bringing down your average, you have to reduce his or her involvement in your life. Not doing so may hinder your energy, vision and ultimate success.
In addition to getting negative influences out of your life, you should bring positive influences into your life. You can work with a well-known partner or expert in your industry, and share both her expertise and her personal brand.
You should hire or partner with a highly visible industry expert whom [sic] your target audience views as an authority in the area touched by your product.
I’ve learned that business partnerships are fragile things. Unfortunately, they usually don’t work. Once you do find that rare person you can work with, you’ll go places. As a result, your personal branding will take off.
If your personal brand is weak, find people who are strong. Together, you can become more than the sum of your parts.
6. Help people.
Working with talented people is important, but there’s another side to this coin. You should help people, too.
Remember, you’re creating a personal brand, not just a public image. Your personal brand is shaped by your actions with real individuals. One thing I’ve learned is that genuinely helping people is one of the only ways to be truly happy and truly successful.
Early in my career, I remember helping someone who asked me for advice. Few people hung out with him, maybe because of his broken English and body odor. As a result of the few minutes I spent helping him, I later landed a consulting contract for $1.2 million.
I wasn’t angling for any big deals, or even thinking about how this act would impact my future. I was just helping someone who wanted help. As it turns out, this event was the catalyst for greater success in my consulting business.
7. Speak at a community college or local event.
How do you get the credentials you need? You start somewhere. You start small.
A major speaker like John Bates didn’t begin his career with an invitation to speak at TEDx. Instead, he started small. Now, he trains high-powered executives to speak better.
If you want to grow your personal brand by speaking, then go for the small speaking engagements first. Local colleges are often looking for people to share their professional experience. Volunteer organizations work with people who are willing to share industry knowledge and lessons.
Use these experiences primarily to give back and to help others. You can also use them to build on your own ability to speak. The more you speak, the better you’ll get. You can list “speaker” on your public profiles, and begin pitching workshop topics for the conferences you attend.
Eventually, you might even be like Mike.
The title of this article is “7 Unlikely Places to Get More Personal Brand Exposure.” The word “exposure” implies vulnerability. You’re not going to build a personal brand unless you’re willing to risk something — to be public, exposed.
It’s not easy to stick your neck out and build a public identity. In today’s marketing environment, however, it’s an incredibly powerful advantage.
There’s no such thing as a timid brand. The world’s most notable personal brands are those that are bristling with confidence and boldness. You may not have the real life sizzle and crackle of a devil-may-care boldness, but you can cultivate that bold persona in your online branding.
Where have you gained your best personal brand exposure?
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