Personal Branding, Self Promotion and the Art of Marketing Yourself

How do you feel about marketing yourself?

Does it feel too self-focused, conceited or arrogant?

Whenever I write about personal branding, self-promotion or anything along those lines – I feel like I’m coming off a bit shallow.

But marketing is a powerful tool for a reason.

Corporations spend millions and millions of dollars on marketing efforts to create a brand, distribute the awareness of their brand, and of course to promote products and services. It’s a natural and essential part of business. Today I’m going to talk about the human side of the marketing coin – marketing yourself.

Self Promotion: The Road to Getting Known

To me, self promotion is a bit awkward at times. But no matter how we slice it, everything we do shapes our personal brand in one way or another. It’s a matter of us owning the promotion ourselves or allowing others to define who we are from their own perceptions or misconceptions of us.

If we don’t own it, we risk being labeled in a light that doesn’t accurately represent who we are.

If you want people to know who you are and to recognize you for a particular skill-set, qualification or interest – then you have to create a lasting awareness. The best way to do this is by sharing your personal stories that make you who you are.

Stories create lasting memories.

A couple of weeks ago I posted 10 of the most commonly asked questions (along with my answers) that I receive via email in an article entitled Why I Hustle. I recently read through the 100+ comments (including my replies) and discovered that I shared my discomfort with publishing the article a number of times…I thought it was a bit too self promotional, although that wasn’t a part of my plan.

The overall reader-reaction to the article was great. It was one of the most viewed articles I’ve ever published…and during its week of sitting at the top of this blog, it yielded a 16% increase in subscribers. I share the numbers to make a point that even though it may feel a bit uncomfortable to share your personal stories, in the name of establishing a name for yourself – most people appreciate learning about you.

People respect, appreciate and want access to “who you are” because:

  • It answers naturally formed questions – helping to build a relationship with people you don’t even know.
  • People are instinctively curious and want to know why you are the way you are, and why you do what you do.
  • You get to clear up misconceptions that may have been formed about you…turning a negative light into a positive one.

Check out Srini of The Skool of Life. He chronicles [what I refer to as] his saga of living abroad as an avid surfer and entrepreneur. Not only is he living is dream, but he’s making a name for himself in the process…such as his upcoming speaking engagement at  Blogworld New York in the coming weeks. Whenever I see or think of surfing, I think of Srini and all that he represents.

How to Promote your Personal Brand

Let’s start with an Example…

When I start a new blog, I also start a new personal branding campaign. To a degree, we all do this. I take the opportunity to meet new people and tell them about myself. This is generally (hopefully) before people have the chance to form any lasting/negative misconception about me.

There are three things that I like to get out as quickly as possible. These things define what I want others to know about me and what is authentically accurate about me:

  1. I’m a family man. It’s my first earthly priority and work never trumps family.
  2. I look to work in an efficient environment. I want to work really hard, for as few hours as possible each day…so I can get home to my family.
  3. I’m interested in being a high performer and getting optimal results. My aim is to be ‘of the best’ consistently with the purpose of maximizing my compensation…but never at the sacrifice of my family time.

This is how I initiate my personal brand campaign. The drift is all centered around performance, and lead by my priorities. I make it clear that I never-ever put work first…but I always give always my best effort towards my job related responsibilities.

All of this takes time…it’s not a 1 week formula. But having actions that consistently match your messaging, and performance that detects that you’re the “real deal” – conditions (not in a bad way) people to identify you in the light you want to be projected in. So sure, I probably work less than 40 hours per week, but people don’t identify me by that, they identify my performance.

Another Example…

Check out Frank Jennings’ About Page (ASparkStarts.com). On it, you’ll find a powerful personal story that captures the complete essence of his personal brand. It’s crafted in a story-like format which you’ll be sure to remember after reading it.

How to Frame Your Messaging…

It all comes down to being real. If you speak on something, but never deliver – the void will always sit in the back of people’s head about you. So it’s not a matter of saying what sounds good, but it’s a matter of projecting what’s real.

Faking it until you make it wont get you far. In time, the truth will catch up with you and you’ll be exposed.

A few tips to consider:

  • Don’t be someone else, just be you. It’s really simple and even natural if you’re honest.
  • Don’t go over the top, it gets a negative effect.
  • Let it happen, don’t force it. It’s a thin line to walk between… and a line that you don’t want to crossover. It’s like the difference between old-school outbound marketing, and the new inbound marketing model.

Marketing is a Skill. Marketing Yourself is an Art

(honestly, marketing in general is an art…but that header sounded soooo good!)

See, it’s not so bad is it. It’s taking the ranks into your own hand and marketing your business (yourself) in a deliberate fashion; in a light that you want to be seen in.

It allows you to control the perception that others form, all while creating a name for yourself and in the very image that accurately and honestly portrays who you are.

The reason I’m so passionate about this topic is because if you market yourself well enough, eventually others will do it for you. Three of my last job offers have come as direct word-of-mouth-referrals; each advancing my career and extending my ability to take care of my family on a financial level. How cool is that!

Discussion
Now for the fun part…

  • Do you make lasting impressions…how so or why not?
  • What do people think of when your name comes up in a conversation?
  • Has your personal brand benefited you in a tangible way?

*Bonus – For those of you who I know well enough, I will share what your brand represents to me, in my reply to your comment.

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