In July 2015, I delivered a marketing workshop at Juniper Networks. Several friends and family asked me to share online so I broke down the content into three blog articles. The following is the 3rd article in the series. If you haven’t already, please read the first article, The Big Question to Personal Branding, and the second article, Auditing Your Personal Brand.
Let’s say you know what you want to be known for. You also know what you have (and don’t have) to advance this personal branding journey. The next step is choosing a platform.
You will most likely choose multiple platforms. Social media platforms, in particular, are free and easy to use. You may find yourself gaining different followers across different channels, but for starters, choose one platform where you can build a strong foundation.
Keep in mind that personal branding existed BEFORE the Internet. Exceptional people built and continue to invest in traditional platforms: Public speaking. Books. Newsletters. Volunteering at group meetups and ministries. Wherever there are people, you have a good chance to be recognized for what you want to be known for. Choose the platform that best suits you.
Going back to the “Threats” analysis for interns when focusing on auditing your personal brand: one simple differentiator that hiring managers and recruiters appreciate are candidates who already have a reputation and the information of that reputation is easily accessible. This can be found from their LinkedIn profiles, or even better, personal websites. A simple start is to create a two to three page site with your resume, link to your social platforms, and a brief bio. You can always add more content and expand it with time by blogging. For the lazy people out there, there is About.Me with sufficient (but generic-looking) templates. I strongly recommend you build a website that is stronger and more uniquely tailored to you.
If you are already employed at a company, take advantage of the internal communications tools for a possible platform. For example, Yammer is Juniper Networks employees’ go-to platform where the entire company can come across whatever you’d like to share. Imagine an internal Facebook but with business and collaborative purposes. Don’t be intimidated either. You have a lot to give! Ask questions. Share your innovative ideas. Your thoughts on how the company can improve. Display your passion for the company by challenging the status quo. Have a voice. Participate in company narratives.
At work, you may already be building your personal brand by delivering terrific results. But besides your manager and teammates, who else knows about your team’s accomplishments? At bigger companies, team silos are a major problem where one team has no clue what the other team is doing. However, by using a platform where all co-workers are connected, a team can add value to the larger community and shine.
Ways to Produce Value on Your Platform
- Microblog about what you’re learning. The ability to summarize and condense complex information for others to easily understand? That’s value!
- Ask questions! If you’re thinking about something or have a concern, someone else in the company may be thinking the same thing!
- Crowdsource ideas. Maybe you have a good idea of what people want, but want to verify it with the community. Create a poll and make your colleagues think.
- Create a weekly report. Focus on the latest news regarding your team’s status updates, news in the industry, etc.
- Take photos! Celebrate team events. Messages with photo attachments attract more engagement than messages without visuals.
- Spotlight the rock stars who help you achieve your goals. Spotlights aren’t about benefiting the individual. If done right, employee spotlights educate the masses on what winning looks like, what best practices are used, and most importantly, inspire people to replicate successes across the company.
Every time you share something with your peers – a presentation, an email, a tweet, a FB status update, an Instagram photo – all of this contributes to your personal brand. Do you share random things with no strategy (aka noise)? Or do you have a specific reputation for delivering interesting content that your peers anticipate?
I have a mentor named Seth Godin. No, I’ve never met him, but I love his books and blog. He introduced to me the Drip Effect. Rather than shooting your target audience with a fire hose of information, he suggests creating bite-sized, digestible pieces of information, on a consistent basis. These can be in the form of blogs, tweets, FB updates, videos – you name it. If people like what you feed them, they will opt-in, subscribe, follow and engage with you. After one year of focusing on this Drip Effect, you’ll have a bucket full of information about you and a growing base of loyal fans. The beauty of the Drip Effect is that it’s easy to get started. You start small, and keep giving small bits of valuable content. It’s not overwhelming – you don’t have to write a full white paper to get started. Yes, you plan and strategize ahead, but when it comes to distribution, it’s just one drip at a time. Microblog at first. After a month or two, you may realize that all these bits of content you’re producing can be re-tooled, recycled, and reshaped into a white paper. People love to read little bits, but some of them may be hungry for more!
Piggyback and Build Upon Other Brands
A brand is strengthened or weakened by its connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. One popular way to start is with the three C’s: company, colleagues, and college. Considering where we are and who we spend most of our daily time with – your company and your favorite co-workers are your best bet in jumpstarting or improving your brand. You can also inquire with your company’s social media team. At Juniper, we have a Digital Choice Award Winner program, where our social team trains, supports, and rewards Juniper employees who strengthen their online personal brands in association with Juniper Networks. This is a mutually beneficial system where rock star employees can share their excitement about Juniper and amplify the company’s biggest corporate narratives. People who follow Juniper Networks will eventually follow you. Likewise, people who respect and follow you may wish to follow Juniper Networks.
You want to be known for being something special. Well, you have to become it. If you’re not it yet, pursue it. How we brand ourselves not only influences the response we receive from others, this also affects how we feel about ourselves. A strong pursuit in your personal branding journey will build confidence and self esteem.
In the end, it’s not about you. It’s about your target audience.
You can try to toot your own horn. But then you run across the danger of being perceived as selfish, arrogant, egotistical, and narcissistic. There’s a balance and a lot of this is trial and error. But if you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have much problem adding value to your personal brand.
- Praise your peers, not yourself: Spend as much time (if not more) praising others with whom you work. If you give credit to your colleagues and direct reports for a job well done, they’ll be less likely to see you as a blatant self-promoter when you are the one to present at an important meeting. Instead, they’ll likely be your cheerleaders.
- Volunteer to train others: This is assuming you are a subject matter expert. if you’re not yet, become one. It’s not that difficult. You just need to put in the time and energy to become more knowledgeable and experienced than the average employee. But yes, when you add value by educating others, you are recognized as a subject matter expert. You save them time doing all the groundwork research because you train them faster. And the beauty of educating others is that you can amplify certain outcomes, initiatives, and corporate narratives by building an army of like-minded individuals who you can partner with on your mission. As Jerry Maguire once said, “Help me, help you!”
By building your personal brand, your market value will grow and exciting career opportunities will come. For those rock stars that stay with their company for the long-term, think about how lucky their colleagues are to have a dynamic advocate/spokesperson/brand-builder at their side. And that my friends, was the ultimate agenda for my workshop at Juniper. Juniper’s employment branding is only good as good as their employees say it is. All co-workers are brand ambassadors. The stronger they are, the more value they bring, and the stronger we are as a united family to make a meaningful difference.