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The Building Blocks of your Personal Brand

So you’ve started to build your personal brand… It’s kind of the essential part of most careers. Entrepreneurs are known just as much as the companies they run, founders are the immediate choice as the face of their start ups, and employers are skimming over resumes and looking at each candidate’s brand equity, whether it’s a blog, portfolio or social influence.

Remember when you needed to be scared of what dirty secrets your Facebook profile might show your employer because it could get you fired? It wasn’t that long ago.  Now, those hundreds of friends could be your leverage.  Yes, your social media klout could be your edge on the competition.  Social media jobs are in demand, but that’s just a part of the equation.
Creating a personal brand doesn’t need to dilute what your core responsibilities are.  Having a side hustle is more acceptable and even praised today.  Making it your own will be more valuable, trust me.
I started with the side hustle during my first job. It was awesome, and even encouraged by my managers. I build a good little eBay business while I was in high school.  No questions were asked, my age wasn’t a problem and geographic boundaries didn’t slow me down.  I build this quietly, only a few people knew. Namely, my mom who had to put up with the dozens of sneakers in the house, the industrial packing supplies and the constant trips to CanadaPost, UPS and FedEx.
There wasn’t any attachment to my name, unless you happened to purchase one of my auctions or listings. I was anonymous… Same with the next opportunity.  I didn’t see value in adding my name to something.  Growing up in Vancouver, we didn’t have a lot of named entrepreneurs (not that I could keep up) outside of Jim Pattison.
That second business was a successful basketball league. Then years later I got back to the sneaker game by way of blogging.  The closest thing to using my name, the entire collection of blogs falls under the nickname I gained while working at Nike; Skip.  Yes, I’m Sneaker Skip. The handful of blogs that have a collective following of 50,000+.
At the time, it was as comfortable as I could get. I felt like I needed the brand to prove itself and I could graciously walk out one day after the business had reached some unnamed milestone of success.  I feel there is a lot here that I would have liked to rewrite, things that I should have taken ownership of. Feeling comfortable in my own skin and not feel like I needed to build brands from behind the scenes.
Being in the forefront is part of the equation, and after spending all that time in the background, I’d like to give you the building blocks to creating a strong personal brand.

Own It

The first thing is to consistently find your social media handles and domain.  Consistency is key here.  It’s easier now for me to put @chrismilt on everything because that’s the same for my twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat and linked in now.  If your lucky enough to not need to modify your name (I’m up against a few other Chris Milton’s around the world), scoop up the user names, and register the domain.  Even if you’re just forwarding the domain to your About Me page or a social profile. You’ve got it.  Domains are cheap, hosting is too, but you might not be ready for a website just yet.

Working in an industry you like will yield better results by chris milton

Find your personal Niche

I remember hearing from a lot of teachers, “you study harder if you like the topic.” The same is true here. Working in a industry that you like will yield better results. You’ll be happier, and will see opportunities that others without your enthusiasm will miss.  Look back at my background, something always lead back to sports.  Finding your niche can be as simple as following this formula I picked up from Mariah Coz:
Your Niche = OBSESSION + SKILL for a SPECIFIC PERSON/AUDIENCE
What immediately came to mind for me was sports + marketing/business/coaching for amateur sporting organizations.  Second was marketing + coaching for small business owners in real estate or fitness.  Both of these niches are industries that I love. If I’m browsing online, I’m probably reading an article about one of those bold words above.

Position yourself

Figuring out where you fit is awesome! Now you need to figure out what your trying to get out of all this. Your personal brand should open doors for you.  Create opportunities. And most importantly, be the full story that you can’t give during an elevator pitch.
Your outcome could be things like:
  • get into a school
  • land a job
  • change careers
  • get clients
  • build a reputation
  • create authority in an industry
  • showcase your skills
No matter the outcome, you need to plan it.  For myself, I started to build my personal brand so I could formally showcase my abilities and have the opportunity to work with some new coaching clients and have more speaking opportunities.

Speak to your Audience

With your niche and outcome being crystal clear, think about who needs to see your brand to create that outcome.  Those people, the ones “holding the keys to the castle,” are particularly important.  In fact, it’s so important, you should focus your message to that one person.
Imagine walking into an interview and the person already has a really good idea of who you are. Even better, they are looking forward to meeting with you.  Oh yes, this is a reality.  Your resume should be the hook.  Your personal brand takes it from there and creates a much friendlier interview environment.

Evolve over Time

Much like I’ve changed my ways, it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes and change over time.  We are all expected to grow.  This evolution is expected by your audience. Documenting the journey is exciting. You have value to give now, you shouldn’t be waiting for things to be perfect.  The best example I can give are social influencers.  While they seem like everyday people on the outside, behind the scenes there are massive contracts from big companies who want them to promote their products simply because they have a influence over a large audience.  I’m amazed (and super intrigued) by YouTubers who have made these collaborations work in a subtle and tasteful manor.
Looking back on this post in a few years, I’ll probably think, I’ve come so far, I can’t believe I wrote this. And that a good thing.  Personal growth from feedback, experiences and knowledge is what adds value to the audience.  Keep growing, keep building.

Control the Brand, don’t let the Brand control you

Your brand should grow in line with your growth.  I knew with some of the businesses I built, I was never going to keep up.  One day the brands would be beyond me, and it was true in a couple cases.  Although those were the successful ones, this is your brand,  your personal representation of yourself.  Always control it by staying active, contributing to personal growth and staying proactive for your audience.
If your niche and outcome change, adapt. Your audience will get it.  They like you! If your aiming for a career change, you wouldn’t want to keep talking about changing careers once you’ve landed that great position. Your going to talk about the job! Keep the story fresh and authentic.

Start Now

This is the conclusion,  it’s short because you’ve got a lot ahead of you.  Don’t drag your feet on this one.  Your personal capital relies on your brand.  Start now, even if it’s just owning it while you plan out the rest, take that first step.

 

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