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Get started with social media for personal brand

Social media can help you build your personal brand

INVEST in your personal brand. Building a personal brand will increase your visibility, help you build a reputation and establish credibility.

This is in addition to expanding your network, opportunities and even earning potential. Your personal brand is, who you are and how people perceive you.

Personal branding is the ongoing process of (defining and) refining what you stand for; communicating this through verbal and non-verbal channels.

Social media can help you build your personal brand. Before you begin using it to do so, you need to remember that social media channels are communication tools, which means that you need to first create a message and then take it online.

This is in the same way in which you would decide on what you want to talk about before you call someone to have a conversation — like the application you would use to call someone, social media is a communication tool.

This points to your personal brand needing to go beyond social media platforms as your personal brand should remain intact should any of the social media platforms close business or introduce unfavourable terms.

Your audience will still be interested in following your journey if you create a strong enough personal brand and message.

A few questions you can ask yourself if you are not sure on where to get started with building your brand are:

What do you want to be known for?

What do you stand for?

Who do you want to serve?

Answering these questions will help you create your brand message, which you can communicate through both offline and online channels.

Anything you share on social media should be aligned with your answers to these questions, and overtime when people ask about you, the answers given should be somewhat related.

This is as people will know you for the things you consistently do or talk about.

You develop a reputation based on what you consistently do as the people around will start to expect you to behave in that way. You, therefore, need to ensure you can follow through on your promise.

If you want to be known as the ‘go to’ in your industry; start working on becoming the person that can deliver as the ‘go to’ person would, consistently superseding expectations.

Each individual or group that encounters your brand should have a good report when asked what their experience was working with you.

Not being able to deliver on your promise (and who you say you are) will result in not only a loss of trust but a negative reputation. This as in the same way customers will refer you when they have a good experience, they will let their colleagues know you may not be the best option for the next speaking event, book contribution or even consulting opportunity.

Building your personal brand may seem impossible when you start, but remember that the majority of the work lies in doing what few are willing to do – going above and beyond the day to day work.

Remember that the thought leaders and industry experts you know started somewhere.

For you to know them as a thought leader, they would have been consistently working on, or sharing about their area of interest for an extended period.

They had to start before we had the advantage of social media where you can reach hundreds of people with a single post and reach out to people you would have otherwise struggled to connect with.

You trust your thought leaders because they consistently deliver and you can choose one or  two things to be consistent with on social media as you build your personal brand.

If you consistently share trends surrounding your industry, overtime people will expect you to share the insights and when asked for an expert in your industry they will more likely (remember and)  refer you over someone who would have mentioned what they do once or twice.

Given one of my most frequently asked questions surrounding building a personal brand online is “what do I share about?”, here are a few content ideas you can include in your social media strategy as you use social media to help you build your personal brand.

Industry activity and involvement

You would have noticed people sharing about events they attended, meetings they had or even books they have read surrounding their area of interest.

The only people I have seen look down upon this are people that have not tried to showcase that aspect of their work. Showing yourself in places and conversations of your subject matter shows:

You are genuinely interested in your work and understand the need to keep updated with changes in your industry.

You engage with like-minded experts giving the impression you are able to collaborate and do not view everyone as your competitor.

When you do this you also benefit from:

the power of association as being seen with trusted individuals or organisations will help you positively grow your own reputation.

Your opinion

It is easier to share information you have seen than it is to form an opinion surrounding it and consistently share this. This means that constantly sharing your opinion on topics in your industry will help you become a go to for information as not everyone will do this, and it takes time and skill to take information, and what you think in a way that can be easily understood by the layman.

It also takes courage as this opens you up to criticism.

Thought leaders are thought leaders because they share their belief and point of view surrounding industry norms, trends, models and so forth.

Also, if you share your way of thinking and an individual makes use of this information, you would have essentially taught them something and each time they make use of that information, you will come to mind.

Think about  the kind of person that typically gets invited to speak on panels or share their insights for articles in your industry. While it may be as a result of their position and organisation (which points back to the power of association); it could be because they consistently share their take on the subject matter and would bring a new or interesting angle to a conversation.

We tend to want to compare ourselves to our colleagues when they keep being invited to consult or even speak on a subject matter.

You may be the better option, but a lack of visibility will lead to you being overlooked. Social media can help you become more visible.

Business activity

If you are an entrepreneur your business can benefit from you building your personal brand. You can share lessons you have learned from building your business, about the strides you are making and your business journey. People enjoy stories.

As you share your journey, you will invite those on a similar path to engage with you, while those that aspire to be on it will look to you as you pave the way for them.

If you are in a corporation, you can share your journey by communicating what you are learning while respecting the limits that may be placed on this by your organisation.

For example, sharing about a project you worked on after it has been completed, or sharing about your early years will draw the attention of those on a similar path and those looking to be on the same path.

You can also share about how you overcame challenges that are common to your field.

There are topics that will always be of interest such as how to transition from university into corporate, as students graduate and step into new roles every year.

How you would combine these content ideas to help you grow your personal brand would be determined by your goals, resources and how quickly you want to grow your personal brand.

I often get clients that come to build their personal brand because they have something they want to do or achieve in a few months-time, which would require them to have an online presence.

I also work with experts that have decades of experience looking to start sharing their journey and mentoring or coaching candidates looking to step into the positions they are in. Regardless of why you want to build your personal brand online, start where you are, with what you have and be prepared to learn as you go.

Also remember that building your personal brand is a journey and it will not happen overnight.

  • Chikumba is an online brand strategist and content marketer, who works with people and organisations looking to bridge the gap between what they want to be known for and who they currently are. These weekly New Horizon articles, published in the Zimbabwe Independent, are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, an independent consultant, managing consultant of Zawale Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, past president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and past president of the Chartered Governance & Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe (CGI Zimbabwe). — kadenge.zes@gmail.com or mobile: +263 772 382 852.


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