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Personal branding basics: The content question

“When you come to a fork in the road – take it.” – Yogi Berra

While it may seem nonsensical from a logical point of view, Yogi’s advice applies exactly to the content you must create for a successful personal brand. Your content must focus on two areas (although not in equal proportions):

  • Your profession, and
  • Your personality.

Consider the successful outcomes you want from your personal branding efforts:

  • You want people to consider you an authority, and
  • You want to be the kind of authority that people like and are willing to listen to.

For these reasons, the laws of personal branding basics say that you need to convince people that you know what you’re talking about, and at the same time reveal enough about yourself that they will want to spend time with you.

These qualities will serve you well when you want to grow your business or when you start knocking on doors (or sending out emails) to launch a new idea or simply get a new job.

I’m not going to spend much time here talking about the avenues you use to establish your personal brand; you probably know most of them. They are all communication pipelines and vary from short Twitter posts (and other social media posts) to longer blogs to video (Internet and broadcast) to presentations made before small, medium, and large audiences.

Personal branding basics: Professional content

There are two dimensions to the professional content you present: original and curated. You want to create solid original content, and by “original” I mean that it needs to be your ideas and sufficiently unique. (I know that “sufficiently” shouldn’t really be used to qualify the word “unique.” However, there’s really nothing – or very little – new under the sun, so you need to work hard to find the inventive variations that set your content apart from all the other content competing for eyes and ears.)

Perhaps you have insights into your niche unlike most others. If so, develop and express those to their maximum benefit. However, what makes you unique, might be more subtle.

The Next Food Network Star has been on the Cooking Channel this summer and the judges are always urging the contestants to find and express their own point of view, or POV as it’s often expressed. The unique element to your professional content could be your POV. It might unfold from your worldview, your background, or the way you see the consumers of your product or service.

Further, don’t be afraid to swim against the tide. If everyone in your industry is going toward automation to lower prices, why not make the case for higher-priced hand-crafted products?

The point is that the “public” needs to have some handle to grab on to when they think of you. Don’t be afraid to be professionally controversial. There’s an old saying: If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. I also like what Ambrose Bierce said:

We know what happens to people who stand in the middle of the road. They get run over.

I have one final thought here and it connects your professional content to your personal content: Establish your “voice.”

It might be that your voice is what separates your professional content from everything else being expressed in your niche. Maybe you’re funny, irreverent, or even sarcastic. Develop those qualities. I see hundreds of posts and blogs every week that are just “blah.”

You could have a formula for turning lead into gold, but if you bore people to tears during your presentation, no one’s going to listen to you.

Personal branding basics: Personal content

Your personality really needs to shine through on your “personal” personal branding content. I consistently find that the social media posts that give my followers a peek into my personal life create the greatest engagement.

I don’t think this should come as a surprise; I believe that the biggest reason social media has exploded over the last decade is because people have a desperate hunger to make personal connections. Give them those personal connections and I’m certain that you’ll experience a better engagement rate as well.

One last note that ties all of this together. While you can have a team – or agency – working on your social media marketing, you need to stay involved. Your voice, your personality, your viewpoint must always be present, especially when you’re working hard to build your personal brand – that is truly one of the most important personal branding basics.

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