Your Personal Brand Is a Foundation of Your Success
By Olga Tchetvertnykh, Chief Branding Officer at Build Your Presence
When you hear the term ‘thought leader’ it probably brings to mind internationally recognized people who are experts in their field. But thought leaders can be people just like you, influencing clients and colleagues in whichever organization you work for.
If you haven’t heard the term by now you must have been living under a rock. On the off chance you don’t live inside four walls and a roof, here’s a good definition:
Thought leaders are innovative and creative people who know how to package their skills and insight into a valuable commodity.
Does that sound like you?
Whilst we can’t teach you how to be creative in your business area, we can show you how to take your USP and turn yourself into a valuable brand right where you are now.
Your own organization is the perfect place to launch your brand because it’s what you know best.
Here are 5 steps to take to become a thought leader in your organization.
- Establish your brand
This step is very much of the ‘don’t run before you can walk’ kind of school of thought.
You can’t market what you don’t have, so the first thing you need to do is lay some rock-solid foundations defined by you and no one else.
What do you want to be known for and as?
Don’t let your boss or your colleagues decide this for you because it’s a very personal commitment, one that you’ll be investing time and energy into.
- Build a web presence
What’s the first thing you do when you hear something interesting or want to know more about a person? Look them up on the internet, right?
The second step is to build a web presence as that’s how you’ll create your wider network. A website will be your business card as you network internally and externally.
Your website needs to be professional, marketing-orientated, and user-friendly.
If you have the skills and confidence to do this yourself then there are tons of guides and templates you can use for inspiration, if not, get a professional. This is an investment that will pay dividends as you position yourself as a thought leader so it’s worth getting right.
Your site should be an accurate and authentic representation of who you are, the expertise you offer, and of course, your unique perspective in your field.
- Ensure consistency
Next, you need to take a detailed look at your existing social media presence.
Consistency is key to any brand so make sure your logo, colour palette, and messaging are all on-brand so when people switch from one platform to another everything is unmistakably ‘you’.
If you still intend to use social media on a personal level, separate them completely from your professional accounts.
Everything you post on your brand accounts should tie into the reputation you’re building as a thought leader and not be diluted with cat memes or rants about car salesmen. Doing so will instantly devalue your brand and therefore you.
- Build momentum
At this stage, you’ll speed up to a jog but not a full-on sprint.
Don’t say yes to every single marketing opportunity, however tempting it is. You have a day job to do and if you let that slide in favour of marketing yourself you will not only burn out, but it will also damage your brand within the organization too.
Instead, look for sustainable opportunities such as conference speaking, starting a podcast, or posting on social media.
In fact, content publishing is the cheapest and most effective way there is to build your reputation and give your brand strong and authentic foundations, so make that a priority.
This is where you’ll share your thoughts and ideas as well as begin to establish your authority.
But it has to be quality over quantity.
What you post lives forever and it’s how prospective customers, as well as your organization, will judge you now and in the future.
If your articles and posts offer value to readers it solidifies the brand you’ve created and backs up your reputation as a thought leader.
- Add novelty
Now is the time to run.
The final step is what will actually differentiate you from everyone else. Almost anyone can replicate the previous steps but there’s only one you.
Novelty is what will move you from being an established authority, someone who knows their onions, into a leader.
We talked at the beginning of this article about how thought leaders are innovative and creative. That means thinking big and generating fresh and unique ideas that will set you apart from everyone else.
As a thought leader in your organization, you’re in a unique position to know what’s working and what isn’t. What perspective or idea can you offer that no one else has in your area of expertise? What opportunities can you identify in your field that no one else has spotted?
Novelty adds leadership to thought leadership. It’s the difference between asking people to buy supermarket branded ice cream and the high-end, quality kind with unique packaging and flavor combinations.
Generic output gets generic responses, but exciting, novel and big ideas are what will catapult you into a market-leading product.