Would you like to be taken more seriously in your career? Do you want to advance your career or pivot? Personal branding can help you with all of this by boosting your professional authority and influence.
In this post, I will clarify what personal brand is, why you should care , and how you can cultivate your own individual brand to move ahead.
Let’s get into the definition.
Personal Branding Definition
Personal branding, or self branding, treats you as a brand, enhancing your reputation and yourself just as you would an actual business.
There are many ways that you can brand yourself. But all emphasize you and your expertise. A personal brand distinguishes you as influential, as someone with his or her finger on the pulse of industry dynamics and poised to offer solutions.
Why Personal Branding Is Crucial to Your Overall Strategy
Whatever goals you have for your career, an individual or personal brand will help you achieve them. Perhaps you want to build hype for a new book, close new clients, or charge a higher premium for your services. More influence and authority will be an important ticket to achieving this.
Consider. When people perceive you as an important industry figure, your value increases. When you speak, others listen. And your importance cascades to many areas of your careers.
Shameless Self-Promotion: For some 25 years, I helped take virtually unknown people from anonymity to industry icon. Now I do that for experienced professionals 50+ wanting more influence, authority and career opportunities. Schedule a complimentary call with me.
Have I convinced you yet?
If so, you most likely have one question: How do I do it?
And that’s what I want to help you with today. Below I’ve collected 8 tips and strategies to help you build your professional authority and influence and put it to work for you. Let’s get into it.
8 Tips for Personal Branding That Will Boost Your Authority
1. Create Content
Content is a pivotal part of your brand. A piece of content will reach far more eyeballs than you personally could, even if you went to every possible event and conference in your industry?
But what should you create for content?
Seek ideas from what’s happening in your industry. Consider newsworthy events, tool releases, updates, industry research … anything your target audience would want to know.
Choose a platform where your audience regularly gets content. If you have a blog, that’s a great place to house your content. But don’t forget about other sites where you can write and publish content. This could be on LinkedIn, where you can write an article on their publishing platform right from within your account. You could also use a site like Medium. It’s free to use, has its own humungous audience, and has a built-in publishing platform.
Another great option is to guest post for other major sites in your industry. If you’re in a business-focused industry, you could pitch a post to Forbes or Entrepreneur. If there are other, smaller industry blogs that you know your target audiences reads, reach out to one of them to see about guest posting opportunities.
I have successfully pitched myself and my clients to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and other major as well as regional outlets. And you don’t need to be a well-known person. Just have an engaging, relevant story to tell.
It’s a small word, but one that can have a major impact on how you connect with others. This is true both on a small scale, within your office, and also on a larger scale in the greater arena of your industry.
Being an authority does not mean always taking center stage. It means earning people’s respect so that they want to give you that center stage.
How do you do that?
The majority of people simply want to feel heard. So listen to them. When people speak to you in person, make eye contact and even turn your body towards them. This shows them that they have your attention and that you value what they have to say.
Then, late, when you have something important to say, they will be more likely to reciprocate.
This is true no matter where you are — in a meeting at the office, on Zoom, and even on social media.
Let’s discuss a little how you do this on social media. First, before you share your opinion in a discussion, look back through other people’s comments, perhaps even liking their comment. Familiarize yourself with all sides of the discussion. Then, as you add your opinion or point of view to the mix, you can do so with the full picture in mind, perhaps even referring to other people’s comments as you do so.
3. Watch Your Body Language and Tone
In this age of social media and email, it can be challenging to master the art of personal interaction — especially when it comes to body language and tone.
But science shows that body language and tone can have a major impact on how people perceive us, including our authority.
For example, if you slouch and look to the ground, people will most likely see you as subordinate — aka, less authoritative. Instead, stand up straight, with your shoulders back, and make eye contact with those around you. These small changes can make a world of difference and give you a more authoritative air.
Another body language faux pas to avoid is crossing your arms as you speak to someone. This can send the message that you are closed off and even argumentative. Instead, leave your arms down by your side and your toes pointed toward the person. These small gestures will show that you’re more open and attentitive.
When it comes to tone, low tones show more authority. So, when talking at meetings or other similar scenarios, try to keep your tone low and calm.
4. Share Your Expertise
You’ve been in your industry for a number of years — no doubt you have expertise that other people want to learn from. So share that expertise; it’s a great way to establish and grow your reputation.
How do you do this?
There are several ways.
First, you could create a webinar or participate as a speaker on someone else’s webinar. Pick a subject with which you are fully familiar and love to talk about. . This is great because even when you’re done, you will have video snippets of the webinar you can share on your website or on social media.
Another option is to offer your expert comments to others in the industry. This could be as a quote on a blog or as a guest on a podcast. Once you’re an established expert, you will most likely get invitations for these opportunities.
You might even look for conversations happening on social media, such as within industry groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. Follow these groups and seek opportunities where you can add meaningfully to the discussion or even share your valuable perspective on an issue.
5. Quote Other Experts
Every industry has its influencers — and those influencers bring with them their own loyal audience.
A great way to get your name out there and start boosting your individual brand is to quote one of these influencers. It could be a short, meaningful quote in a blog post, a roundup of several experts’ opinions on a subject, or even a full-length interview with one specific expert.
All of these tactics help to associate your name with an expert. Someone might eyeball your content just to read what that expert has to say, but stay to read your thoughts and opinions.
To maximize the benefit of this strategy, tag the influencer or influencers on social media so their followers will see it and click through to read the piece.
6. Network with Other Influencers
As the adage goes, you are who you surround yourself with. If you want authority, connect with those who already have it.
And this is where networking comes into play.
Look for opportunities to connect with influential people in your industry. This could be on social media, at industry events, or even with an introductory email.
But you want to do more than just follow them. You want to build a lasting relationship.
To do this, identify which influencers would be a good fit. Watch their videos, follow on them on social media, and get a feel for their personality and interests. If you find someone with whom you have things in common, seek ways that you can build a rapport with them.
How do you do this? Identify ways that you can be helpful to them. Like and comment on their posts. Reach out if you have something valuable to offer, such as a collaboration opportunity. Share how much you enjoyed their article or book. And, most of all, be genuine. Being yourself is the best way to make connections.
7. Make Yourself Available as a Source
One sure-fire way to boost your authority is for your name to appear in print with a relevant, expert quote.
This is easier than you might think. Journalists, especially those on industry-specific beats, are constantly on the lookout for quotable sources. And if you make yourself available for it, you could very well find yourself quoted in a relevant publication.
Sign up for HARO — it stands for Help a Report Out and it is a site that connects sources like you with reporters and journalists who need you. Simply fill out the relevant information and HARO will send you regular emails about journalists who are looking for an expert in your industry. Then you can take it from there by sending a pitch.
Also, find out who is covering your industry’s beat at local publications or even at smaller, online media outlets. When you have interesting news or insights to share, contact them. But remember these are busy professionals who need to turn stories around quickly, so include all relevant information so that they can take it and run with it, while also giving you a quote or reference that will boost your authority.
8. Speak at Industry Events
Speaking at relevant events and conferences — even virtual ones — is a major feather in your personal branding cap. Not only will your target audience be there, but it’s also likely other influencers and media outlets will attend.
But, admittedly, it’s not the easiest tactic. For most of us, the idea of getting up in front of a crowd of people is scary. But I promise, it does get easier the more times you do this, and it scores points for individual branding.
To get started, look at footage from past conferences and events. Note what topics are the most popular and think about how you could adapt one of your subjects to fit.
Long before the event takes place, connect with those associated with the event, particularly the hosts. This will give you some name recognition as they go through the list of potential speaker applications. Sometimes it really does come down to who you know, so leverage any connection you can.
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Personal Branding
I’ve shared what personal branding is, why it’s so important, and how you can start building your own brand today.
Personal or self branding is a strategy that will advance your career, no matter your age, industry or experience. And for well-established professionals 50+, it’s a powerful way to have a thriving career or venture into new areas. I know whereof I speak having started a new career myself on the far side of 50.
But you need to take that first step. Start implementing these strategies and building your personal or individual brand. If you’ve already begun building your brand, let me know in the comments below which strategies have helped you the most.