Personal branding is more important than ever in the modern digital age - with all the opportunities and tools on offer, you should be building your personal brand.
A strong personal brand can have a tremendous impact on both your individual success and that of your company - having an exceptional personal brand is also a common trait among our favorite and most successful billionaires.
That's what many experts, including myself, have been repeating for the last few years - so if so many smart people believe a personal brand is important, a personal brand must be pretty important. Right?
To help with this, here are a few less common tips to consider when building your personal brand.
1. Do Your Research First
Commit to a niche - but choose one you can actually win.
What do you want to be known for? What sets you apart from other established influencers in the same space (e.g., maybe they're all super smart but really boring)? How are you going to be memorable?
All the big names in your industry started out by dominating a small space. What can you master that they can't? What's your superpower?
Then, after you become the expert of your niche, you can continue to grow by entering an adjacent space.
2. Weave Your Brand into Everything You Do
Is personal branding as easy as putting on distinctive clothing or having a certain hairstyle? If only.
Personal branding goes far beyond wearing purple Converse shoes or dying your hair pink - what you should do is weave your personal brand into everything you do.
For example, brand the content you're creating, whether that be great data (charts, research, infographics, visualizations, etc.), amazing photos, memes, or cool diagrams or workflows.
Also, think about the tone and style of your content. You need to be intentional in how you develop your personal brand. Simply blogging or showing up on social media doesn't cut it.
A couple of years ago, when I was thinking about my own content tone and style, I did an exercise which helped me realize that a lot of the content being produced in my industry wasn't backed up by much data analysis and was boring, obvious, equivocal, or not-actionable. I thought that by injecting data science, a Millennial sense of humor, and non-obvious and unambiguous tips, that people could better connect with my content, that I could stand out online and as a conference speaker.
Which leads to my next point...
3. Go Big at Industry Conferences or Stay Home
People greatly overvalue the benefits of speaking at conferences. Generally, the people who attend large industry conference will only remember the top 2% to 5% of sessions. The rest will be forgotten.
You need to be great. If you aren't reasonably confident that you'll be among the top presentations, it may be better to not bother.
Put together great presentations and improve your presentation skills through webinars or at local free events, where expectations are much lower. Become great. Learn by watching the best speakers in your industry, and by recording and watching your own sessions.
My friend and mentor Rand Fishkin has some great tips on how to do great presentations.
4. Invest in Yourself
Personal branding isn't free, but it's smart to invest in your own career.
That means you're going to have to pay for stuff. Yes, with your own money.
- Hiring an editor to proofread your content
- Hiring a speaking coach
- Buying a book that will help you learn a new skill
- Hiring graphic design help
5. Don't Do Personal Branding
People spend way too much time building a personal brand and not enough time thinking about whether it's really necessary in the first place. Here's one foolproof way to tell - ask yourself: "What have I done (or what am I doing) in my career that is actually remarkable?"
Plenty of "internet famous" people have come and gone, it's ridiculously easy for anybody to share opinions online. Hard work is required if you're serious about being successful.
Many uber-wealthy and successful people have built unique personal brands, but they've also done, created, or said remarkable things.
Would there be countless articles still being written every day about Steve Jobs (more than five years after his death) if he had never helped create our favorite Apple devices? Would anyone care about the outrageous things Donald Trump has to say if he hadn't been an inspirational businessman?
I spent the first 10 years of my career building my company, and only more recently got started with blogging and social media marketing. This approach has given me tons of interesting things to talk about - everything from marketing to entrepreneurship.
Most people are better off spending time doing something remarkable before building a personal brand - so don't build a personal brand if it isn't time. Do something remarkable first.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.