“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
In our previous post, we discussed the need to create a strategic plan, a guide to help you achieve your goal of becoming a successful coach. The first thing you need to add to that plan is building your personal brand.
Ok, now I know some of you are groaning on hearing that word. Brand. You’re probably thinking it means getting on social media or creating a logo or some such thing. That’s right and wrong.
You see, a brand is not something you go out and get. It’s not a bunch of activities like creating a Facebook page or tweeting things. Most importantly, you can’t buy or create a personal brand.
Because your brand already exists!
Your brand is what people think of you. It’s every single interaction you’ve had online and offline. It’s the thoughts people have about you, the opinions they form about you, and the feelings you leave them with. It’s how they perceive you and what they say about you when you’re not around.
Everything you say or do affects your brand. Say the wrong thing and it affects your brand negatively. Do the right thing and it affects your brand positively. And in a world where there’s so much misinformation online, it’s easy for you to be taken out of context or for someone to malign you.
And all this is happening whether you like it or not. So if you think the whole branding thing is a waste of time, think again. You can either ignore your brand and let others build it for you, or you can take control and manage it.
“If you can’t find your own center and love for yourself, nothing else works,” – Chris Brogan
Once someone forms an opinion of you, it’s hard to change it. If you walk into your first meeting with a client half an hour late, that client will always think you’re tardy.
So instead of trying to manage the effect, you need to manage the cause – you. You need to build your brand from inside out.
That means you need to figure out who you are. This is not some woo-woo shit and I’m not saying you should go to some ashram in India to find yourself. It’s all about just being very clear on what motivates you.
This consists of three things – your values, your passions, and your purpose. Together they form the core of who you are, and the core of your brand.
Your values define the things you hold most dear. Whenever you need to make an important decision, you consciously or subconsciously consider your values.
Values can be things like family, community, intelligence, honesty, and so on. When you’re clear on your values, you can start to work with clients who have the same values. List out your top 5 values in order of priority.
Passions are what you like doing in your free time. They are different from values in that they are activities you like doing. Your passions could be reading, writing, or horse-riding.
Passions add color to you. They make you interesting and unique, and this is important if you want to build a brand that stands out. List your top 5 passions.
Your purpose is what drives you. It’s the motivation for what you do, so understanding what it is will help you coach your clients better. For example, if your purpose is helping people achieve financial freedom, then you know what you need to focus on as a coach.
Now that you’ve defined yourself, which is what you want your brand to be, you need to check to see if it’s consistent with how others perceive you.
That means getting feedback. Create a list of people you’ve worked with or for, even those you had a difficult time with. Then, email them to find out how they perceive you. Ask what they think your values and passions are. Also ask them to list your key strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll need at least 20 responses to get a good idea of what people think of you. This is how your brand already comes across to them. If there’s any difference between what you listed down earlier and what people are saying, then you need to do some course correction.
“The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience,” – Lewis Howes
Having figured out who you are and what your purpose is, it should be easy for you to define a target market. This will help you specialize and differentiate yourself and your brand. It will also let you know where you should focus most of your efforts when it comes to managing your brand.
There are two types of people who make up your target audience. The first is the person who will become your client. Create a complete description, or persona, of this person. Get into their heads and understand what their life is like, what hobbies and passions they have, what pains and problems they face, and what solutions they are looking for.
The second type is the influencer. These are the people who influence your clients or potential clients. You also want to make sure these people have a positive impression of your brand, otherwise they might cause your clients to lose their trust in you. Go through the same exercise to describe these people.
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? The chances are that your date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferris
So now that you have an idea of what you want your brand to be, how your brand is already perceived, and who your target audience is, it’s time to get to work managing it.
As Tim Ferris says, people are going to research you online the moment they come in touch with you. If you’re out at a networking event to find clients, they’ll look you up before committing to getting coached.
Not only is it important to maintain a strong brand and leave a good impression in person, you also need to replicate that online. So yes, you do need a personal website and social media accounts. If you don’t have either of these, people will think you have something to hide, or that you’re a nobody who isn’t worth listening to.
Start by creating a website under your name. It’s really easy these days, and with platforms like Edloud, all it takes is a few clicks and you’ll have a live site in just minutes.
Next, create your social media accounts if you haven’t already. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is a must. LinkedIn is especially important for clients to see your professional activity and work history. With Facebook and Twitter, you can show them your passions and what makes you unique.
Finally, you need to show off your expertise. When people see your site or social accounts, they need to see that you know what you’re talking about. That you’ve been there and done that, and that you’re the right person to be coaching them. If you don’t come off as an expert, they won’t think you’re worth hiring.
Building your brand doesn’t happen in a few days or weeks. It’s something you need to do every day going forward. In your strategic plan, set aside time every day to work on your brand and manage it. In everything you do or say, ensure that it aligns with your brand.
Stay tuned for the next step in our coaching success formula. If you need more information on finding yourself, defining a target market and managing your name, sign up for our free course now!