Personal branding through conversations

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In these social media times, we are allthinking about our personal brand in some way or another. In this post, Iwant toshare a philosophy on how to deal with personal branding in a structural way.

1. Determine a very clear DNA

Rather than knowing what to say to your target group, it is more important to define what your target group should say to others about you. Determine the type of conversations you wish to be a part of beforehand. Besides content, it also concerns personality. Barack Obama is a good example. During his campaign, he made it very clear thathe represented positivism and the will to change. Furthermore, he passed on the message in a way which appeals to people’s imagination. His message was always the same, powerful and simple.

I’m personallyconvinced that being positive and doing something good for someone else once in a while (without ulterior motives) is really important when building your brand. I don’t know what you think about this, but what mainly convinced me was this booklet: ‘The power of nice’, by Linda Kaplan.

2. Choose your media

I think a second step is the smart choice of the right channels. Evidently, Twitter is an ideal channel to spread your messages.But it is also possible to use other channels. Personally, I think that Flickr and SlideShare are very valuable places. The main advantage of SlideShare is that the content is available for a longer time span and you can pass your ideas on as stories.Flickrmakes it easyto share your ideas with others in a visual way. Someone who is doing this very actively is David Armano ( at Edelman. By visualising his ideas and making them shareable, others can easily use him as a reference.

3. Make sure you use smart activation

In order to build your brand, it is important that others refer to it or spread it. But even more important is the right activation ( The aim is to get the right people talking about you (preferably experts and opinion leaders). Furthermore, it is ideal if their motivation is to talk about your expertise. Finally, it is an art to ensure that those people share the correct message (from step 1) with their network. I believe the key to this type of activation is very strong content. I think the well-known example of Father Roderick shows that this is possible in any sector.

Furthermore, I think that there’s nothing wrong with reach. It is even recommended to impose clear success indicators for yourself. How many articles would you like to write, how many PowerPoint presentations would you like to make, how many people would you like to reach… By setting such objectives, you also create a stronger engagement towards your own brand.

4. Observe – Facilitate – Participate

Managing the conversation should be done at three different levels: observe, facilitate and join ( Observe people within the sector that you look up to, seek out opinion leaders. Try to help your own target group as much as possible in sharing your stories. You can take this quite far. An option is to co-create content together with your target audience. When I wanted to write an extra chapter for my book, I consulted the readers of marketingfacts. Brainstorming on a topic together made it much easier for me afterwards to work on the extra chapter. Afterwards the chapter was shared in advancewith the people who helped me: the marketingfacts community.

The last level is joining, which goes further than just sending your own stories into the world. It is very valuable to look for existing discussions in your sector and to participate in them. Give your opinion to sector colleagues’ vision. That is how you add to other people’s stories. That is how Gary Vaynerchuk became big. Wine Library TV‘s man did not only create content himself, he was also very active in discussions on wine forums.

5. Think long term

Nobody wakes up to 1 million followers, unless you’re Charlie Sheen of course. It takes time and effort. I am a convinced believer of Seth Godin‘s concept. When asked about the key to his success, he gives a clear answer. ‘In the past 20 years, I produced something every day which could add value to my target group. Either I present, or I blog, or I continue writing a book, but I will deliver something every day. By doing this for 20 years running, I find myself where I am now’, Seth Godin declares. The reality is that the majority amongst us do not succeed in doing so.

If you are serious about your personal brand, it is important to think long term. Make plans for yourself that are in line with these steps, and stick to the plan.

Below you can see theSlideShare version of this story, which contains extra examples. I’m looking forward to your feedback or other good tips and examples!

[slideshare id=7386411&doc=howconversationshelpyoutobuildastrongpersonalbrandslidesh-110325082121-phpapp02]