A personal brand is one of the most powerful assets you can develop, from a marketing standpoint. A strong personal brand will serve as an outlet to elevate your startup to a new level of popularity, or give some extra credibility to any posts you publish for your company. On top of that, personal branding gives you more career opportunities and connections, which you can utilize in your personal life and future.
Once you have a recognizable reputation in your industry of choice, ongoing maintenance is a snap, but starting a personal brand from scratch is much harder. So how can you build initial momentum for a young personal brand, especially if you don’t have much experience with the process?
Early Strategies for Personal Branding
Try using these strategies to cultivate initial momentum for your personal brand:
- Start small. There’s no reason to fly out of the gates by flooding the market with content and attempts to connect. In fact, doing so may make people question your sincerity, and could undermine the potential of your campaign. Instead, reserve your efforts and start with a minimalistic plan. This will allow you time to gather more data on your target audience and industry, while spending less effort in this less-effective stage of your personal brand development.
- Focus on a niche audience. Next, you’ll want to choose a specific niche to focus your efforts on. Even the biggest brands in the world cater to a targeted audience, rather than a general one, and that laser focus has allowed them to create some of the most memorable and effective online marketing campaigns of our time. What you lose in total volume, you more than make up for in relevance—plus, you can always expand to cover a more general audience in the future.
- Commit to regular content production. If you want to build a regular audience and grow your reputation, you’ll need some consistent line of content development. At the very least, you’ll want a blog to call your own, and a new post every week (preferably more). Without a consistent posting schedule and consistently high quality, you’ll find it nearly impossible to gain any followers who stick.
- Cover your social bases, but specialize at first. Next, you’ll want to ensure you have some kind of presence on every major social media network; this will open you up to connect with the majority of the internet-connected world population. However, if you try to juggle ongoing posts on every platform, you’ll end up wasting countless hours of time and possibly targeting the wrong audience. Instead, start with one platform to specialize in (and make your choice based on your audience’s preferences). You’ll be able to expand in the near future.
- Network every chance you get. Don’t miss any opportunities to network, whether that’s in a social media conversation or an in-person professional networking event. Talk to strangers. Exchange business cards. Get people to follow you on your top social channels. The bigger your network is, the more influence your personal brand will gain, and there’s almost no risk in pursuing it.
- Work with an influencer. If you’re having difficulty getting those initial followers, consider working with a social influencer who already has access to tens of thousands of followers (or even more). Collaborating on a project, exchanging ideas, or otherwise working together could give you a shortcut to amass your first few hundred followers. Even one piece of shared content on the influencer’s profile could earn you enough views to start building your own audience. Just make sure you’re not asking for favors or handouts—it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Make your followers feel recognized. Finally, in your early days, you won’t have a big number of followers, but you can make up for that by improving your relationship with the followers you do have. Make them feel recognized and appreciated in any way that you can. It might be an occasional thank-you, ongoing conversations, or even exchanges of favors and advice. The more you make your followers feel heard, the more loyal they’ll be—and the stronger your reputation will grow.
Onward and Upward
You may be tempted to scale your personal branding efforts as quickly as possible in the same way you might approach a business’s marketing campaign. However, personal branding is all about your own reputation, and there’s an advantage to letting it grow at a natural pace. The faster you try to attract new people, the easier it will be to alienate your existing audiences.
Focus on keeping your network engaged while producing the best content you can; your growth will come naturally in time.
Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur, Social Media Week, CEOWORLD Magazine and the HuffingtonPost among others.