I decided to write this post because I find that there’s a (surprising) lack of useful resources about creating a strong personal brand online.
A quick search reveals familiar, regurgitated advice:
- you should start following people on Twitter
- start re-tweeting things
- upload a nice profile photo to your LinkedIn profile
- start a WordPress blog
- start posting unique content
And so on.
All of those are useful tactics and methods. However, they’re all missing one crucial point, which renders them utterly obsolete.
The implied message in all of social media / personal branding advice you see going around is that social media / Web 2.0 platforms are your access points to tremendous power and influence.
More specifically, the message is that you must conquer these platforms and unlock their secrets. And once you do, the hordes of followers will, err .. follow.
Is Soapbox Powerful?
Social media is special in a sense that its infinitely leverageable.
However, it’s also something quite ordinary in a sense that it’s a modern day iteration of the soapbox, the megaphone and the amphitheatre.
All of those, dare I say – social media tools – have one thing in common: they’re designed to deliver a message to the people.
Which brings me to my point. When someone asks, “how do I build my personal brand?”, shouldn’t the answer begin with the discussion of the message, rather than the tools?
Discover Your Voice.
Social media has become a place which everyone approaches with the mindset of “if I blast all this content/advice out there, hopefully I’ll get some likes”.
You don’t want to be that guy/gal. Blasting content without a clear answer to “why am I doing it?” is a waste of your time. And the answer to that question needs to go deeper than “I want more followers, so that I can make more money.”
A personal branding strategy must begin with a frank discussion about you and a clear answer to questions like:
- What do you stand for?
- What cause do you uphold?
- What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
- What do you CARE about?
- What do you want the engraving on your tombstone to say?
They are all different ways of asking this question – what’s your purpose?
Purpose is not a tactic or a strategy; it’s not just something to dress up your “about me” page with. It’s at the core of what you believe; what you desire. It sets the overarching, definitive context for all your career-related choices (which you then broadcast via your online assets and your resume).
The best way I know to examine your purpose is through this simple question:
If you didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, what would you do?
Sure you might take a day off or two, go spend some money on some pleasures. But let’s say you NEVER had to go to work ever again. Your finances are taken care of – for life.
What would you do with yourself after a month? Two months?
What would the rest of your life be about?