On Friday, 9 February 2018, Sue York and I are presented a webinar on how to build a personal brand in the market research and insights space, click here to find out more.
In the run-up to this webinar I posted a series of tips (on LinkedIn) for people wanting to develop a brand. This post is the collection of posts and some news about a course that Sue York and I are running on this topic.
Hint 1 – Research Your Field
Before you start creating a brand it is important to understand what other people are doing. For this hint I am simply going to point you to a great post by a new face Ella Beaumont, showing how she systematically researched the MR scene and set about creating her plan.
Hint 2 – Be positive and supportive
Most people who have created a successful personal brand in the market research space are almost all positive and supportive people, people like Leonard Murphy and Kristin Luck.
In the F2F world, make a positive comment when something is worth praising. Invite people to join your project, your panel, your dining table. When people ask for your advice, whenever possible offer it. Positive/supportive people grow their networks faster than people that are less pleasant to deal with – pretty obvious really. In social media it is easy to be glib or negative.
Specific tips for being positive and social on social media include: Liking things, sharing information created by others, retweeting interesting or positive things, adding a supporting comment, acknowledging the contributions of others.
Kristin Luck (serial entrepreneur) highlights Eileen Campbell, saying ‘She’s such a great advocate for marketing insights and she’s also incredibly generous with her time.
Hint 3 – Authenticity
Your personal brand, in the context of work and your career, should not contain every facet of your personality, but every element of your personal brand should be authentically you.
Leading MR voice Annie Pettit advises, “Figure out who YOU are. Don’t try to copy what other people are doing or how they are doing it or try to be everything to everyone.”
You won’t necessarily be able to define your brand immediately; it is something that develops over time, just as your ‘voice’ develops over time (more about voice in the next tip). Remember if you want to be seen as authentic only ‘like’ things you like and only ‘retweet’ or ‘share’ links you have read and endorse.
Hint 4 – Finding Your Voice
To build your brand you should write things, e.g. social media comments, replies & posts. To do this efficiently & effectively you should establish your ‘voice’. As we said in Tip 3, authenticity is essential, so your voice should be the real you. Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming advises “Be yourself. That is a gazillion times harder than it sounds. In the digital age, people will access your brand via your digital content and while you’re shrouded behind the internet, it can be easy to start sounding like how you ‘think’ you should sound. Over time, not being yourself will become exhausting.”
As you start to write, look at how your contributions are received. If they are misinterpreted, tweak your style. If you find it hard to write, try tweaking your style.
It might take 6 months to find your voice, but once you find it – be consistent (except when there is a benefit in breaking your mould.)
Hint 5 – Complement your employment
Whether you own your own business or you are a new employee, your personal brand needs to complement your employment. Tom de Ruyck of Insites Consulting has a very strong personal brand and he warns “If you work at a company, make sure your personal brand is linked to your company’s brand. Make sure your personal brand never becomes bigger than your company’s brand. Why? It will get you into internal trouble at your company (in different ways ☺) or you will not be able to convert your personal brand into company successes and wins.”
Of course, this tip highlights the tension between the hints: complement your employment, find your personal voice and be authentic. There will be ways to do this, but it may take effort.
Hint 6 – Consistency
When building a brand, learn from successful brands like Apple, Coke, and Toyota – utilise a consistent image/brand. Try to use a single name: at work, in Twitter, on LinkedIn, in blogs, etc. Avoid being Ray sometimes and Raymond sometimes, Sue here and Susan there. From time to time you might want to update your photo, but at any one time use the same image across your different activities.
However, always remember the advice from Ralph Waldo Emmerson “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. For example, if your employer insists on using an image you are not comfortable with, or a version of your name that you do not prefer – do not standardise on that version, standardise (wherever possible) on the brand identity (which is what your name and image create) that you choose.
Hint 7 – Twitter
Twitter is a great way to develop your personal brand, but remember it won’t happen overnight. Once you have set up your profile (ideally with your preferred image and name), start by understanding the rules of the game. Follow some good examples, and dip your toe in at first by liking and retweeting. But, only ‘Like’ things you like and only retweet things you have read and endorse.
Once you get into the swing of it, try replying to tweets and to writing your own tweets. A good way to start, in terms of your own tweets, are to tweet links to articles you find interesting. Don’t worry whether other people will find them interesting – if you think they are interesting, there will be other people who think the same.
Hint 8 – Using Twitter tools
There are several ways that you can make Twitter more effective and ways of making your use of it more efficient. Here are three of them.
Hashtags are used to identify that a tweet relates to a specific topic. For example, many tweets relating to market research include tag #MRX and/or #NewMR. So, monitor tweets that use these, and include them in your market research related tweets.
Following interesting people is a good way of learning from Twitter and these are the people you should be liking, retweeting and replying to. Some good accounts to start monitoring are: @ESOMAR, @SusanSweet, @keenasmustard, @GreenBook, @1Sue3, @TweetMRS, @LoveStats and @BettyAdamou.
So, I keep mentioning monitoring, the best way to do this via a tool such as TweetDeck. TweetDeck is free and it allows you to monitor a variety of hashtags and accounts, by setting up a column for each one – making the management of your Twitter activities less onerous.
Want to learn more about how to build a Personal Brand?
Sue York and I are running a six-week Boot Camp to help you get your personal brand up to speed. Click here to find out more.