One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, 'How do I improve my personal brand?'. As more and more people continue to realize how critical a personal brand is to furthering their career and standing out as a leader in their niche, even those with the most established careers are still unsure of where to start. For 99% of those asking this question, there is an instant, easy solution - and it all revolves around discovering your audience.
The first step to improving your personal brand, is to ensure that you are:
a) Targeting the right audience
b) Sharing the right message with said audience.
The question you should be asking at this point in your journey, is who is your dream customer? And not just "Steve Jobs" or "Elon Musk" - what is their age range, their salary, what do they stand for, what are the problems they're facing in life? It's time to break it down.
When you've identified your dream customer, you can then start to break down into your secondary customers. Who else could you help? You can choose two or three more customers that you identify as being your 'target'.
When you've established this, it's time to look at what unites them across the board.
What are their dreams?
What are their downers if this is a warm audience?
What are their downers if this is a cold audience?
Once you've established who this customer is, you can start to create content, messaging, and communication based on Step 2, focusing on what your audience actually wants.
When studying human-centered design, I learnt that designing who you serve is going to make your life much, much easier. Once you understand the audience that you're trying to attract, it gives you clarity on the personal brand that you want to build. For instance, when myself and my team are working with clients, the lightbulb moment always comes when we start asking them, 'So, who do you want to attract to your brand? Who do you want to buy your products?'. The more that you can center yourself on who you truly serve, the more clarity you will have and the stronger products and assets you can build. This is the light switch flicking your brain from 'What do I want?' into 'What do they want?'. Instead of focusing on building your personal brand, you're focusing on the needs of your audience, and an instant by-product of this, is understanding how you can serve them best by building your personal brand.
This audience-centric method revolves around empathy. Empathy is not only absolutely crucial to building a personal brand, but it's also incredibly 'in style' right now. After years of following shiny, photoshopped influencers, social media has taken a U-turn towards authenticity. People want to follow those who they can relate to and understand - and they expect the same in return. The saturation of online content means there is so much choice for who you can follow right now, and people who talk too generally - or worse still, talk too much about themselves - will end up not connecting or engaging with anybody at all. Showing the empathy you have with your audience is vital if you want to build a personal brand. You are demonstrating that you want to support, serve and establish yourself as a leader who can inspire and educate this audience. Your audience is following you because they want to hear about you in the context of themselves. The more you can center your brand around an audience, and less around yourself, the better.