If you’re a CEO, a business leader or entrepreneur, it’s likely that you’re interested in building a personal brand. You’re in a good position to talk publicly about your experiences, share your knowledge, and even voice your opinions. This is the activity that’s often referred to as ‘thought leadership’.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader – or personal brand PR – is time-consuming, but if it’s done well, it can also bring many benefits on a personal and professional level. Take the time to create a strong personal brand and you will become a source of trusted information for your customers and your stakeholders,” says AMBITIOUS Director, Sarah Woodhouse.

We’re sharing our insight in this blog, expanding on the benefits of building a personal brand.

The benefits of building a personal brand

  • Improving your network: whether you are speaking at an event, writing a blog or posting a tweet, you will be putting yourself ‘out there’ in front of new people who are interested in your specialist subject and who will want to connect with you and learn from you.
  • A higher profile: this activity will help you to forge a public profile in your field and to become known for what you do
  • Raising awareness for your business: not only will you gain a stronger profile, so will the company you work for
  • Learning new skills: from public speaking to blogging, there are many platforms for thought leadership, each requiring you to master a new skill to do it well
  • Attracting more clients and customers: it follows that if you – and your business – have a higher profile and you’re seen as experts then you’re likely to attract new clients and even see sales increase
  • Better communication: a strong, well-managed, personal brand can help business leaders better communicate with all key audiences including investors, employees, and high value customers, stakeholder communities, and the media

How to build a personal brand

If you’ve ever done any branding work for your business, you will understand how important it is to nail your brand vision, mission, message, and personality. The same applies when you’re building your personal brand. Think through the following questions carefully to map out your personal manifesto…

  • What do you want to be known for? Why should people listen to you on these subjects?
  • What is your purpose?
  • Who is your target audience, who do you want to influence and what can you offer them?
  • What is your key message? What is the one thing you want to tell people and why?
  • How do you want to be perceived? For example, do you want people to think you are helpful and approachable, dynamic and energetic, or polished and highly qualified? Keep it authentic and think about the person you truly are.

Body language and personal brand 

Your body language says more about you than you may think. According to Rita Clifton one of the leading experts on personal branding, your body language is more important in conveying your message, than your spoken words. 

Clifton is a firm believer in the 7-38-55 model of personal communication, which was first established by Iranian psychologist Albert Mehrabian.  It outlines that 55% of communication is received through body language, 38% through voice and tone, and only 7% through actual spoken words.  

Mehrabian claimed, and Clifton agrees, that the non-verbal elements of communication are more important for conveying a message. If words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language.  

Body language and tone are powerful tools, and it makes perfect sense that they should be factored into a personal brand strategy. 

It’s easy to reference a psychologist’s model of communication, but what does implementing this model look like in real life?  

Media training for personal brand   

Media training is a crucial skill and particularly in the world of work, as heads of industry have more of the media spotlight thrust upon them. 

Media training isn’t about spin and deflection. It is about tooling up an individual to be their most confident, authentic and informative self when it matters most. Good media training yields very subtle yet evident results. Bad training, or a lack of training, produces quite the opposite.  

Media training, as a personal branding tool, can be hugely valuable to any individual, and just because it’s called media training doesn’t mean it’s exclusively relevant to ‘media opportunities.’ 

Media training buttons up over Mehrabian’s three principles. It is, at its essence, the study and practice and implementation of positive body language, tone, voice and spoken word. Of course, it helps in those key media moments, but with a grasp of its principles an individual can employ its techniques in many professional settings.  

Case study: positioning a city CEO as a thought leader

At AMBITIOUS, we work with many business leaders to help them build their personal brand. We recognise that this activity can be time-consuming, and even overwhelming, for senior professionals in busy roles. This is where our branding and content creation expertise can help clients build their brand more efficiently.

We are currently working with a high-profile City CEO who had been slowly building their personal brand online using LinkedIn. After starting a new role, they were struggling to find time to maintain what they had begun.

At the beginning of the relationship, we worked quickly to build internal connections in order to allow us to stay on the pulse of what’s happening within the organisation. We also keep track of what the client is involved in externally at conferences and events so that their LinkedIn reflects the dynamism and energy of their working life.

We plan out content to ensure a good balance of advice-led tips, industry trends, employer brand and subjects that appeal to the high net worth target audience.

Reach, engagement and shares are increasing month on month. The client is securing more connections and the conversations happening around the articles online are generating business profiles and opportunities.

How can a PR agency help with personal brand PR?

Enlisting a PR agency will not only give you the confidence to put yourself in the public eye, they will also be able to offer you many skills and tools, enabling you to work on a more strategic level. Here are some ways that an agency may help you develop your personal brand:

  • Analysing online and offline personal reputation
  • Reviewing appropriate media and social media channels
  • Developing personal communications plan for key channels on relevant industry issues
  • Writing by-lined articles and other thought leadership material
  • Speaker engagements and participation in key networks
  • Entering relevant industry leader awards
  • Securing key business introductions
  • Presentations and speech writing

Do you take time to position yourself as a thought leader? Which activity do you find most effective, and what are the main benefits of building your own brand? Tell us in the comments below or connect with us on Twitter @Ambitiouspr.

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