Here’s the thing about personal brands:
You have one, whether or not you think you do. And if you don’t define it for yourself, then other people will.
From my own observation and experience, here are the four steps to creating a strong personal brand on social media—the kind that will help you make better connections with clients and prospects alike.
Showcase your interests and passions.
I’ve written before about the power of the F.O.R.D. Method.
F.O.R.D. stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. These topics are common to all people, and they’re a great way to get to know somebody.
Keep the F.O.R.D. Method in mind when you’re planning your social media posts. If you want people to get invested in your brand, you need to be willing to show them the things you really care about.
Think about your hobbies. Maybe you play an instrument, build model cars, or make soap in your spare time. There are other people out there who share those same interests, and they might be in need of your services.
By using hashtags, you can connect with other people who are into the same things as you. This may or may not lead to business in the short term, but it’s a great way to add some new people to your contact list.
Talk about your family. Not everyone will want to post pictures of their spouse or children, but even mentioning them helps to humanize you in a way that few other things can. For example, you might have two kids, and so does one of your followers. You’re getting married, and they were just involved in planning their sister’s wedding. This creates connection and builds rapport.
Also, be sure you share your personal and professional goals in a blog post or short video. This will get people to root for you and become invested in your success.
One of my biggest challenges on social media has been sharing more personal content. I’m just so focused on my business and offering value that I don’t always think about doing it.
I have to force myself to be more personal. But when I do post pictures of myself attending a Philadelphia Eagles game, of my wife, or of me playing guitar, those posts get the most engagement.
Authentically document your life.
Andy Dane Carter recently shared a golden nugget of wisdom with me: when you’re documenting your life, you need to tell people how you’re feeling.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent getting commercial loan documents. Don’t just take a selfie outside the office—talk about how you’re feeling, as well as how you got there. What did you do right, and what did you do wrong?
Use the opportunity to showcase your business while also reflecting on your experiences. That kind of openness is what will keep people coming back. They can learn something from your journey.
This step is really critical. You want to have the personal component, but you need to do it in such a way that gives value to the audience. Otherwise, you’re just posting for the sake of it.
Speaking of giving value…
Focus on your audience.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of businesses make is focusing too much on the sale. This is especially dangerous when you’re a service-based sales professional in a field like real estate or financial services.
You want to use social media to build trust and grow client relationships, but you have to tread a fine line when it comes to pitching products.
One of the things that I’ve found works well is to create content that is consumer-focused. Offer advice or solutions without asking for anything in return, and you’ll create good feelings around you and your business.
I have a product that I could push 24/7, but I don’t. Instead, I give valuable content based on my journey and my experiences.
There’s a time and a place for just about everything. Figure out exactly what to post, along with where and when, and you’ll see amazing results.
Let your guard down (and ignore the haters).
When it comes to social media, I’ve found that when you start to feel vulnerable, you’re still not nearly vulnerable enough.
To use two very different examples, there’s a reason why the Kardashians and Grant Cardone are so popular—it’s because they aren’t afraid to rock the boat.
The Kardashians aren’t for everybody. They get mocked by a ton of people. But they also have millions of devoted followers and continue to earn more and more money as social media influencers.
With Grant Cardone, the fact that he’s so unconventional in some areas makes me trust him more. I look to him specifically because he’s willing to say what he thinks.
I might not share some of my stronger opinions, because I don’t want to offend people. That actually makes it harder to trust me. People might wonder, “Is he just being nice?”
We all fall into this trap. We bite our tongues or we sugarcoat things.
People have a sixth sense for this kind of thing. They can tell we’re holding back, and they second guess us.
Total honesty is a really hard thing for many salespeople, because we want to be liked. But we can get that much further by being willing to take risks.
Taylor Swift is the master of this. As she said in one of her songs, “Haters gonna hate.”
Not everybody loves Taylor, but a whole lot of people do. The fact is, when you share your authentic self with your audience, you might alienate some people. But you’re also more likely to connect with the people you really want as clients.
Remember: a specialist always beats a generalist. Find your tribe, and figure out how you can provide them with value on a regular basis. When you do this, you might not go viral—but you’ll see your personal brand grow in a big way.
From there, it’s all about building relationships and leveraging them into more business.