ELEVATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

I have noticed that a lot of Nigerians have joined the personal brand bandwagon. I’d like to think that in my own small way, I have helped in amplifying the need for everyone to have a personal brand. For me it’s a personal crusade to ensure that after a stellar career you do not go into oblivion. You are known for something and your name and your belief can stand for you without the big brand you worked for being your identity.

My observation is that many in very serious and senior positions have already gone into oblivion, even the big office they currently hold has not been able to ensure that they are known for themselves. The other day, I asked a group of people to identify the CEOs of some of Nigeria’s biggest organisations they could not. But, when I asked them to identify Lamido who had worked in one of the banks in Nigeria, they could link him to the bank, then the CBN and now his role as Emir. The two previous positions he held many years ago. He is one person, who has a strong personal brand. His positions do not overwhelm him, he is an asset to the positions, which is where we should all aim to be.

According to the Entrepreneur, “whether you’re the founder of a startup or simply trying to take the next step in your own career or the CEO of a big organisation, few things are more important than a strong personal brand. But, what I see in Nigeria, is that many people are going about it the wrong way and are actually destroying their brands instead of developing it. The Entrepreneur and I indicate below how we may be destroying our brands:

You don’t have any clear-cut purpose.

Why do you want to build your personal brand? It’s an essential question to consider as you define your voice and goals. Far too many people start trying to build their personal brand with the vague goal of wanting to “become an influencer.” All too often, this results in a messy situation where you try to be all things to all people.

Instead, take the time to determine what your goals are. Do you want to share knowledge from your own experiences so others view you as an expert? Do you want to demonstrate your worth to potential employers? Are you trying to increase publicity for your startup?

Understanding the “why” will ensure you keep your messaging and actions on-track.

You routinely engage in shameless self-promotion.

Building a personal brand will obviously require a fair amount of self-promotion. But, if you’re an endless self-promoter (especially online), you’ll have a hard time gaining much of an audience. Too much self-promotion, and you’ll be just another bland voice lost in the advertising mix.

Some experts recommend that you only use 10 percent of your posts (or conversations) to self-promote. With the rest of your time, highlight interesting facts or industry news through social media and blogging, while still sharing your perspective.

You blend in with the masses.

You’re super enthusiastic about motivational speaking and taking pictures like groupies? You want to be seen to have attended every event and taken pictures with everybody, without sharing the nuggets or lessons learnt and the takeaway from the event that will benefit your readers.

You neglect traditional channels.

These days, most influencers are able to accrue a large following through blogging and social media. It can be tempting to think you’re following in their footsteps when you do these same activities. But, old-fashioned, face-to-face interactions still provide a lot of value — and if you ignore these, you will miss out on valuable opportunities to build your personal brand.

Networking events and conferences are a great way to build new relationships, including those that could help you further your career goals. Even volunteering for a local public speaking event can give you the opportunity to demonstrate what makes you unique. If your relationships exist entirely online, you won’t make nearly as strong of a lasting impression.

You don’t separate yourself from your business.

Startup founders often put so much focus on building their brand’s influence that they fail to fully distinguish their personal brand. You and your company are not the same entity — don’t mistake building your startup for personal branding. If you leave the company behind, those branding efforts won’t carry over to your next endeavor.

Experts say, “It’s very hard to build your personal brand if you are constantly tied to your company’s marketing. Blogging on your company website or being the voice of your company’s social media profiles can be good for your business, but if you are serious about building a brand built around you, then you need to take steps to separate your business and personal brand. So many people in Nigeria do this. I see them constantly promoting their company’s materials and events, even though they are sometimes the subject of these promotions, however, the distinction is still not enough. They need to be completely separate and distinct.

You over-promise and under-deliver.

This can easily occur with your personal brand if you’re not careful. While you may not be promising your followers a new product, they still have certain expectations from you as you build your online influence.

For example, you might tell your followers that you’ll have a new blog post for them every week. But, what happens when you miss a week? Two? As you fail to live up to your promises, you’ll lose the trust of your target audience. As a result, you’ll lose followers and influence, perhaps permanently undermining your personal brand.

You have poor social media habits.

These days, social media is a key part of building your personal brand.

This is especially true of those hoping to become thought leaders in their niche. But, if you’ve spent any time on the internet, you know just how easy it can be to get sidetracked in a controversial debate. It’s better to stay away from these touchy subjects.

If you are entering a joint venture five years from now, for example, and someone drags up your Twitter posts from this week, will there be a negative impact on your brand? If you ran for office 10 years from now, would your social activity be an issue?”

You are inconsistent.

Consistency is essential when developing a marketing strategy for a company —you should be just as consistent when developing your personal brand? Without consistent messaging and actions, you lose a sense of identity. Worse yet, you can easily lose credibility and trust.

Just like you would create and circulate a brand guide to ensure consistent brand messaging, so too should you focus on maintaining an identity in your voice, actions and unique value propositions. Doing so will prove your professionalism and authenticity and help you earn the trust of others.

Commit to building the right brand.

As you learn to recognize these bad habits and take steps to correct them, you’ll be able to build a strong personal brand that helps you achieve your personal and professional goals – strong relationships with customers and coworkers that ensure you’ll have lasting success in the years ahead.