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5 Steps To Building A Strong Personal Brand

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Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a business or a career focused professional, building a strong personal brand is essential for earning respect in your field and achieving success.

Your personal brand is your reputation, it’s how others perceive you, it’s how you market yourself and deliver a unique promise of value. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”

If you look at some of the most successful people in the eye of the media today – from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Taylor Swift to Richardson Branson, they’ve all developed solid personal brands that are both authoritative and likeable. 

Here are 5 steps to build a strong personal brand:

1. Connect with influencers

Having your name associated with successful peers is a guaranteed way to raise your profile and give your personal brand a huge boost. Make a list of the biggest influencers in your industry and build strong relationships with them over time.

You can start off by simply commenting on their blog posts or social media updates, then as you build their trust you can offer to help with their new project or invite them to an industry event. Once your name Is frequently being mentioned amongst industry influencers, then you too will be perceived as an influencer.

 

2. Let your personality shine

People are drawn towards others who are interesting and fun to be around so avoid being dull in your professional life. Whether you’re speaking to a client on the phone or sending an email to a supplier, try to breathe some life into your interactions so that people remember you with a smile. Don’t be afraid to be different – it’s better to be a little different than to be the boring person that nobody remembers.

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg 

3. Get recommended

Few things strengthen your personal brand more than public praise from other people, especially if those praising you are well known. If you’re a business owner, you should be asking your most reputable clients to publicly recommend you on social media as well as your own site.

If you are career focused, then you should be asking your most senior colleagues and ex-colleagues to recommend you on LinkedIn to prove the value you have provided.

 

Branding
 

4. Create valuable content

In order to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, it’s essential that you demonstrate your expertise through providing useful informative content on the web. Whether you create detailed how-to-videos or write data driven industry reports, make sure you create something that will help your clients and boost your reputation at the same time.

Once you provide value to somebody upfront without asking for anything in return, you build trust and make it easier for them to begin a working relationship with you.

 

5. Take on public speaking engagements

Public speaking is a proven tool for boosting your reputation and positioning yourself as an authority on a particular subject. Public speaking is a difficult skill to master so start with small groups of colleagues or clients before pitching yourself to speak at conferences and events.

Only speak about the subjects you are most knowledgeable and passionate about to ensure you can speak confidently and deliver engaging sessions.

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you sent but by what the listener receives.” – Lilly Walters

If you’re looking to achieve success via a strong personal brand, then keep working hard to prove yourself as an expert in your field and build trust in your market.

What steps can you take to create your own successful personal brand? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Andrew Fennell is the founder and Director of London based CV writing and career development firm StandOut CV. Andrew is also a regular contributor to the Guardian Careers sections and speaks about career development at Companies and Universities across the UK.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Rebecca Matias

    May 9, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Awesome tips, Andrew!All of the steps you have mentioned are very helpful for businesses in building a strong brand. But for me, #4 is the most important thing in building a brand,it is the perfect means for creating a signature style that builds recognition and conveys your brand’s personality.Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  2. Ram

    May 1, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Very informative article with simple yet powerful steps to build one’s personal brand. Providing value to other through quality content is a very potent way of standing out from the crowd and making an impression.

  3. Ran Mendis

    Aug 3, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Cheers Tim, what a coincidence? I watched cool runnings couple of days ago n super inspired. Awesome work Tim you have just extracted the cream of it and my favorite point is ” being different is important ” I’m a big fan of yours and you inspired me to create content, now I’m doing dailly. Keep writing Tim. Respect n Regards. Ran Mendis

  4. folawewo Oludare

    Feb 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks Andrew. Personal lifestyle and business life are 2 aspects that needed to be mash together. Balancing this could prove a task as maximum concentration is needed,even sometimes,reflective meditation is require to bring out the best of trait. But altogether,I really find this article very helpful as it gave the stepping blocks of ideas on which to climb higher in achieving a goal. So insightful. I will make use of it. Thanks.

  5. Nihar Pradhan

    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Wonderfully written Andrew…Brand is such a vital component of building a successful venture, many times as innovator or creator of new ideas we overlook the brand per se and get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of the product and its functioning, these all matters but it is brand that counts in the big picture. The identity and the trust that comes with brand is what sets the product or service apart in the market…

    Yes, it so much about creating valuable content and being able to articulate and speak out loud in the gathering and being able to garner the confidence that makes a huge difference…

  6. Joseph Themba

    Jan 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Great one Andrew! Many thanks

  7. jay

    Jan 6, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Nice!

  8. Ngonidzashe

    Jan 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I like this. This is a great article.

  9. Nissar

    Jan 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Great post Andrew. Thanks for writing this.

  10. Owen Hone

    Dec 31, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Great post Andrew

  11. Lawrence Berry

    Dec 30, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Marketing and branding is very important in building s successful business and making money. Becoming a household name is one the toughest things to achieve but these steps can help you achieve just that. Connecting with influencers is important. Learn from them and find a way help them as they will offer you help as well. Successful people want others to be successful as well.

  12. Doreen Pendgracs

    Dec 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Terrific article. I’ve worked very hard over the past 6 years to build my brand. His hard it is!

    Congrats to Tim for joining Toastmasters. I’ve been a member for 15 years and have found it to be an invaluable organization.

  13. Stephen Osoko

    Dec 28, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    This was very insightful. I particularly have been using Step 1. There are so many benefits of engaging with influencers without a doubt! Great Post Once Again!

  14. Tim Denning

    Dec 27, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Andrew thank you for this post. While I already do some of these five points, there are still afew that I don’t do and your article is a good reminder for me to make it my new years resolution. One that I currently don;t do is public speaking although i have signed up to Toastmasters to build some skill. I have heard Lewis Howles speak of Toastmasters a few times so I figured it must be worth a try.

    I hope to read more of your work and thanks again!!!

    • Andrew Fennell

      Dec 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Tim – Yes it can be hard to balance all points but looks like you’re doing a good job!

  15. addicted 2 The Grind

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Great Post #1 is the most important in my opinion. If you produce great content it will be seen eventually but if you connect with influencers in your space that can speed up the process.

    You can’t be scared or to cocky to interact with other thought leaders in your space.

  16. Ajasa

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Many thanks sir this article is very helpful sir

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5 Ways to Deal With Startup Uncertainty

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how to deal with uncertainty in your startup
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Starting your own company may sound like a dream come true in your mind, on social media, and to all the people looking on in envy from their office jobs. But when the fantasy fades, you realize how much uncertainty you now have in your life. The inherent risk in any startup is that you are trading the certainty of a normal job for real growth and freedom. What people get from office jobs is much more than a steady pay check and free coffee. It’s a sense of certainty that their lives, work, and finances are in order.

You will have to give up certainty to fully take on the risks of this lifestyle. It will be roller-coaster and something you need to prepare for. Logically, it’s easy to know that. But emotionally, there are so many ups and downs in an entrepreneur’s life. Stress, frustration, and decreased motivation are inevitable.

Here are 5 ways you can deal with startup uncertainty:

1. Stick to a morning routine

There’s many ways to start a morning routine. What’s important is to have a stable, predictable routine. This centers your mind and gives you some order to your day. You manage your business and you can do whatever you want. No boss and no one telling you what to do, it can be mix of productive to outright messy days. By giving yourself some stability, you start the day off in a predictable way so that you can jump into work each day.

It’s as easy as taking your dog to the park, having a cup of coffee, and listening to a motivating audiobook for 20 minutes. You may need meditation to get into the state. Whatever it is that you need to get from a sleepy/hungover mindset to that of taking on the day.

“If you win the morning, you win the day.” – Tim Ferriss

2. Make time for high performance books

Speaking of audiobooks, everyone – especially entrepreneurs, need motivation. Get a few motivating books from other business leaders. This will do incredible things for your mindset and the way you think. Most of them help by keeping you excited for bigger goals. Look for classics from Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins. Or the newer motivational personalities like David Goggins and Rachel Hollis. You’ll be surprised at how much hearing someone’s hardships on their journey will help you on your own.

3. Schedule your week

It’s easy to get a packed calendar working an office job. Everyone else in the company seems to be demanding your time for one meeting or another. Pointless meetings are even the reason some people leave their jobs in the first place. The issue with having your own startup is that while the pointless meetings are gone, so too is any semblance of structure from a filled up calendar.

Spend one evening and fill the upcoming week as much as possible. I recommend Sunday afternoons to think about your goals. Plan big tasks every day throughout the week. That way you always know what you should be working on and stay on track.

4. Hit the gym

This one is actually part of my morning routine and it’s benefits can’t be overstated. Exercise helps fight off anxiety and stress. There’s no better way to funnel your business frustrations more than into the weights. By the time you’re done, your body and mind will be much more relaxed. A necessity when it comes to the tension of being an entrepreneur. Whether that’s staring at your laptop or making sales calls.

“Daily exercise is an insurance policy for future illness.” – Robin Sharma

5. Be grateful

Gratitude was one of the feel good things that I always used to skip whenever it was mentioned. I wanted cold, calculated strategy or tools I could use to build a business as fast as possible. Many brilliant minds in not only self help but also in business, speak about the need for gratitude.

Here’s why it helps me when the business is going through growing pains or everything seems like it is going wrong. I get filled with doubt and uncertainty and gratitude is the quickest way to relief.

Yes, starting your own business is a massive effort, but there is always some job out there. You decided to launch something of your own because you don’t want a baseline existence. You want to grow and build with the freedom someone can only give themselves.

That alone is enough to be grateful. But if you need more, how about that most people are too scared to do what you’re doing. Or that you are taking the time to believe in yourself and live a life of taking chances.

That speaks to your character and self-worth. Much more than the life of quiet misery so many people in the world allow to decide their entire lifestyle. Be grateful you have this opportunity and make the most of it.

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The Best Side Hustle You Can Start Today In Just 15 Minutes

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The best side hustle you can start in 15 minutes is blogging.

It can be writing, making videos or speaking about topics you love through a regular podcast show. All of these acts are a form of blogging.


15 minutes is not long

That’s why blogging is a good choice.

A video that’s less than 15 minutes is easy to make and will work well.

A short piece of writing can be written in under 15 minutes.

A 10-minute audio conversation on one single question will give people heaps of value and detail in one particular area.

Starting is not where the power lies. Doing this side hustle every single day is how you get what you’re really looking for.


Many successful people are doing this

Whether it’s Hollywood actors like Will Smith or writers like Tim Ferriss or musicians like Ariana Grande — everyone is doing it.

Why is everyone doing the side hustle of blogging?

  1. It’s how we connect with each other.
  2. It actually works.
  3. It’s a way to create an audience which can become a business.

I didn’t invent this side hustle

I just tried it for myself and saw how powerful it was.

It got me:

  • New clients for my 9–5
  • A new 4 day a week day job
  • Clients to coach via Skype
  • Features in major publications like CNBC
  • The opportunity to meet amazing human beings like LinkedIn influencer Michael Chapman

The side hustle of blogging gave me meaning for my life

Before this side hustle, I was washed up, uninspired, negative and pissed off with the world.

Spending 15 minutes to start the habit of blogging got me out of my head. It forced me to search all over the internet and find things to talk about. Pretty soon I was spending 2+ hours a night researching personal development and figuring out what I wanted to blog about.

Blogging led me to want to help the homeless, share my very private battle with mental illness, come to grips with my startup failures and share the lessons, and even overcome my fear of public speaking in the process.

Now I have a meaning for my life thanks to the side hustle of blogging. I reckon it can do the same to help you grow and get you to the next level. You can blog about whatever you want and then watch it grow from there.


Why is blogging the best side hustle?

It’s how you be creative.
It’s how you express yourself.
It’s how you grow.
It’s how you attract the right people into your life.

There are many side hustles you could choose. Blogging is one of many. In my opinion and based on my experience, it’s the best. There are so many avenues you can go down.

Attracting what you want in your life has a lot to do with what you’re putting out into the world”

Blogging is a fantastic way to put out more of what’s important to you, into the world. Like a magnet, blogging attracts more of what you put out into your life.


Oh and don’t forget the income

Investing, giving back and making an income are all possible through blogging too. Part of my monthly income comes from blogging.

This allows me to back causes that help those in need, invest in stocks that provide me with a passive income and have money to spend on the occasional treat such as dinner dates and drinks with my co-workers.

That money comes from:

  1. Ghostwriting for other people
  2. Posting on Medium.com
  3. Coaching clients via Skype
  4. Consulting to businesses on how they can create content that aligns with their brand

There aren’t too many side hustles that can do that for you

Seriously, blogging is a game-changer. It’s a habit you can start in 15 minutes and repeat daily without much effort. Choose your poison — writing, video or audio — and then get started.

Do it for around twelve months and then send me an email with what you experience. I already know, having challenged lots of people already to start this side hustle, that it will work. It just requires patience and the habit of doing it daily.

15 minutes to start today.

And then 15 minutes every day for the rest of your life.

Try it.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

You Are The Problem With Your Business

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A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.

I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.

Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.

Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?

Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.

The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.


Your company is a reflection of you.

It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.

One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.

The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.

In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.

The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.

The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.


Take responsibility and it will change.

When you own the business, everything is your fault.

You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.

The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.

Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.

Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.


Change is a must.

Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.

Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”

You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.

Change you.

Not the business.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up

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startup success
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You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.

How to Evaluate Success

As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.

But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson

The Numbers

When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?

The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.

So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.

1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems

The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.

This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.

In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.

2. Impact

Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).

In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.

“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins

3. Freedom

For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.

The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.

Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.

4. Time for Friends and Family

As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.

Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.

A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.

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