Karen Dietz
March 5, 2014

Be Remarkable with These Surefire Tips for Personal Branding

Several times this week the topic of personal branding has come up in my coaching groups, association meetings, and workshops. People were frustrated, mystified, and cranky about the whole process. Everyone knows it’s critical to do, yet there was also lots of confusion about how to get started or do it well.  So here I am with tips and advice to share!

Personal branding is the authentic voice you bring to your website, collateral materials, blog, curation reviews, and other content you create. One of the best ways to think about personal branding is to think of it as your personal narrative – the story about who you are and what you do that conveys your unique presence. That personal narrative is a combination of stories about your customers and about you.

Who needs a personal brand/narrative? Anyone in business and leadership. Think career moves, leading, executive presence, personal branding, and marketing your small business — they all require a personal brand/narrative. Sounds easy to create, right? Hah!

The Challenge

I will say – articulating your personal brand/personal narrative is hard. It’s hard to talk about yourself where it you don’t sound trite, arrogant, and like a stuffed shirt. So I am going to share with you some of my most favorite + helpful how-to articles on the topic that will help you release and share your authentic voice.

But before we get started, I am going to caution you against trying to come up with your personal branding all by yourself. The best results happen when you can share your drafts with others to get feedback. Or when you hire a copywriter to help you put it all together. I just did this for myself. I call Casey Demchak my ‘word guy’ and he’s fabulous. I’d written drafts of both new website language and a speaker’s 1-sheet. I thought they were great! Turns out not so much. Casey whipped them into shape and I’m thrilled.

So leverage your network of friends and professionals to help you craft your personal branding. And check out these favorite articles on personal branding that I’ve curated over the last 2.5 years. I’ve also included my reviews so you will know what to expect.

personal branding 2Discover Your Personal Narrative

If you are wondering what your personal narrative is (which BTW, is a collection of your stories that help generate your personal branding) and how to articulate it, then this is a handy article to read.

When you think of your personal narrative as an item on your to-do list to simply check off, then you will be continually frustrated at not being able to get it done.

If you approach articulating your personal narrative as an ongoing discovery process, then a treasure trove of insights and growth await you. That’s the position of this article, written by Dorie Clark, that I agree with 100%. I love what she says – personal branding an iterative process that takes time. And the rewards are immeasurable.

Don’t get caught up in getting it perfect right out of the starting gate. Do your best efforts now, and just know you will be upgrading your personal branding as time goes on.

There are suggestions in the article for how to get started. But then I ran across this 11 minute video in the next curated article that puts more meat on the bones. It’s called “The Three Most Important Questions.” Check it out.

Between the video and the article link below you will have plenty to keep you busy and some solid steps to take (and resources to read) for articulating your personal narrative..

How To Respond When Someone Asks “Tell me about yourself…”

When you are at a networking event or party and a person asks you “Tell me about yourself…” what do you say?

The focus of this article is about you as the superhero. And I love the comments people wrote at the end of the post — there are lots of terrific additional questions to ask and insights to gain.

A word of caution: spread the hero stuff around. In your story, how was a customer, family member, staff person, or vendor also the hero?  Truly, your branding stories are not only about you. So spread the wealth so your customers shine — it will make for a better story and keep you on the humble path.

Customers are Heroes, Not You

For a terrific article on making your customers the heroes of your stories, check out this post.

The article on ‘customers as heroes’ is a very short with a potent key message: no one really cares about you or your business. People care about themselves instead. LOL — I get excited about projects I’m doing and think my clients are interested in them too. Wrong! They go “Yeah, yeah, interesting. Now about the problem I’m trying to solve….” Makes me laugh.

Now it sounds like I’ve just contradicted myself to how I began this article: I advocate for personal branding/narrative and then now tell you it’s not about you. Well, it is kind of tricky. But ultimately when you are sharing your personal brand, focusing on your customers as heroes will go a lot farther than if you are just tooting your own horn.

So where the heck does that leave you? In any number of powerful roles. The author of the article, Brian Clark of Copyblogger, suggests as a business owner or leader, a better role might be that of the Sage — a likable expert. It’s a definite read.

Crafting a Dynamo About Me Page

When it comes to your About page, now it is finally all about you. I love the practical tips provided here, along with action steps to take. This post by Rachel McDonald takes the mystery out of writing your About Page. Not only is there great advice here, but she also shares examples of well-crafted pages. Yeah!

Rachel’s post helps make personal branding and About pages easier. OK — time to follow Rachel’s advice and do my own upgrade!

Why Personas Are Critical To This Discussion

When I said earlier that personal branding doesn’t happen in a vacuum I focused on making sure you received feedback from others to help you out. Yet another very important part of figuring out your personal brand is figuring out who your audience is. Who are you talking to when sharing your personal brand?

The more specific you can be about who your audience is, the entire process becomes easier. It’s hard to connect too commonwith others if your text and offerings are too generic with a ‘one size fits all’ flavor.

One of the best ways to determine whom your audience is to create buyer personas. Below are my favorite articles and tools to help you get this task done.

Storytelling and Personas in Content Marketing

This article contains excellent questions and how-to steps to determine which stories to tell to whom.

Creating marketing personas is big in marketing these days. I’ve done it and it is very helpful. Consider them another tool in your marketing toolkit. As the author points out, the stories you tell in your own authentic voice that are specifically tailored to your target audience can provide both the information and inspiration needed to bring in business.

Read this excellent article on how to develop your customer personas and develop more profitable relationships through the stories you tell.

Storytelling and Personas for More Effective Content Marketing

I think this article is a bit disjointed and confusing, but I included it anyway because of 2 pieces:

  1. The free B2B buyer persona development tool which will help you think through what is important to your customers.
  2. The end of the article where the author talks about the 6 mistakes B2B marketers make when telling stories. The list of mistakes is right on.


I also like the insights in the section on Story Drivers where author Lee Odden of Top Ranked Marketing talks about consistency and keeping stories fresh.

Buyer personas are not directly mentioned in the article, but go grab the free tool, which is in the article’s sidebar.

Lead Generation & Personas Workbook

I just found this piece, whose main focus is on lead generation. This is incredibly valuable but what I also really like is the section on creating Personas. Not only does this free workbook have great eye-candy because of its graphics, I also find it very useful for lead generation.

The solid ‘Buyer Persona’ worksheet that will help you build strong characters for your stories. And the ‘Buyer Journey’ worksheet is also another kind of story structure template. So is the ‘Landing Page’ worksheet. All of these will help you create your personal brand/narrative.

It’s a worthwhile piece and certainly puts all the mechanics of lead generation into one place. Enjoy working through the worksheets and growing your business!

ConclusionYou Nike

So here is what all of this boils down to: being authentic, creating connectedness through your authentic voice and buy personas, and then crafting targeted stories that connect. Invest the time – you will be glad you did because you will see way better results in terms of leads and conversions. And don’t forget to have fun in the process!

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Karen Dietz has been working in business storytelling with organizations for over 2 decades. She is also the top global curator on business storytelling at www.scoop.it/t/just-story-it. Karen is the co-author of the just published book "Business Storytelling for Dummies" by Wiley. You can find this and more at her website here.
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