We all like to think that we’re experts in our subject areas. But no doubt a web search would uncover many other highly qualified people in your field. Conference organizers and reporters are searching the web for experts who can excite an audience or give them a unique perspective on a breaking news story.
Why Not You?
You’re more likely to receive a phone call if you have a distinctive personal brand. That’s as important to an individual as to a company or any organization. In fact, a number of famous individuals have come to embody the brand of their organizations. Think Marissa Mayer formerly of Yahoo or Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
What is your personal brand? As the author of a post about branding in Forbes suggests, ask yourself, What makes me unique? What is my differentiator? What skills do people seek me out for? What is my unique selling proposition (USP)?
Using dull and dry terms to describe yourself such as “proven track record” and “top producer” are not grabbers.
The Pressure to Stand Out
A review of two pianists a while back in the New York Times began with: “Many young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out.” Well, don’t we all. It’s not just pianists.
But it was another sentence in the review that synthesized the essence of a personal brand: “It is not enough to play an instrument – or sing or conduct – brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.”
Think about what excites you in your work. Did you accomplish something that still makes your heart sing? Tell your story to your spouse/partner or a colleague. Bring passion to the telling. Then ask for their feedback. What words did you use? What about the story of your accomplishment got them excited.
Then craft a brand statement that uses those keywords when you describe yourself. Your brand is the essence of who you are and what you want to be known for.
As you define your brand, think of the attributes that set you apart from the competition. These could include your:
- Technical expertise
- Innovative products or services
- Industry niche
- Unique approach to problem solving
- Access to decision-makers and thought leaders
- Experience in exotic parts of the world
Your brand must be crystal clear and easily understood by your targets. A conference organizer or reporter wants to know the two or three key attributes that distinguish you from other speakers and spokespeople they could contact. Your targets must be able to grasp your personal brand quickly so they know “What’s in it for me?”
Once you’ve defined your brand, communicate it to those who can contribute to your success. Don’t wait for conference organizers or reporters to find you. Reach out to them and communicate why they should use you as a resource and not someone else.
When you’ve defined your brand correctly, conference organizers and media will be excited to know you and invite you into their circle of trusted speakers and expert sources.