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Building your Personal Brand 101

You! Yes you! are a brand and...

You need to be intentional about building your brand.

Now, let us take a moment to appreciate P.T. Barnum (also known as The Greatest Showman). The first time I came to the reality of what personal branding entailed I mentally pictured Hugh Jackman, the very ambitious dude, that starred as P.T. Barnum in the 2017 American musical film directed by Micheal Gracey titled 'The Greatest Showman.'

There are a myriad of lessons on personal branding to learn from the life of P.T. Barnum and of course, now is the time for you to sit up, take a notepad and jot down key points because I am about to get interestingly detailed.

Before I go completely P.T. Barnum on you, let's get what the buzz on Personal Branding is about. I would love to explain this using the WHAT, WHY and HOW effect. Thus,

What is personal brand?

Why do you need to build your personal brand? and...

How can you build your personal brand?

Your personal brand is your Unique Selling Point (USP). It is what you are known for and that which sets you apart from me as well as everyone else in the world. David McNally and Karl Speak, the authors of Be Your Own Brand, wrote that your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you. In summary, your personal brand defines you. It is the value attached to you. It is the sum total of the knowledge, skills and experiences that are peculiar to you and differentiates you from every other person.

If I give you the option to choose between 100 dollars and 100 naira, I am absolutely sure you would not let the 100 dollars slip from your grasp. But why? the answer lies in value. 100 dollars is more valuable and as such you are naturally inclined to want it. Since your personal brand is the value attached to you by people who come in contact with you then you need to build your personal brand to become invaluable in whatever industry you operate. The quality of your personal brand determines the type of opportunity that you attract. So what are you waiting for? Start building.

Using the life of P.T. Barnum, I am going to take you on a step by step journey on how to build a phenomenal personal brand so as to position yourself for the right opportunities and remain invaluable in your industry of interest.

  • Know yourself (nosce te ipsum):

"No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience." -P.T. Barnum

This is the foundation of personal branding. Knowing yourself can be achieved by an introspective understanding of who you are and what you stand for. A renowned philosopher, Socrates, stated that an unexamined life is not worth living. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions;

  1. What are my values?

  2. What are my strengths?

  3. What am I naturally good at?

  4. What are my weaknesses?

Being self-aware is the first step to building your personal brand. There are several free personality tests you can take online to have an understanding of yourself, use this opportunity to go through them. P.T Barnum knew that he was great at making people happy. He said, "I am a showman by profession… and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me". In other words, I am a Showman everything else is nothing more than extras. Who are you?

  • Add a unique touch:

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” -P.T. Barnum

To build a phenomenal personal brand you must be unique. Stand out from the crowd. Be different! So you want to be a public speaker. Well... so does thousands of people but having a unique style pitches you above every other person within your industry of interest. Being unique makes you memorable and invaluable. You need to spice yourself up. Beyond understanding that his purpose was to make people happy, P.T. Barnum distinguished himself by building a team with people considered as freaks. This differentiated his style of delivery from those of his counterparts. Do not conform. Be original! Be Different! Be unique!

  • Develop yourself:

Comfort is the enemy of progress.” ― P.T. Barnum

In this VUCA* world we live in, knowing your values and what makes you different is not enough. You need to take conscious effort to increase your knowledge and sharpen your skills so that you can remain invaluable. Take relevant courses, attend conferences, acquire appropriate certifications, build strong networks, develop soft skills and more importantly be innovative. In summary, take active steps to be better at what you do.

  • Be Visible:

Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land, - it largely increases the product.” ― P. T. Barnum

It is not enough that you know how to do something, others need to know that you know how to do it. If you want to be the go-to person in the field you operate in then you have no option but to be visible both online and offline. No one is gong to look for you if you do not position yourself where you can be found. For global visibility having a stellar online presence cannot be over emphasised. Make good use of social media platforms to portray your personal brand. Write several articles that gives your audience an understanding of you. Have a compelling bio and profile, find your audience and add value to them. Network both vertically and horizontally. To be outstanding, you must leverage on the power of visibility.

  • Be consistent :

"Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well." Many a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life, because he only half does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business. Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.” ― P.T. Barnum

Kaplan Mobray, the author of 10Ks of Personal Branding, noted that without a consistent message, your brand means nothing. Every great brand you know shares this in common. Building a personal brand is a lifestyle. It is a process that requires commitment. Personal branding does not end after one article on LinkedIn or a few tweets on Twitter. Personal branding requires long term effort and consistency to build. You must show up on a regular basis. Consistency in building your personal brand makes you dependable, trusted and recognized.

At this juncture you can drop your notepad because now is the right time to start your journey into building your brand.

On your mark...

Get set...



*VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.


Important: The link below provides ready made questions that will give you an easy start on this journey to building a personal brand.

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