It’s not what you know or even who you know. It’s who knows YOU.
The whole point of building your personal brand is because people need to know, like and trust YOU.
What do the Targets and Nikes and Apples of the world have in common with your favorite actors, musicians, and influencers?
They each have a distinct brand that people know, like and trust enough to buy.
Their brand tells their story: How they came to be, the experiences that shaped them, how they see the world.
Their brand communicates their vision: What type of world they want to create for the people they care about.
Their brand has a look: The visuals and colors they use, how they use style and imagery to clarify, emphasize, and convey their message.
Their brand has a voice: How they talk, the words they use (and the words they don’t.)
Yes, people know these brands and people because they have big platforms and (sometimes) a lot of money, but that wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t tell them apart. If they didn’t have their own distinct vision, story, look, and voice, TarNikApp would barely register on our collective cultural radar.
They’ve managed to combine the things that people pay attention to in an appealing way: A clear brand + consistent exposure.
The good news (or not-so-good news depending on what day it is) is that in this day and age, you don’t need to spend a ton of money or build a huge platform to have either of those things.
A clear brand + consistent exposure are key.
There’s a woman I’ve been following on social media for a while, and I started following her because it seemed like I saw her everywhere.
She was at conferences and hosting workshops and quoted in articles. Online, she was always posting about being a #girlboss and traveling to speak and promoting her brand. But I had no idea what she actually did.
I went to one of those conferences and she was there, at the head of a line of people waiting to speak to her. “Oh, that’s [redacted],” I said to a fellow attendee. “I’ve seen her around, but what does she actually DO?”
The people around me shrugged; they didn’t know either. But they still got in line to talk to her.
That’s when I realized: it didn’t really matter that people didn’t know what she did. What mattered was that people knew who she was.
It’s the opposite of what most of us have been taught about hard work and learning valuable skills and developing our talents. But I’ve seen “who knows you is more important that what you do” play out in too many different scenarios to call it a fluke.
And it’s not that hard work, talent, etc. are not valuable. They are. It’s just that people want to know who you are before they’ll really pay attention to what you do.
As an if-I-just-work-hard-enough-people-will-notice introvert it was a painful realization.
But then I started to see the value in exposure, for being known for your story vs your skills, because that’s the way people truly connect. There’s no need for hateration in this dancerie because we all have a story.
If you want people to hire you/invest in you/collaborate with you because you’re so damn talented (and you are!), they have to know who you are FIRST. And the best way to make that happen is to build YOUR brand.