How do you feel about branding? Just something the big guys do, right? With their fancy logos, huge budgets and whole teams of marketing types?
Well no, not really. I’ve been reading up on this quite a bit recently, and had a few conversations with other freelancers about it. See, we’re not very good at creating a personal brand for our small businesses here in the UK. Especially if we’re freelancers. While our contemporaries in America are more than happy to promote themselves as a brand (see fabulous women like Marie Forleo and Amy from SexySavvySmart), we’re all about the self-depreciating remarks. I absolutely include myself in this group. I’m guilty of saying “Oh, I write about bags and gadgets for a living” when asked what I do for a living. It’s true, but not a particularly good representation of the big picture.
How many times have people introduced themselves to you with phrases like:
“Hi, I’m Julie and I’m a solicitor. I know, it’s as boring as it sounds! *Nervous laugh*”
“I’m an accountant. Well, it pays the bills”
Not exactly inspiring, is it?
We’re all a little bit shy of promoting ourselves as a brand. But you wouldn’t find a big company like Apple saying” Oh, we just make these phones and laptops.” They shout their achievements from the rooftops and tell everyone how great their products are.
I’m not saying we should all go that far. If someone came up to me at a networking event and said “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m awesome. Really awesome. I’m one of the best IT recruiters you’ve ever met. Bask in my brilliance”, I’d think they were a bit of a prat. But if someone said “Hi, I’m Bob, I love my job helping talented people find great jobs in the IT industry”, I’d be interested to hear more – and more likely to mention their name to others.
If you think of yourself as a product or service, rather than just a person, you should find it easier to promote yourself as such. It’s something I’m certainly trying to do more (even if I have to fight the urge to throw in a self-depreciating joke or two).
Social Media is one of the biggest forces behind personal branding now. Companies are no longer faceless masses, and people are getting to know the people behind the ideas. Therefore one of the best ways to create a personal brand now is by blogging, tweeting, YouTubing and creating a Facebook page for your company. By doing this, you create a ‘voice’ which contributes to your brand. Oddly enough, especially on Twitter, it’s far easier and more acceptable to promote your freelancing or small business.
Want to know more about Personal Branding? Check out Dan Schawbel’s website Personal Branding Blog.
How easy do you find it to confidently promote your business and your brand? Or are you, like me, guilty of a few too many self-depreciating jokes?