Building your personal brand: How to find your swagger by Dr. Jonathan Wilson
Written by Dr. Jonathan A.J. Wilson, Professor and Branding Consultant, Adjunct Faculty member at Hult
This year using LinkedIn and engaging with the LinkedIn community has really paid off. At the end of 2017, I received a LinkedIn Top Voices Award and I was one of the featured professionals in their cross-platform advertising campaigns. As the only UK academic to receive this award, this is something that I’m especially proud of. LinkedIn and professionals said that they were fans of my comments on Intersectionality, Future Trends, Personal Branding, and Student Engagement.
Content is king, but engagement is Queen
Personal Branding has finally arrived as a mainstream term and legitimate professional activity for all professionals – not just the celebs. Everyone is vying to stand out and to be that collective individual, who’s witty, plugged-in, relevant, and thought-leading.
Personal Branding means holding up a mirror to your own personal offering and using brand thinking in order to enhance your standing – strategically, with cogency and a clear purpose. I’ve termed this approach P.L.A.I.C.E. – that ability to demonstrate Personality, Legitimacy, Authenticity, Intersectionality, Credibility, and Excitement/Empathy. The reasoning is that you as a brand will be able to do this better than you without a brand and you can command a premium.
I also mentioned to an audience of 5,000 marketers in Jakarta last December that old social media thinking was very macho – in that it seems to be about being M.A.L.E.: Making, Audiences, Like, Everything… when it should be more F.E.M.A.L.E.: Focus, Enhance, Multiply, Amplify, Legacy, Energize.
One thing that I’m doing more than ever is engaging with information in a more intellectual and iterative way. Rather than simply reading or sharing articles, now’s the time to have dialogue with authors and professionals on social media. Information is no longer faceless–we’re giving a face to the melting-pot of globalization. The idea is that you deliberate, debate, and collaborate in public–which can enhance your personal brand and lead to opportunities.
This is the ‘T-shaped’ approach to knowledge–where you cover both breadth and depth. Being a general expert has never been more important. It reminds me of when we were back at school and I had to study a broad curriculum. But at the same time, people are looking for domain experts who can deep dive into particular areas.
For me, that meant tackling the slow and fast aspects of culture and taking calculated risks – where I put myself out there commenting on areas that perhaps many would avoid in order to play it safe. Some of the areas have been:
- Ethnic and race issues
- Women in the workplace
- Fake news and tunnel vision tribalism
- Unconscious bias in Artificial Intelligence
- The future of University Business Schools
- Student employability Halal and Muslim markets
- Future trends
- Millennials and Gen-Z
Get yourself onto video
Now there are many people producing 1min, 3min, 10min, and 15min vlogs. However, it seems that there is a place for longer video content. I’ve been releasing 30min and even 55min videos, which people are consuming in the same way that we now binge watch entertainment. Audiences want an intense experience that goes into depth, and blends knowledge and insight with personality, a feel-good vibe, humor, and entertainment–we can call it edutainment.
If things are going this way, then this is the new secret sauce to business. Do you have what it takes to hold a crowd?
Learn the rules, then break them
Finally, another thing that I believe more than ever is that if you’re going to survive in a Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous (VUCA) world, then you need to move towards being a trailblazer and doing this through creating your own lane.
That means, learning all of the rules in meticulous detail, developing a sort of muscle memory through continued and repetitive adherence to these rules – and then paradoxically making the switch towards deciding which rules you can break and what new ones you can make. If you do it right, then you should rise in the ranks, because now you’re in pole position. Slavishly following someone else’s rules means that you can never really win the game.
There are however some basic principles that are timeless and humans haven’t changed that much. We still want to: have a purpose, learn and grow, be relevant and remembered, be surrounded by good people, be valued and respected, love and be loved.
So be sure to take a break from surfing the waves of activity online and all the articles talking about future trends. Do take time to delve into philosophical reads to reflect on your own view–thoroughly recommend Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, and Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagukre.
The marketing blueprint: S.C.O.T.T.
Be ready for whatever comes your way, in the right state of mind, and generate an infectious and immovable spirit that brings people towards you–oh and have your CV on ice.
Consider how you would answer each of the following points, using facts, figures, and anecdotes. This is the marketing blueprint and style guide that grounds your contributions strategically:
Show your Game – that you have a competitive edge
Claim your Lane – where it’s clear what you’re about
Own that Name – your domain, sector, and personal handles
Take the Reins – make sure that you’re in control of your destination
Trade on Brains – demonstrate that you’re a connected thought leader
…And do the same again and again
Finally, just to tighten things up, even more, refine this information into an elevator pitch. Learn how to communicate in different voices, to different word-counts and styles appropriate for particular platforms and audiences. One-size does not fit all. Inject emotions, poetic storytelling, or anything to make them more memorable. Now that I’ve made these points, I can’t wait to meet and chew the fat with you all!
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Professor Jonathan A.J. Wilson Ph.D. teaches Brand and Marketing courses at Hult International Business School and is an Academic and Consultant who specializes in what he calls the ABCDs of Business and Culture: Advertising, Branding, Communications, and Digital. A reputation for being an electric, dynamic and quick-witted public speaker able to tackle real-world phenomena. His analysis of slow and fast culture blends old school thinking with new school insight, a splash of stand-up panache, and a dash of gritty Hip-hop/Grunge.
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