What’s the use of a great voice if only the bathroom walls hear you sing?
Similarly, your outstanding credentials, your terrific skills, and your valuable experience will never be known by the people who might truly spell a great difference in your career if you don’t let them get known, right?
If you want your splendid voice to be heard and recognized, you will need an audience. But it’s not enough to say that you simply need an audience. You need the right audience.
In personal branding, there are basically three people that your personal brand needs to target:
- Those who will pay you;
- Those who influence those who pay you; and
- Your supporters
Your primary target is the people who will most likely pay you. These are investors, clients, and executives among others. This might be your boss, your prospective boss, your business’s target customer, or an investor or a bank.
The Paying Audience: Your Number One Priority
In this post, we will talk about how to execute your brand vision or branding plan to appeal to those who actually have a say on your career advancement (those who and will pay you).
A quick, friendly reminder: Trying to appeal to everyone is a recipe for failure. Targeting an audience is like playing the Game of Darts. To hit the board, you have to aim for it. If you let loose of those darts without aiming them, well.. you will probably hit other things other than the board but you won’t be very popular for doing so. Conversely, if you aim very well and you hit the bull’s eye, then that’s perfect!
Step One: Know The People Who Can Help You Advance
Who are the people who can most likely help you with your career goal? That depends on what you intend to become.
In the previous part of this series, we’ve talked about building a brand vision and we laid out a path to your career goal. In this path that you’ve laid out, there are people. They will inevitably determine if and when you can take it to the next level.
Say, for example, you are currently a sales executive in your company’s marketing department. Now, you want to reach an executive level in the same department. The person who will decide if you can make it to that level are your bosses along the way – your immediate supervisor, your supervisor’s director, and so on. So, who will be your targets? That’s right… your immediate supervisor (who is probably the lead of your sales team or division).
Bottomline: Identify the person-in-charge or the decision-maker in the next step in your career (e.g. an immediate supervisor, an investor perhaps, a prospective client, or or or, a vision of a person).
Step Two: Outlining Your Target’s Persona
This is a basic exercise in sales and marketing. In order for your intended audience to give regard to what you are offering, or to you per se, you need to relate to them. To successfully do that (connect or relate), you have to genuinely know who they are, what they want, and what their pains are.
It also helps if you go into specific details about your target. You may include the person’s routine or daily tasks, what they do on the weekends with their family and friends.
Quick tip: Paste a photo of your intended subject (trust me this is not creepy). If it is a vision of a person, find a photo online that fits your vision (Elon Musk maybe? Or, Mark Zuckerberg?) and include it in the profile sheet.
Identify the person’s motivations. Identifying an individual’s persona include getting inside their head and figuring out their motivations. Knowing their motivation will give you an idea how to help them their goals as a way of achieving yours.
Identify the person’s pains. Aside from motivations, it’s nice to know their pains, too. For obvious reasons, knowing their pains will help you find ways to help them with their pains.
Bottomline: Genuinely understand the intended audience of your personal brand. Know their motivations, their pains, and their persona in general. This will help you fine-tune the message you want to get across.
Step Three: Know What Opportunity Looks Like When You See One
Now that you know what motivates and what pains your target audience, it’s time to make your move. You have to figure out a way to help them to help you in the process. But to do that, you have to have the opportunity to extend that help.
When there are no doors, well, they say you have to build one for yourself. You can try this by talking to the prospective person.
Let’s use our previous example. Say your immediate supervisor, the sales team leader, is motivated to achieve a certain sales goals but the method to reach those goals pains him. You can offer help by helping him pinpoint bottlenecks and best practices. A discussion with the team spur new ideas, and most importantly bring opportunities to light. Now that you have the opportunity to shine, grab it.
Bottomline: Letting your value known is the most important step up the career ladder. Genuinely understand what your target audience wants and needs, and try your best to help them with it.
Thought Leaders: Those Who Influence Those Who (Or Will) Pay You
Yes, your number one priority is those who will most likely pay you, those who have the ultimate say if and when you can take the next level of your career. However, there’s another important group of individuals you need to please – those who influence the person who pays you.
These are probably thought leaders – those who occupy the attention (in some way) of the person who pays you. These may be industry writers, industry speakers, a business partner, a mentor, clients, or vendors.
Why do you have to appeal to these influencers? The logic is simple: If you can earn their trust and their approval, they can influence the person who (or will) pay you.
So how do you get your message across? There’s a few step that can guide you.
- Identify them. Looking for the social media profiles of your number one priority (the one that pays you) will give you an idea who they are following or who they are connected with. Twitter is a great place to start with this task. Who do they follow? What kind of content do they share? The likes. You can also check their LinkedIn connections. Moreover, you can look for online publications that has a readership demographics that match your target person. Industry writers have great influence to your target person.
- Outline their persona. Just like what you did in the first part of this series, create a description of these influencers (e.g. their motivations, their pains, their routines among others). This will help you understand them and better plan out an approach to earn their trust and approval.
- Now, know how to connect with them. You have to figure out the most effective ways to connect with these influencers. You may follow their social media profiles (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram among others). You may also follow their blogs or columns. Commenting on these influencers blogs and columns is also an effective way of making yourself visible to these influencers.
- Lastly, connect with them even more. This is where your pitching skills matter most. You may connect with these influencers deeper by pitching your ideas to them. After outlining their persona and understanding their motivations and pains, you probably have an idea how to help them, too. Perhaps you have a free high-quality content you’d like them to have. Or if the influencer you are trying to target is a vendor, you can probably help them get more clients! It’s up to you how ingenious you are.
Your Circle: Those Who Have Your Back
Your support system is vital to your success. They may be your family, friends, colleagues, mentors, or anybody who can offer your support as you work your way to your vision.
“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”
Why are they important? For the obvious reason: They provide you reassurance when you get frustrated. They can provide you honest criticisms for you to do better. Or, they can give you that extra push you can never get from anybody else.
Identify your support team. Regularly update with them. Tell them about your vision, your goals, and your plan. They might give you feedback or encouragement. Keeping them informed of your plans will also keep you motivated. Having people watching you gives you that extra motivation to do better.
Also, your relationship with your support team should not be a one-way street. You have to give back. They might have professional goals, too and maybe you can help each other out. You can be each other’s support team. You can offer advice, criticism and challenge each other.
It is not an uncommon practice today that professionals are creating groups in social networking sites like Google Plus, Facebook Groups, and LinkedIn Groups among others. You can get a lot from these forums (e.g. opinion, expert strategies, best practices, to avoid among others). And, it’s a great way to cultivate a great relationship with your peers!
In the third leg of this series, we will talk about actually building your personal brand online and offline. So, stay tuned! We’ll talk later! Ciao!