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101 Personal Branding for A (Very) Ordinary Folk – Part 2


As mentioned in the previous article, in this part, I’ll talk about the most basic tactics in personal branding. They’re doable for everyone. Thus I would like to repeat: this is the series for starters in self personal branding who don’t figure out their uniqueness yet.

(On another note, why do I have to emphasize “a lack of determined uniqueness”? Because while some tactics below are very useful for those described; they are optional for people with a specific skill or talent.)

In this article, I’ll discuss:

  1. How to determine who you should be
  2. Build your social media presence

The number 1 is the very foundation while the topic 2 is quite easy to practice and keep up with.

In the third article, the topic will revolve around managing your impression in real life.

Determine your 3 keywords

Pick the 3 best words to describe yourself and what you believe. You should pick them from a very large pool to make sure you don’t overlook any potential words.

My words are Integrity, Creativity and Progress

  • Integrity: that is my philosophy in communication
  • Creativity: it describes the nature of my activities and hobbies
  • Progress: I care about social issues as well as volunteer with a sincere hope for a better world.

Of course anyone would think they believe in the same things I choose. How would we be different from each other?

The pitch is that you can choose only 3 words. Which would you remove to reserve the spots for the more important to you?
Think carefully! You also can do step 2 (Write a personal statement) prior.

These words are the backbone for your acts and speech. It also serves as a filter. Whenever you’re about to do or say something shocking, consider if the act would be against any of these words.

Write your personal statement

When I said “write”, I meant it. You gotta find a pen and a paper, and write it down thoroughly. Imagine you were standing in front of an audience of thousands of people, and you had 2 minutes to answer the quetion, “WHO ARE YOU?”

And when I said “2 minutes,” I also meant it, plus or minus some seconds. You shouldn’t throw a short single sentence for the sake of making an impression. (Believe me, I have seen this kind of acts ample times.) There are two reasons why you shouldn’t: to respect your audience and to estimate your endurance.

The first reason is this simple: if you’re not a mysterious guy, don’t pretend to be a mysterious guy. Your audience is way smarter than you (possibly) think. Don’t underestimate them by playing your crappy fiction role. Most of the people you need to give a good impression are successful grown-ups. They can figure out who you are in an instant. Even worse for you, they don’t have time to play this game with someone who needs them. You are a mysterious guy? Okay, I’ll call someone else. Next!

To respect your audience means being aware that most of them are smarter than you think

The second reason is to estimate your endurance. If you can’t think of  more interesting stories to tell about yourself, what will you do? Can you keep generating good ideas when you seem to run out of it? It’s very difficult, even for semi-professional writers like me. Think about the times when you don’t want to meet anybody, write anything or when you have too many other troubles to care about your branding. Life will happen that way, and when it happens, remember what you did to fulfill my 2-minute requirement.

You don’t need to share your personal statement with anybody, but I suggest you to stand in front of a mirror and practice it. Don’t forget eye contact and gestured, as well as smiles. There will be times you need it, I guarantee. Once you mesmerize your personal statements, it will round out your vision about yourself.

To sum it up:

  • Write your personal statement. Length of 2 minutes
  • Practice to introduce yourself in front of a mirror

Determine Your Interests

From the 3 words and your personal statement, the next step is to determine what your best and strongest interest is at the moment, then figure out what should be the accompanying. Some of you care about plenty of things but too many is never a good thing. You gotta become an expert, and no expert ever works in so many fields.

For example:

  • The main interest is “literature”, the accompanying are “creative activities” and “equal gender.”
  • The main interest is “psychology”, the accompanying are “technology” and “music.”

The accompanying ain’t necessarily involved directly with the main one, but they shouldn’t be too different or separated either. The couple of “fashion” and “physics” are way more difficult to execute than “fashion” and “fitness.”

You always can change any of these three interests during your long personal branding journey. But don’t change it too often. Remember, these are your expertises. It takes a lot of time to master something and then to convince people to believe that you’re good at it.

Also, no one requires you to talk about only these three fields, but you should focus on them a little bit more than other subjects.

Read materials, share links, comments, like pages, talk and make connection with people in these fields,… all these things you have to do prove that you need to choose what you’re really interested in and good at.

Polish At Least One Social Media Profile

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest,… it’s up to you to choose the most appropriate one. Remember to do some research before picking the One.

  • Facebook ranks as the first in the most popular list, following by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter
  • But it doesn’t mean Facebook is the No.1 option for you. Fashionistas are more active on Instagram, Snapchat is rising as the new star between teenagers, etc.

For those who already have a strong advantage to promote on social media (writing fictions, composing music, discussing social issues….) this is merely an extra step which adds just a tiny bit of value to their brand. But as it doesn’t take much effort and its pros overweight cons, there is rarely a reason for you to avoid doing it. Nowadays, your social media profile almost serves as your representative. Would you want it to be “touched up” a little bit?

At least let’s try to finish these categories:

  • Your high school and university
  • Your employments in the past and the future
  • Your profile picture of yourself. People tend not to interact with a “cat” or a “tree” or a “fictional character.”
  • Email (feel free to create another email for this purpose so you don’t get spammed)
  • Languages you can speak
  • Your gender
  • Your location
  • Your other social media profiles, blogs
  • Your favorite quote
  • The pages you liked: pay attention for this part. You can like whatsoever you like, but balance the ratio between what’s relevant to your fields and what’s not. If you’re a teacher, you should like Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Newton, besides Justin Bieber, Drake or 9gag… If your list includes only the latter, people may question how much you’re into your career as a teacher. Even if you want to promote yourself as a hard-core fan of movies, you gotta research about genres, markets, etc. to know where to focus. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Do you know what this feels like? Like you were writing a resume. Chances are not many people read it or care about it at all, but the lack of it is not recommended, except if you are already famous or have a specific talent or skill. And we’re not discussing that kind of people in this article, ain’t we?

Purify Your Social Media Profile

What may harm your image and violate your 3 words? Consider to limit that kind of content on your social media profile.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t post or remove them thoroughly. After all, you are a human being with all of your wildness and weaknesses, which on some level make your “brand” even more interesting. We’re not a product with all of its shiny labels.

But again, we’re are what we talk about.

If you always talk about how crazily you partied last night, how this guy is a jackass for dumping you because you are dating another guy,… I find it doubtful to trust you as good teacher, lawyer, or doctor. If you want to become another Michell Phan, should your body be in a good shape and your skin look good? That’s your call.

Post More Frequently With A Strategy

Can it be any simpler? Just post more frequently, but with a strategy. Flooding your Facebook profile with your kid’s pictures is not the right answer.

On an average, you should post at least 1 post/ 2 days. This number is way too little for a page or a brand, but given that you’re a human and a starter in personal branding, it’s somewhat okay. Personally, I recommend you to post more, at least 2 posts/ day. On the other hand, don’t overpost! 10 posts/ day is a big No except if you’re extremely confident in the quality of your content. But the point is you have to do it daily on a long run. So if one day you have plenty of awesome posts, save it for the days when you don’t even want to get out of your bed, let alone tell the world what’s on your mind.

What kind of content should you post? Of course it’s what relevant to your fields and what you care about: movie, music, education, entertainment, psychology… to name a few.

What ratio is appropriate? For me personally, I apply the rule 60/30/10 or 70/20/10

  • 60% – 70%: share what your audience’s interested into. For example: a teacher posting a link of Coursera‘s free physics course or a make up expert posting her tutorial
  • 20%-30%: share your opinions about an issue, products, artworks,…
  • 10%: your personal stuff (your kids’ photos, what you eat today, etc.)

Since this a personal profile, not a page, you don’t need to categorize the content too strictly. Your selfie can be count into the 60% category if the caption along with it is about how to take care of your skin in winter.

After all, I would like to repeat, you are what you post.

I’m so glad that you make it this far. See you guys in Part 3: Do It In Real Life

Rio Lam Signature

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Published in Eng Public Relations


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