There's no shortage of advice on how to succeed in business (and in life): "put yourself out there," people will say. "Promote yourself." But how specifically can you become known in your chosen industry? What steps do you take? How much time do you need to invest? Until now, books on personal branding have emphasized the need to become known, but they've been skimpy on the details as to how.
Mark Schaefer has built a valuable personal brand of his own. Today he's the best-selling author of six books and a successful marketing strategist, educator, and speaker. But to achieve that success, he's invested years building his personal brand in the marketing industry. Mark learned the hard way that, to succeed, any fledgling business owner must become known.
He shares the secret to his success in his latest book, KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. In fact, he shares the secret to many people's success. He interviewed hundreds of successful people in areas as varied as music, real estate, cooking, finance, and art, then distilled their stories down to a few common lessons that anyone can use to replicate their success with personal branding.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Mark:
It's not enough to pick a niche, you've got to find your calling (11:40): "I started hearing in each interview people saying 'the thing that keeps me going is I know I'm having an impact on other people. I know I'm making a positive change in the world. I can support the people and the causes I believe in...' All of them believe in a purpose higher than just selling stuff.
There's no such thing as "overnight success"—becoming known takes years (12:38): "I read an excellent book by Angela Duckworth called Grit. And Angela is a psychologist who did research on how people persevere...how people stick with it. That's a very important thing. On average, the people I interviewed took two and a half years for their personal brands to really tip, to start gaining traction and momentum. So it takes some...tenacity to do this.
"In Angela's research, one of the common threads she found in the people who rated highest on her grit scale was that they had a purpose. They were driven because they knew they were helping others. That really explains a lot: there's this correlation between grittiness and also having success becoming known, because sometimes you have to keep going even when you're not sure it's working, even when you're not sure you're having an impact. That takes grit."
You don't just need a dream, you need a plan (16:36): "It's perfectly fine to have a passion. It's perfectly fine to have a dream, but you also need to have a plan. You need to think it through. You need to have a little bit of research behind you to give you the very best chance to succeed. And that is my plea in the book: don't waste years of your life following a dream without a plan. Please, go through these steps and give yourself the best chance to succeed. There is a process you can go through, there are exercises you can go through to assess what's the competition going to be...how hard is this going to be, where is my competition, how can I be different?
"Perhaps most important, is there an audience big enough that matters? Are there people out there who care about this, who will help me achieve my goals? Research shows that the number one reason...a business fails is because...there's no market need. There's not an audience big enough to support this dream. So with a little bit of thinking...a little bit of planning, we can neutralize that, maybe even get an advantage, and really set people off in the right direction with the best hope for success."
To learn more, visit BusinessesGrow.com and follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkWSchaefer. And be sure to get your copy of KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age.
Mark and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Mark W. Schaefer, brand strategist, educator, and best-selling author of six books including KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. Follow Mark on Twitter at @markwschaefer and learn more about him and the book at BusinessesGrow.com.