Why personal branding isn’t all about the digital space

throwingsheepI met up with Matthew Fraser last week, author of Throwing Sheep from the Boardroom, during his recent visit to London. We managed to find a quiet spot in the Mayfair out of the glare of the paparazzi (who were there for George Clooney and Elton John, not us!)

Matthew is a fascinating guy who has been fortunate to hold many interesting roles, one of which was as a talk show host on CBC Newsworld. He was keen to point that last one out as he felt it explained why he was asking me so many questions!

mfraserAs a thought leader in the world of web 2.0, Matthew knows a thing or two about engagement and connection. And, with another book on the way that expands on the engagement theme, we could have quite easily just talked all things web 2.0 and engagement. But, intrigued by the fact that I specialise in Personal Branding, he was keen to share his advice, advice that I’m happy to share here.

Matthew was very open about what his advice would be for anyone: if you want to be known for anything, write about it! And he doesn’t mean a blog, but a book. Yes, write and launch a book. As the proud author of five books, this guy knows what he’s talking about.

I know that some of us have probably heard this before but, for Matthew, the book launch is only the beginning. A published book is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader on a topic that you want to own. Not only that, but it is a solid platform on which to launch yourself as a speaker on the international circuit. Within 6 months of his latest book coming out, Matthew, now firmly positioned as a web 2.0 guru, was touring the world doing talks on the social web. And, from our quick chat, it sounds like it’s a nice little earner.

Other titbits of advice that Matthew kindly shared include;

Obvious, but easy to forget. Review the others books that exist on your chosen topic and make sure that the angle you’re proposing is unique. It can be too easy to just verbalise your content without thinking about how it fits into the competitive landscape.

chinese-takeaway-food-001Make it a take-away!
Publishers love it when you offer the reader some exercises and actions for them to take away. Of course, you might prefer to intellectualise and stick to theory, but exercises and actions are more likely to get you the deal.

Don’t expect to get paid!
Really? Yes! The book is a tool. It’s a marketing brochure, a sample of you. The payment comes afterward in the form of speaking gigs, consultancy and the occasional opening of a supermarket!  You might be offered money, but if you’re not, don’t worry.  Do it anyway!

The thing that strikes me from this whole conversation, is that a thought leader in web 2.0, is encouraging the use of non-web 2.0 methods to build your personal brand. Of course, social media is still critical, but it’s in addition to what we do in the real world. And, we must remember that for most people, you just can’t beat the things that you hear, see and touch.

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Personal Branding and your Digital Identity

One of the things that’s been keeping me busy recently has been the launch of my Personal Branding Taster Sessions that I’ve been running in London and Nottingham.

The reason I decided to do these was that some people I speak to still don’t seem to understand how Personal Branding might be relevant to them. Sure, if you’re in the spotlight for whatever reason, then it’s crucial. But beyond that, folk seem to think that it’s just not relevant to them. Oh but it is! And yes, you’re thinking that I’m bound to say that.

Thankfully, the feedback from my sessions has reinforced that massively: Personal Branding IS RELEVANT & IMPORTANT.

But, if I were to be official for one second, I would summarise my main finding so far to be this…

Digital Presence
The main aspect of my attendees’ Personal Brands that seems to be in need of attention is their Digital Presence. Their digital identity will include anything from social network participation and profiles, to Google rankings and whether or not they have their own site etc.

Staggeringly, some people are still not convinced that they need to worry too much about what happens online. Comments I’ve heard include “well, in my industry, it’s all face to face and who you know” and “none of the people I know are on social networks”. REALLY? What world are they living in?

For those that are convinced that they need to clean up their digital act, they complain that they’re not tech-savvy, and that they don’t understand how the social networks work.

I find it interesting that for some, the digital landscape is still so confusing and scary, and yet, this is where social interaction and engagement is happening.

It seems that for many, their Personal Branding challenge is to understand the world of web 2.0.

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