As we’re entering into the final months of 2023, you can expect to see a flurry of posts, articles, videos, and other forms of media talking about goal setting, how to grow your business, your income, and a variety of other areas going into the new year. I’d like to take a couple of minutes in this article to bring attention to one area that you may have in times prior, overlooked. Your personal brand.
As more future-focused individuals come to understand the benefits that come from growing their personal brands, the space between the present day and the end goal can be blurry and even daunting. Do you want to gain 10,000 followers across social media? Be interviewed on some podcasts? Get into the press? I’m here to provide some insights into why you need to be setting targets for your personal brand, more importantly how you can achieve them, and finally, what can be done to maintain the momentum you’ve built for not only 2024 but years ahead.
As a quick, FYI, I will be synonymously using the word target in exchange for the word goal. I am also writing this for the person who is consciously working to grow their personal brand and establish themselves as a thought leader and a public figure.
The Plant With Flowers But No Fruit
Over the summer, I planted a variety of crops on my back patio. There were crops like habanero peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants. For several weeks after dropping the seeds into the soil, I would consistently water the pots full of dirt, with faith that the seeds I planted would eventually germinate and sprout. Eventually, one by one all of the plants sprouted. I continued to nurture these plants, seeing them grow several inches each week. It took months for the plants to mature. Some days were hotter and required more water than others. Some days less.
As time went on the crops began to flower. I was particularly hopeful for my habanero pepper plants. I’m a huge fan of spicy foods and was looking forward to the day I could tearfully eat fresh peppers. The thing was, the plant produced flowers for a month, without putting out one pepper. Frustrated, I continued to water the plants with the goal of getting and crying over at least one pepper by the season’s end. Time passed, and one day I saw a little fruit coming out of what was once a flower. It was my very own habanero. Call it childish, but I was ecstatic.
Your personal brand is like that pepper plant. You have to have a target in your mind of where you want to be and at times you may feel like it looks great, but simultaneously wonder, “Where is the fruit of my labor?” I’ve experienced this with past clients. We will work to make adjustments to their personal brand, create content, improve their presence online, and so on and so forth, but where is the fruit? It looks better, but now what? Then one day, a text crossed my screen “I got my first article placement!” Another client says “Look at this video!” — the video surpassed 100,000 views within several days.
By building your personal brand, you are effectively producing flowers for the world to see. You’re improving your image and your reputation, building trust, establishing credibility, and connecting with potential clients, partners, investors, supporters, fans, and the list continues. The first couple of flowers on the plant don’t always produce fruit, but with time, and continuous care, you will land that one placement, that one video, or that one podcast appearance that sets the tone for every single one after that.
Determining Your Target
Before you can set your personal brand targets, you should understand what you are looking to gain. People build their personal brands for one of or a combination of reasons. The big ones are as follows.
Vanity or ego
Drive attention to a cause
These are the three umbrella reasons that all other targets fall under. For example, If you would like to make $100,000 for your consulting business, you are using your personal brand as a billboard, ultimately attracting opportunities to you. Every single action you take will either establish or destroy your credibility, ergo vanity, attract or push away prospective clients and let someone who previously didn’t know about your business, know about what you’re doing.
There are two different kinds of activities. Those that directly generate results, and those that indirectly generate results. To continue the consulting example, connecting with three new people each day who are targeted leads would likely generate results more directly than being interviewed on a non-niche-specific podcast that brings you prospects over a period of time. Both are important activities but drive different outcomes.
If I set a target of going on 100 podcasts in 2024, I know my appearances will help indirectly drive revenue by growing my credibility and putting me in front of new audiences, all while directly connecting me with new hosts that I could refer clients to.
This begs the question “What are these 100 podcasts” — For this article, I’ll refrain from going into too much detail about audience size, niches, and formats. There are a lot of variables that should be factored in, but at the target-setting stage, I don’t recommend being so obsessive you stress yourself into inaction. When in doubt, do a mix. I will be looking to get into some larger shows with 100,000 listeners or more, while also getting on a bunch of smaller niche audiences of 100,000 or less. I’m not so much concerned with this, as I will be able to promote these interviews nonetheless and even take the videos and break them down into social media content and blogs.
Examples of other personal branding targets:
Landing X number of speaking engagements
Gaining X followers across social media
Being featured in X number of articles
Gaining X number of listeners/viewers
You can imagine how painstaking it would be to break down each example and why diversifying your targets is important. Would you not count a speaking engagement towards your target just because it was only in front of 50 people? Would you factor in who those 50 people were? Where was the engagement posted? Are you counting virtual speaking engagements? You can be as specific as you want, but micromanaging every opportunity will cause you to lose more than you gain. Be aware, but not overtly scrupulous.
Thinking and working from a macro perspective, all of your targets will build off of one another. Being interviewed on podcasts will naturally help you gain followers, and potentially lead to speaking engagements, and even press interviews. I use the example of podcasts because they are one of the easiest ways to start and are a part of the strategy many high-caliber authorities use.
It’s important to set targets with different time frames in mind. You can break down targets into whatever bracket of time you find efficient, but I prefer daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. I know that if I have the goal of getting onto 100 podcasts in one year, I would need to average 8.33 podcasts per month or 1.92 per week. I clearly can’t be on a fraction of a podcast, so there will be one or two months out of the year when I go on a few extra shows. I recommend watching my video on being a podcast guest for a better understanding of how you can land podcast placements.
When you look at what’s right in front of you, you’re not looking up at this mountain that you have never climbed before. 2 podcasts per week means you need to connect with podcasters a few weeks in advance through social media or podcasting software and allocate 2 to 4 hours of your time. If you do that consistently for a month, you will have been interviewed 8 times.
Building your personal brand creates momentum. Once you have done a few podcasts, you will naturally improve. Once you have 10 appearances, you can create an “In The Media” sheet where you include all of the links to your interviews. At this moment it is also worth creating a media kit and writing a third-person bio with pictures you can send to podcast hosts in advance. You will not have all of this to start out with but the important thing is YOU WILL.
If you would like to gain a million followers on social media over the next 12 months you need to A) Identify why you want the followers and B) Evaluate paths to get them. Do you want them on one platform or across multiple? What kind of content do you need to make? How do your other targets factor in? Once you set the intention, you will start seeking solutions.
If you break down your diversified personal brand targets and treat it as if it were a business, you will be creating a movement and noise around who you are, and what you do, and people will begin coming to you for advice, help, and for what you bring to the table such as awareness and credibility. By breaking down these targets and understanding how each action you take contributes to the overarching result, you are doing more than just creating a social media post here and there hoping you get some likes on it. You’re not posting a selfie at the office “just because.”
Remember that not all of your targets will have direct results. Some of your actions may produce income, connections, and other outcomes down the line. Chase the Vision with Isaac Mashman Podcast is a great example of this. On top of having a podcast that I was consistently growing and promoting, I remember being asked several times to come on board social audio start-ups and virtual learning platforms because they found my show online. Joining one of the platforms indirectly led me to what was then, my largest client to date. It all factors in and like the pepper plant, the fruit came through faith and consistent actions.
Below I have included a graphic we provide for clients of Mashman Ventures titled “The Chemistry of Personal Branding.” I hope it helps you visualize and break down how everything connects.
This article was first published on Linkedin.