One of the biggest misconceptions about personal branding is that it’s only for extroverts – that you need to get your energy from others, not from within, if you want to be successful at personal branding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Having worked with thousands of professionals on their personal brands, I can say with experience that strong brands are as common among introverts as they are with extroverts. The difference is not levels of successful branding; it’s in how these different types of people go about achieving equally high levels of success in building their brands. If you’re an introvert, use some of these seven ways to build a strong, enviable brand – without feeling any need to make yourself the gregarious life of the party. Better yet, in the digital age it’s never been easier to deliver your brand message without having to pack your calendar with face-to-face activities.
1. Build your brand in bits and bytes. Helping executives master social media is one of the most popular topics in my keynote talks. It’s the best tool for personal branding – and it’s perfect for introverts. Social media is the opposite of being at a large professional association meeting or delivering a presentation to an audience of fifty people whose eyes are focused on you. With social media, you can control where, when and how often you communicate, and you can use the tools that you enjoy. And despite social media’s reputation for mass participation, you can reach out individually to the people you want to stay in touch with – affording you a better opportunity to build deep, enduring relationships.
2. Let others do the talking for you. Don’t toot your own horn: let others tout your brilliance! If it feels uncomfortable to overtly highlight your accolades, solicit the assistance of your existing fans. They’ll be happy to do it for you. Their contributions will come in the form of testimonials and recommendations. They’ll also show up in your online communications in the form of social proof. This means that when you produce great content that yields lots of likes, comments and shares, you’re showing the world that what you create is valuable, but you won’t have to say a word about it yourself.
3. Have a trusted, extroverted advisor. When you have an extroverted mentor who is securely in your corner, she’ll make sure you’re aware of opportunities so that you can be selective about how to invest your time and energy. The best mentors will also nudge you when it’s time to get out of your comfort zone so you can engage in important brand-building activities. This kind of support is invaluable because it helps boost your confidence, not just your resume.
4. Be selectively famous. This one is tied to a myth that has irked me ever since I became a pioneer in personal branding. Successful branding is not measured by the number of people you know. It’s not about winning a popularity contest, either. Instead, it’s all about focus. Only the people who can help you reach your career goals and those you seek to support need remain in your purview. That gives you an opportunity to build deeper relationships with a smaller number of people – people who count.
5. Avoid public speaking. I’ve delivered hundreds of public speaking events. That’s both how I earn my living and my most important personal branding activity. But it’s not the only way to amp up your visibility. In fact, you can build a highly effective personal brand without ever doing any public speaking. Public speaking is ahead of the fear of death in the list of fear-inducing experiences – and that fear is not just for introverts. However, if you are an introvert and experience the energy drain that can come from speaking to a crowd of people, don’t force yourself to speak.
Instead, get your message across through video. As an active promoter of the fantastic new digital branding tools emerging every day, I can reassure you that video lets you deliver the more powerful part of public speaking: the delivery of a complete communication. With written materials, all you have is words. Public speaking, on the other hand, allows you to add body language and tone of voice to words – making your communication clearer and compelling. Video affords you those same advantages. Of course, it requires getting comfortable in front of a camera. Many of us feel awkward at first staring into a camera lens. But like with most things, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become. So give yourself a dress rehearsal, and then make video one of your primary communications tools. Video gives you some added benefits over written communications. It’s more Google friendly – often getting higher rankings than the same content in text form. It’s more engaging than text. And it’s flexible.
6. Brand your environment. Let your environment do the talking for you. Rather than telling people what you’re passionate about or trying to artfully announce the fact that you’ve received an award for your leadership, surround yourself with the material things that communicate this information: trophies, certificates, framed photographs, souvenirs. Then, when people enter your brand environment, it becomes instantly clear to them what you’re all about, without your having to say a word. And remember to brand what’s behind you when you’re on a video teleconference too so those who aren’t co-located with you can get a sense of what your priorities are and what separates you from the pack.
7. Give. Effective personal branding is not about you. It’s about the value you deliver to others. So sharing your knowledge, point of view, and expressing gratitude are great ways to build your brand from the angle of generosity – no chest-pounding required. Get in the habit of acknowledging others in meetings, sharing your knowledge and expertise with colleagues and leaders and supporting others when they need it. You’ll be able to showcase your expertise while demonstrating that you’re a caring, giving leader. Your generosity speaks volumes.