If there’s one lesson/opportunity when it comes to developing your personal brand, it is to make everything about the people you are connecting to and not about yourself.
In re-reading that first sentence, it’s easy to see the true paradox of developing your personal brand. In the end, it’s not about you, but rather what you do for others that will really help you build, share, grow and learn. It’s a common mis-step to make. All too often people concentrating on developing their personal brand (or reputation, or whatever you want to call it) make it all about themselves. They focus on who they know and what they can extract from those people to accomplish their own personal goals or to help them achieve.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Just today, I attended Brand Camp University in Detroit, Michigan, and if one message rang true throughout the speakers and attendees I connected with, it was that all of them were interested in building their personal brands by trying to make their community a better place. Detroit is definitely a city in the middle of huge transition. The founder of Brand Camp University, Hajj Flemings, explained that he wanted to create this event because the city "needs" an event like this. Flemings understands that there will be no strong businesses in Detroit without a strong community, but more importantly, he knows that this strong community is not going to happen just because a couple of big companies employ a lot of people. It’s going to take many strong individuals who have the foresight to develop their personal brands and work with one another to rise above this challenge.
Personal Branding is not about me. Personal Branding is not about you. Personal Branding is about us.
The real benefits of personal branding flourish when like-minded individuals have a place to congregate. The amazing thing is that we don’t need a physical location anymore for this to happen (although nothing beats real-life meet-ups – like Brand Camp). That’s the true power of the online channels and the many online social networks that we all propagate. Suddenly, like-minded individuals can socialize, share and connect. In doing so, they can bring real change to their physical communities as well. The trick is in not being selfish. The trick is in not making it all about you (as an individual). The trick is to give abundantly and expect nothing in return.
Do all of this with all of your heart.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, whatever. If you are creating and publishing content with the sole intent of growing your business or your personal brand, do it with the mindset of it not being "all about me" but rather, "it’s all about you." Real thought leadership and guru-status is attained when others describe you as such. The only way to do get their attention is to make everything you do about them, valuable and relevant to the community at large.
It’s a tall order. It’s also why so many companies struggle and grapple with these channels on an ongoing basis.