The buzzword of today’s marketer.
If you follow and subscribe to entrepreneurs, marketing gurus and branding experts like I do, you’re likely seeing that word multiple times a day. It’s something that everyone is seemingly after.
But when it comes to personal branding, the name of the game is and always will be authenticity. Period.
Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword or a nice-to-have. It’s a non-negotiable.
It’s the expectation of your clients, teams, prospects and the media.
The headline here is that leaders who show up authentically are the ones who win. It’s not a secret. It’s a strategy. And, frankly, it’s simply the expectation in today’s market.
Let’s take it back a bit.
The year 2020 was a massive interruption—the pandemic rocked not only all of our lives, both personally and professionally, but it also upended the social and political ecosystem that we all knew. Now, two years later, people are aligning to products, services, brands and people who align with their values. Or who, at very least, have an honest and authentic opinion and aren’t afraid to share it.
Operative phrase: aren’t afraid to share it.
Leaders of companies, big and small, need to show up not only with purpose and impact, but with humility and vulnerability (read: authenticity). But those who are really, truly walking their walk, doing the things, can only be seen and known for what they do if they have the brand and platform to support them.
Telling your story actively, consistently and consciously online is, again, your best strategy. This is how you stand out and ultimately how you can more seamlessly drive your business objectives forward.
Most leaders have similar or like-minded business objectives. For instance: to sell their products or services to the right clients, to attract top talent and to be noted in the media as a leader in their industry.
And the best spokesperson and driving force behind those goals is you: The leader. The face. The founder.
It’s lonely at the top.
No bones about it: this work is hard. And this fact is why companies like SimplyBe. Agency exist.
Not only is it hard to grow your platform from an executional standpoint—might I recommend a team to support the actual, physical work—but, from a mental and emotional standpoint, as they say, it’s lonely at the top.
Because it is.
Very few people sign up to be leaders. That’s why there’s one CEO in a crowd of however many other folks it takes to run your company.
Now, I can say this, because I am a leader myself, but it takes a bit of lunacy to be a leader. The way to safeguard yourself from going absolutely crazy is by finding others like you and by being in community with them.
You’ve gotta find your people: like-minded leaders, thought partners and peers, that can help bolster your platform’s awareness as well as serve as mental and emotional support.
This past February, I was joined by some of my own peers and thought partners, Alli Webb and Adrian Koehler. We hosted The Impact Series Nashville, a weekend-long business mastermind unlike any other. We had the honor of guiding an exclusive group of entrepreneurs through our own winning practices, success principles and personal tools.
I live for events like this. These events are containers that provide community and support for the participants, of course, but they fill my cup as well even as a host. It’s events and moments like these that help even leaders like us become more of who we are ultimately meant to be in the world.
It flows both ways, and I firmly believe that we teach what we are here to learn.
Use your voice for good.
Ok, let’s check in.
You know this work is important, you know authenticity is the best strategy, you’ve got your own community behind you… now what?
It’s about taking your message to market and clarifying not just what you want to do this year in 2022, but, frankly, the legacy you want to leave when you die.
I’ve recently learned about the efforts of Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO of Chobani. As a refugee advocate, this is a leader who is putting his money where his mouth is.
“Since August , tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have arrived in America, and last week, Ulukaya—arguably the business world’s most outspoken refugee advocate—launched a brand-new initiative, the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, to help resettle them, just as their arrival is becoming more politically fraught.”
Source: Fast Company
Hamdi is giving otherwise unsettled individuals opportunity and the means to carve out their place in the world, on their own terms. He’s placed a stake in the ground about a cause that he cares about and is set on using his platform for change. For good.
But you don’t have to be the CEO of Chobani to do that. Everyone has the power to make change. This is what the world is asking for and expecting of its leaders.
If you don’t show up online with clear integrity and purpose, you’re going to get left behind.
This work doesn’t just span externally.
In light of the Great Resignation, people are less committed to staying in one place forever. They say that people don’t leave companies—people leave people. So this work is also about positioning yourself internally to your team (this is where the rubber meets the road on “authenticity”) as someone that people can get behind.
Be the kind of person that people are going to want to stick with and be loyal to. Be the kind of person that people want to be associated with. And be who you say you are.
So why does every leader need a personal brand in 2022?
Personal branding is about everyone you touch. Your employees, the press, your Linkedin or Instagram followers, subscribers, folks who attend your speaking engagements… everyone. Don’t take for granted the reach and the impact that you have.
Because the world has changed. Inauthenticity is no longer an option—the world can smell it from a mile away.
Consider this sage advice for business as much as for life. Because when it comes to the authentic intersection of both, personal brands are the future.