It’s probably a pretty common scene. A millenial aged guy, standing in front of 25 senior executives in our workshop space, running a seminar on how to build their personal brand online. I cut the quintessential ‘digital marketer’ stereotype – Converse’s, rolled up jeans, half an excuse of a beard and a mustard checkered shirt.
The room was filled with incredibly intelligent individuals. CIOs, CTOs, Programme Directors, Transformation Directors, Engineering Leads and Agile specialists. All of which have transformed some of the biggest companies in the world, built technology platforms from scratch, engaged teams around the globe and provided advice to multinational boards.
There was an incredibly diverse set of knowledge and skills in the room, but one thing bound all of them – they had a fear of sharing their knowledge online.
Here’s what they said:
I must stress; none of the above is unwarranted – these are all legitimate fears that we all have varying degrees of.
When I was first hired by S&S founder Pat Lynes in the summer of 2016 to build both the company’s and Pat’s personal brand, you may not have found a more reluctant person than Pat in front of the camera. It took months of reverse mentoring and coaching to get Pat comfortable sharing his knowledge and our story in front of my lens. But, it wasn’t just the sheer practice and repetition that got Pat to now wondering when our next studio session is. He understood the importance of sharing content and ideas online with the world.
The fears listed by the executives aren’t rare. Many don’t think they have anything of value to share, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They are also worried about negative feedback and maybe the potential legacy of getting something wrong and it being online forever.
So to address these, I took them through the 3 C’s: Community, Content and Courage.
It’s pretty widely known that video content is king. By 2020, it is said that 82% of all traffic consumed on the internet will be video. Video has been a core part of S&S’ storytelling in creating an authentic and human feel about our brand that is tough to replicate otherwise.
And the barriers to entry have never been smaller.
We all have a very high-quality video camera in our pocket and that’s more than an adequate place to begin. You could simply film yourself talking about a part of your skills toolbelt that you feel most comfortable. Give your top 3 tips to do x. Tell a story about how you overcame a difficult problem. Provide insight into a relevant current affair or market trend. The ideas are endless.
If video is a bit scary to begin with, why not kick off with a blog? They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be consistent. My advice is to get down 10 draft micro-blogs and then release them weekly on LinkedIn as native content, tinkering as you go. Titles that begin with a question or a top 5/7/9 list always get clicked on.
And then once you get really advanced, you can dive into the world of podcasting, which has exploded onto the scene in the last few years. While the gear and setup require some investment and knowledge, once you’re set up they are incredibly easy to pump out.
As for the medium, LinkedIn has recently become more than just a jobs board. There is a lot of rich content now being posted now, but it is far from being saturated. The void that sits on that platform could be yours to fill.
At S&S we pride ourselves on the communities of experts we’ve curated and nurtured. As one of our Partners Adrian Stalham recently said about these communities, “they are the essence of S&S.”
Whether it’s obvious or not, you are part of a community or network. You have people in the same city (or not) that specialise in the same areas that you do. Through LinkedIn, our network The Change Society or physical meetups, you share mountains of knowledge with each other (but a lot is still withheld).
Our richest event experiences are when our experts are being really honest with one another and sharing the stories, as well as showing the scars that each have endured in their careers. This is a huge accelerator for learning.
Like open-source does for the sharing of code, why couldn’t we open up these stories to a wider audience externally to help make everyone a bit better? Innovation moves a lot quicker when knowledge is shared.
Step 1: just start.
We’ve covered the fears that stop people sharing, but they are all more than outweighed by the positives. Become a thought-leader, a key person of influence and develop clout in your field. If your content is good enough, you should be sparking debate and therefore differing opinions (that’s the point of social media).
Learn to ride the bumps of the odd negative comment and be spurred on by the encouragement of a great post by people in your network. Share your personal stories and learning (nobody can copy that) and it won’t only do wonders for your personal brand, it will also inspire and inform others.
If you’d like to have a chat (or some encouragement!) about your personal brand, please ping me a messageand I’d be happy to help.