Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Amanda Miller Littlejohn @amandamogul.
Amanda Miller Littlejohn is a personal branding coach who helps high achievers make their ideas and their work VISIBLE in the digital age. She’s the founder of Package Your Genius Academy, and the author of Package Your Genius: 5 Steps to Build Your Most Powerful Personal Brand.
SmallBizLady: You wrote a book called Package Your Genius – what does it mean to Package Your Genius?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Package your genius is my way of capturing the act of getting intentional about how you will use your skills, gifts and talents in your lifetime. This means monetizing what they know through the creation of a product or service, writing a book to package all of the knowledge and expertise they’ve amassed over their career, delivering a presentation, pitching a business idea or writing an op ed. Basically it’s any act that takes your life-changing ideas and knowledge out of your head and puts them in a format so that others may benefit.
SmallBizLady: What exactly is a personal brand, for someone who is unfamiliar with the term, and where do you establish one? Online? In person? Or a combination of the two?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Your personal brand is what others think of you. It’s what people know about your capabilities whether or not you are available to provide that information yourself. It is a mix of how you come across in person, your reputation, but mostly what others would say about you to those who may be looking for someone who does what you do. You may think about what you stand for, if you’re trustworthy, reliable, creative, but your personal brand is also what you can be depended on for. So it’s your job to live up to your values and also communicate what you can do for others.
SmallBizLady: In Package Your Genius you say there are 5 Steps to Build One’s Most Powerful Personal Brand. Can you give us an overview of the 5 steps?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Sure. There are 5 steps to this process and they are as follows: 1) Get clear on your brand. 2) Make the case (for yourself and your work). 3) Define your big ideas. 4) Make yourself visible. and 5) Sell yourself.
SmallBizLady: You say the first step is to get clear on your brand. Why is this so important?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Before you begin building your personal brand it’s essential to get clarity on your skills, the value you are already providing to your community and your clients or your employer. You then can accurately portray those values and skills and begin to talk about them in person and online. If you aren’t clear on your brand you may end up attracting opportunities that are not the best fit, or worse, you may end up not attracting any opportunities at all.
SmallBizLady: Step 2 is to make the case. What does that mean and how do we do it?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: After you get clear on your brand, you want to begin to catalog your past wins and accomplishments online, and a great place to do that it’s on your Linkedin profile. But even if you don’t update your LinkedIn profile, having an awareness of your past results and even case studies from your work is great to have when pitching yourself for a new job or to a new client. Prior to any meeting with a potential client or business partner, you are most likely going to do a search on them, and the same is happening for the other person. So if you have a client meeting, know that you are being judged before you come in for that in person meeting.
SmallBizLady: Step 3 in your process is to Define Your Big Ideas. What do you consider to be Big Ideas and why are they important to a personal brand?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Sharing thoughtful and helpful information and even creating your own content that speaks to the problems you solve in your industry or for your customer is a great way to start to gain control of the narrative that already exists about you online. You are engaging in an offensive personal brand strategy by making sure that the picture that you want portrayed of yourself is out there. This also applies to people who are trying to get to the next level in their career because having certain things out there about you online can help your perception as a leader among your existing colleagues.
SmallBizLady: Step four in your process is to make yourself visible. What does that mean for small business owners? Where do they start in the process?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Once you’ve defined your big ideas and have a clear message, you want to find ways to broadcast yourself and get in front of groups of people with your message and your personal brand. You can do this through public speaking, media interviews, social media, writing a book, and networking strategically. But the idea is to take the conversations from those one on one interactions to a one to many approach where you have access to more people at one time so you can achieve scale with your personal brand.
SmallBizLady: The fifth and final step in your process is to sell yourself. What do you mean by selling yourself? Why is this piece so important?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Selling yourself is really important when you’re meeting with new clients. The same way you wouldn’t expect customers to buy your products or services without engaging in some kind of sales activity, it will be difficult to land new opportunities for your personal brand if you aren’t actively engaging in “opportunity development”. This means that you’re out generating new opportunities for exposure, you’re pitching yourself to the media, you’re following up on leads to speak, you’re networking with publishers and editors to get your ideas out there – you’re being intentional.
SmallBizLady: What are some ways people can take the first step in this framework?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: Get clear by attending a personal branding workshop, working with a career coach or personal branding counselor like me, engaging in any number of the online personal branding tools, workbooks and programs or starting your own process of inquiry to figure out what you’re most passionate about, where you’ve gotten the best results in the past, and how you can begin to to share those results in order to attract new opportunities in the same vein.
SmallBizLady: What are some of the pitfalls you’ve seen that keeps small business owners from getting out of the gate with all of this?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn: The biggest pitfalls that hinder small business owners who want to package their genius are imposter syndrome and comparison. They get in their heads and talk themselves out of sharing their genius ideas. They convince themselves that what they’ve done isn’t noteworthy. They tell themselves that their ideas have already been done, or they compare themselves to peers online who have bigger platforms. Remember that no one else on earth has their exact combination of skills, talents, story and experience. Even though you may offer a similar service as someone else, your personal story and experiences will resonate differently with the audience that needs what you have to share.
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