How to Get to the Heart of Your Personal Brand (and Sell Your Unique Expertise with Soul)

by | Leveraging LinkedIn, Personal Branding, Real Talk

If you’re struggling to connect with your audience, you may also be struggling to find your voice. This is hard because then it becomes easy to miss opportunities to communicate what makes you different from the next person in your industry online.

And instead of sounding like the unique expert that you are, your message lands like generic chocolate chip cookies next to a bag of Chips Ahoy!.

No matter what stage you are in your business, communicating your unique value is an ongoing process, and it includes reinforcing your brand story over and over again like how we all knew Celine Dion’s’ heart would go on when the movie Titanic was out in the 90s (Damn you Rose for letting go of Jack!).

Since I think we can all agree that lurking on LinkedIn hoping clients will find you is not a good networking strategy, let’s focus on how to get your unique and compelling message “out there.” Because this is where your personal brand comes into play.

It’s what attracts your ideal clients to you as a human. And it should be the heart of your content on LinkedIn because the core of your presence should be your unique personality if you want to stand out not just your skills.

So, how do you use your personal brand to attract the people you want to connect with? By being yourself aka “authentic”. (Yup, I went there with the buzzword.)

Authenticity Will Never Go Out Of Style

I know the word “authentic” is all the buzz still, but there’s something to it as simple and cliché as it sounds. After all, it’s been the key to success since kindergarten when you got awarded for being a genuine kid all the teachers and students liked.

When it comes to business, we want to attract clients who like us for who we are, not who we’re pretending to be.

If you imitate your favorite entrepreneur or the “cool kids,” it won’t take you far because you’re like fake Chips Ahoy! cookies.

We’ve all been there where we’ll admire someone who appears to effortlessly sell and write, and it’s like, “Ooh, I want to be like her!” Then you go on the path to “find” your voice and think it’s lost or broken because it doesn’t sound as natural as said person you admire.

This is where imposter syndrome rears its ugly head. But you don’t have to give it power over your next steps. Instead of manufacturing ways to appear likable, BE likable and align your natural way of sharing your expertise with ways to connect with your target audience.

How do you do that? Start with the following steps:

Step 1: Write down four personal brand attributes (personality traits) that you think are your strongest. You want to think about traits that make you stand out from other people.

Step 2: Look at what past clients have said they love most about working with you. This is important because it can reveal your “special sauce” to helping people get results.

Step 3: Ask your friends and family what they think are your most compelling traits. This’ll help you see if there’s a disconnect from who you are with people who know you versus people who you’re getting to know. Obviously, there will be differences, but see if you’re holding back traits that would make you communicate in a more carefree manner.

Step 4: Reconcile this feedback with your brand messaging and positioning. Evaluate your findings to see if there are any tweaks you can make to fuse your personality and expertise into your marketing strategy so that you have a more magnetic (and profitable!) presence.

You can use this information to define your brand voice and share captivating stories that are true to your personal brand and business objectives—this is what will attract your ideal opportunities, whether it’s more clients, podcast invitations, or media features.

Don’t Throw Out Your Past With The Bath Water

Now, what if you don’t think there’s anything special about your story? I would say this: Dig deeper.

Usually, there’s a series of events that led you to where you are today. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who will say there’s nothing “special” about their story. But then as we talk, I discover they were former lawyers, nurses, phycologists, assistants, teachers, or almost-Olympians with FASCINATING stories.

I bet there is something different about your path that is absolutely interesting to someone else but you overlook.

For example, I started my career in corporate as a technical writer and trainer over 15 years ago and still pull from experiences in my past. While on the surface it sounds pretty basic, I worked for a variety of Fortune 500 companies.

My path to entrepreneurship might as well have been lined with Legos and not always filled with the best experiences. But those experiences gave me plenty of stories to tell and lessons to share.

In fact, in 2017, I wrote my first book From Nine to Thrive, which is a compilation of lessons from my past experiences just as it is a personal branding guide. It still sells consistently to this day.

So, you see, YOUR past can also be an important part of your brand story today.

Pull from your wins, losses, and struggles. Use them to show why you’re an expert in your industry. Use these stories to share your brand story and connect with people who are going through the same thing and need your solutions. Your past is also a way to show that you’re not trying to fake perfection and show that you’re human too.

Making It All Add Up

Ultimately, when your “people” (aka target audience) find you, they should stalk you and immediately feel like they’ve found someone they want to know more about.

They should bookmark your website, subscribe to your email list, send you a LinkedIn message, and eagerly take out their credit card to buy whatever it is you’re selling because they trust your expertise.

So, really, it all comes down to how effective you are with getting your unique message in front of the right people.

Is your voice engraved in your LinkedIn posts, website copy, About page, and digital presence like the initials of childhood sweethearts carved into a tree?

As you think about the best ways to connect with your audience, remember this: Behind every successful brand is heart and soul.

Your “story” is the heart. Your “message” is the soul. No matter what you do, make sure there’s a place for both in your digital presence.

Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.

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