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How I Overcame My Discomfort with Personal Branding

by Career Management, LinkedIn Marketing, Thought Starters

Are you an entrepreneur feeling unsure about how to develop your personal brand for your small business? You’re not alone.  In this article you will learn about how I overcame my discomfort with personal branding and how it’s transformed my approach to connecting with my audience.

If you’re running a small business or considering starting one, you’ve likely heard advice about investing in professional photography. While it might seem straightforward, it often thrusts you into the unfamiliar territory of personal branding. Suddenly, you’re not just thinking about what to wear for these photos; you’re considering how they represent your business, your values, and your unique perspective.

If the idea of personal branding makes you uneasy, rest assured, many entrepreneurs grapple with this concept. Through my own journey and working with clients, I’ve learned that embracing personal branding is akin to embracing yourself fully—flaws and all. It’s an emotional journey, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

The biggest obstacle to unleashing our full potential is often our own self-doubt—the nagging voice that whispers, “You’re not enough.” But the truth is, you are. And the best time to start embracing your personal brand is now, not tomorrow or after some arbitrary milestone.

Developing your personal brand is a powerful tool for achieving your professional goals. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about how you show up in the world, the value you offer, and the impact you want to make.

How I Overcame My Discomfort with Personal Branding

Embracing personal branding wasn’t easy for me. It required stepping out of my comfort zone and seeking help from experts in photography and styling. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of aligning my professional goals with my online presence, crafting narratives that resonate with my audience, and provide recommendations for how to navigate their current challenges and opportunities.

So, how did I overcome my discomfort with personal branding? I recognised its potential to reach a broader audience and share my insights with those who could benefit from them. Personal branding isn’t just about self-promotion; it’s about sharing your expertise and connecting with like-minded individuals. I realised that personal branding goes beyond surface-level appearances. It’s about defining what you stand for, aligning your online presence with your professional goals, and authentically engaging with your community. I sought help when needed. Whether it was hiring a personal branding photographer or consulting with a stylist, I recognised that building a personal brand is a journey that often requires support from others.

Personal branding goes beyond surface-level appearances. It’s about defining what you stand for, aligning your online presence with your professional goals, and authentically engaging with your community. I sought help when needed. Whether it was hiring a personal branding photographer or consulting with a stylist, I recognised that building a personal brand is a journey that often requires support from others.

Journal Prompts to Consider

Developing your personal brand is an ongoing process – one that evolves as you grow and learn more about yourself. By aligning your professional goals with your online presence, crafting authentic narratives, and solving real problems for your audience, you can establish a personal brand that resonates and drives your business forward. Take the next step by acknowledging and being curious about the discomfort you may be feeling. Answering these questions is a helpful way to start thinking about how to build the persona brand that represents the best version of yourself and your business.

  • What makes you feel uncomfortable about personal branding?
  • What are your values and how does this relate to your career?
  • What are your short and medium term professional goals?
  • What expertise would you like to share with others?
  • Who do you identify as like-minded individuals?
  • What in real life or online forums can you attend with these types of people?

I personally love and recommend One Roof for small business owners.

Develop a Personal Branding Strategy

Crafting a personal brand requires more than just an ad hoc approach—it demands a well-thought-out strategy. Once you’ve delved into the various factors shaping your brand, you must assess your commitment to maintaining a cohesive online presence anchored in a strategic content framework. This entails understanding the communities you aim to serve and identifying aspects of your personality that resonate with them and align with your comfort level in sharing.

Here’s an example. A colleague admiring my personal reflections in a a piece I wrote here on Think Bespoke’s knowledge base prompted me to explore this aspect further. it encouraged my Thought Starter category of blog articles. These types of reflections, stemming from how I process experiences, not only serve my own growth but also strike a chord with my audience. It’s also help me attract quieter and thoughtful folk. Individuals who, like me, identify as ambiverts and find self promotion uncomfortable.

Developing my personal brand has been facilitated by the disciplined practice of crafting narratives through regular blog posts here on Think Bespoke’s knowledge base. By sharing insights within my area of expertise on LinkedIn and via my monthly newsletter, I’ve become many people’s ‘go to’ for LinkedIn. Central to my brand is my expertise in leveraging LinkedIn and my emphasis on relationship-building over transaction-chasing.

Journal Prompts to Consider

Your approach will be unique, and clear to you only when you’ve thought through your strategy based on your professional objectives. Remember, this isn’t a game—it’s your career and business, and prioritising yourself is important! Being clean about who you are and what you stand for is important in how you shop up in your business and will help you attract the kind of clients you enjoy working with. And when you deliver great results for your clients, they will tell their friends about the experience!

  • What do you want to be known for in terms of your expertise?
  • What do you want to be known for in terms of your professional approach? e.g. helpful, expert, etc
  • What is your detailed client avatar / persona? 
  • What are the topic areas you assist your clients with?
  • What are your perspectives on particular industry topics that interest current and potential clients?
  • What other topics or issues do you care about that is/are relevant to your ideal client, and that you want to commentate on?

Taking Risks with Your Personal Brand

While most of my articles focus on offering practical value in LinkedIn, Personal Branding, and Content Marketing realms, my thought starters (like this one) are more introspective pieces, step beyond my comfort zone to provoke deeper thoughts and discussions. Delving into topics like dementia, navigating personal struggles, and exploring my identity as an Australian has its challenges, particularly in confronting the fear of judgment. Striking a balance between asserting my convictions and maintaining approachability is at the heart of personal branding. It’s conceivable that a robust personal brand might alienate certain segments. This ongoing journey underscores the iterative nature of personal branding—a continuous process of refinement and adaptation.

If the concept seems abstract or elusive, I invite you to peruse the articles in the Thought Starters category, which delve into more contemplative perspectives beyond the usual ‘How To’ guides, offering a glimpse into the depth of my insights and convictions. These articles will give you a taste of what ‘just begin’ means and how to get more comfortable with ‘putting yourself out there’. After all, everything is sweetened by risk. A calculated one, of course.  Writing in this way can deeply connect you with your readers. I’ve enjoyed some wonderful conversations with clients and potential clients who’ve read these pieces. It’s helped us get to know each other quicker and helped them decide if I am for them! And this is a key benefit of cultivating your personal brand – helping potential clients or employers decide if you are ‘for them’ and reducing risk as they evaluate your suitability as a service provider or employee.

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand Online

In 5 Steps for Building Your Personal Brand Online I share my chance encounter over dinner with a professional photographer in my network I decided to invest my energies in developing a series of photography that would better showcase, me, my services and approach. It was uncomfortable, but I’m really happy with the results.

In this behind the scenes branding photo shoot video by Fi Mims she describes how she led me through this experience. This was taken on the day of the branding shoot. Note how uncomfortable I seem at the start of the day and my relief and happiness at the end! I’m glad I did this and encourage you to do the same.

Thought Starters to Help You Begin with Personal Branding

Do you write in a journal? I hope you do, because it’s a great way to help identify and write down the emotions you may be feeling about personal branding and what this means for you. To help you get started, here are some prompts for you to consider.

  1. What are you known for?
  2. How do people describe you when you’re not in the room?
  3. Your answers to these two questions are a strong indicator of your personal brand.
Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

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