Self-belief is the biggest inhibitor to building a personal brand

by Andrea Edwards

I need to talk about this because it comes up every time I run a training session with business professionals, or in 1-2-1 conversations with senior executives. When discussing the core success strategies behind building a great personal brand, this sentiment is always expressed…

Why would anyone care what I have to say? I mean it’s all been said before, so why is my perspective any different and therefore, valuable?

My first reaction is always good! You’re appreciating that to build a strong brand, it has to be valuable to your audience. This is a great place to begin because you’re not asking what’s in it for me (which means you’ll just be adding to the noise), instead you appreciate it’s about delivering value to your community.

Once we’re clear on that, the next topic is how you must believe in yourself, as well as believe that you have a unique perspective to offer. This is often the hardest step to take in developing a personal brand.

Whether you decide to blog or just share great content aligned to what you believe in, building a strong personal brand that is focused on delivering value, starts with self-belief. You’ll know you get there when people start valuing what you contributed, because you shared it and you are trusted.

Using myself as a case study. I started in content marketing and personal branding almost a decade ago, and have been in the communications game for more than 20 years. The opportunity to share what I believe in and to drive others to what I consider useful information, came completely naturally to me. I have been sharing information for years. Heck I remember faxing articles to friends because I thought they’d enjoy them!  

However, it has never been easy. I have often pressed publish and sat there squirming with anxiety, hoping that what I’ve shared would be valued and appreciated. I mean, what if everyone disagreed with me? Or worse, thought I was an idiot?

Starting this journey is really really hard, but it does get easier, as you get more confident in your online voice. However, no matter what level you are, it’s still hard – even C-suite execs find it hard.

Why is it so hard?

Because you have to be vulnerable to embrace this opportunity, and not everyone wants to be vulnerable. But it is when you offer yourself to the world in your truest form that the magic happens.

The truth is, we don’t know everything there is to know, and we shouldn’t claim to either. That’s why we’ve got to be humble in this game. Whatever we offer is only our own opinion, based on our own experiences, and we have to honour our experiences, while keeping it open that we may be wrong or misguided in any presumptions we have. But that’s OK too.

Because over the years, what I’ve really come to value is people asking me questions, challenging my ideas, or starting conversations within my communities because of what I’ve shared. Conversations is what today is all about, and it is the gift you get in return for building a personal brand. You get to learn from others.

Due to my experiences – where I have gained so much – I really want to encourage everyone to embrace the amazing opportunity we have today – and that is to build a strong voice on social media, a voice that reflects who you are and what you believe in. Make a commitment to yourself to build a powerhouse personal brand that is meaningful, authentic and brings value to other people’s lives.

That is how you succeed here, because it’s about your audience, not you.

  • So yes, please believe me, we all have something valuable to say
  • We’ve all had experiences that have taught us something
  • We’ve all lived through different times or experienced radical transformations and have a unique perspective on what that was like
  • We all look at the future and interpret it in different ways
  • We all experience living and working in different cultures and have a unique perspective in translating that within a global context
  • We are all trying to make sense of the world we live in – one that is changing and evolving at an unprecedented pace

Remember, no one has your perspective or experience. No one sees the world the way you do. No one has walked in your shoes and experienced your life. Only you can claim that. Only you can claim the knowledge you’ve gained through the experiences you’ve had.

And these experiences aren’t just work. It’s about being part of our collective humanity and what that means to us. We are not in any other business than the business of being human. People are at the end of every transaction after all. And isn’t it great that we can be people today. The whole person. That is what this time is about. Awesome right?

So bringing together your professional experiences and your personal experiences is how you really start to build an amazing personal brand. That’s how you start from a place of meaning. Believing that this is something valuable is the next step, and I hope you believe that you do have something valuable to offer.

My advice is go for it! Make the world a better place by sharing your thoughts and always remember to lift those around you while you’re doing it. Join the Giving Economy.

In fact, did you see Chris J. Reed’s blog this week How international brands can market locally (and cannot lah)? He really gave me something. Greater awareness for my new business. He didn’t have to do it, but he decided to give me a leg up, and with more than 50,000 followers on LinkedIn, that’s a fairly hefty leg up. He’s part of the Giving Economy, and that’s what it’s all about. Thanks Chris.

To provide a little help, I recently presented this deck at the Accenture International Women’s Day event in Singapore. See if it helps you gain some clarity on what you want to be known for? That’s always the best place to start building your personal brand. The next stage is self-belief. I know. It’s not always easy.

Just focus on what matters. Give it meaning. Give it heart. Give it your voice. You can’t lose.

What do you think? Anything you’d add? Or perhaps you disagree? Let me know.


Andrea Edwards

The Digital Conversationalist

Do something today image, courtesy of Shutterstock.

Feel free to follow me on LinkedInTwitter or on Facebook. My blog and Website is here. Thanks for reading.

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