The 7 Elements of a Strong Personal Brand

Feel free to use the google anytime on this topic, but these 7 elements stand out to me as foundational truths required to build a strong personal brand.

In this Edition of LiveTime with Alec:

  • The key foundations for your personal brand
  • How these elements can help motivate your content
  • What is differentiates you
  • How are you using the tools in your pocket to its fullest extent

Episode Transcribe

What’s up, everybody?

Welcome. Hi, we’re going live again, once a week.

But man, I’m talking about some fun stuff today. I’m really excited to have you guys join us. Thank you for guys on LinkedIn. What’s up telling my friends on Facebook. Drop a comment. Let me know what’s up, where you’re at. How are you doing today? I love the chance to talk to you as we talk about branding. And I want to set the stage real quick. For those of you that don’t know, these things also are live across multiple platforms, but they also get recorded on my YouTube channel and we’re live there too, so that we can always go back and revisit it if it’s something that adds value to your life. On the topic of branding today, man, it’s such a non negotiable and I want to kind of break down why I feel that way.And then kind of go into what I found to be the seven crucial elements of a successful personal brand. And let’s just kind of unpack why we need those for a second. First, it should be self evident, but if you are in kind of referral-based sales or any kind of service oriented sales and your job … Hey, good morning, Melissa. Good morning, Dottie … and your job is to generate business and opportunity for yourself, you have to have a brand. Now a great company brand will absolutely support and affirm stand up your personal brand. I think they actually are a one-two punch combo, but we can go into that later. On the branding side, though, on the personal branding side, it is so crucial. And here’s two examples. If you are in referral-based sales and you grow your business through community and partnerships, someone’s going to refer you a customer.And it’s really simple in the mortgage space because that’s kind of how we’ve raised to get business, from our real estate partners and our home builder partners. They’re going to Google you. They’re going to look you up and they’re going to make a judgment on you based on the brand that shows up online. Now they got some good referral from you, right? Somebody said, you’re amazing at what you do, but now they’re going to look it up and see if it’s true. And you got an AB test, right? You got one guy or gal who, when they get Googled, they show up with five star reviews, 700 Yelp reviews. They look incredible, great headshot. There’s a video right there that pops up for seven tricks and tips for first-time home buyers. And it’s all there. The next person that they Google and look up and nothing shows up, or somebody else shows up who you have the same name as. Hi, Tammy. Thanks.So that happens and that’s true. You’re losing credibility. you’re losing credibility. Yes, you could try to regain it back and talk to the customer and be like, “No, look, I’m really amazing. I promise,” but they’ve already judged you, man. They’ve already judged you. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, read it. We make snap judgements as humans. This is what we like to do. So you got to show up, you got to have a brand that represents yourself. You got to have a brand you’re proud of so that you can build more relationship and a better foundation with the customers that are looking to work with you. So we kind of covered that. So let’s go through the elements of a personal brand. And I think that as you’re looking at what content to produce, if you’re looking at how to position yourself online, first of all, the greatest advantage of the world is that your brand can be curated.You can choose what to show and what to post. This is an amazing advantage. And if you don’t like the video, you can delete it and do another one, which is another amazing advantage. So because all of this stuff’s at your fingertips, we’re going to break down the seven elements that are really, really important when you’re building stuff. All right. You with me? Give me a, “Hallelujah.” Here we go. We’ve got people on Facebook. I love it. All right.Number one, authenticity. Authenticity is arguably one of the most important foundations for a personal brand, but let’s unpack what that means because a lot of people hear that word and they’re like, “Okay. Yeah, authenticity. Thanks, Alec.” And by the way, the seven elements, I’m going to show you guys, you can Google “strong elements of a personal brand” and you’ll get tons of thought leaders, probably people smarter than me, that have spent years and years and years on this that can deliver to you like bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s part of my journey in discovering this. I did the same thing, research, understanding. The seven that I picked are ones that really resonated with me. There might be others that resonate with you. God bless.All right, authenticity. This is like a “you have it or you don’t” type of thing … Hi, Veronica. Thanks for the comment … Either you have it or you don’t. And so when you talk about authenticity, the first thing that I like to kind of follow up on is don’t hide who you really are and what you really care about. As salespeople, we’re typically pretty good at being chameleons. You feel me? Depending on what the customer wants, we kind of line up differently and we kind of listen and posture and we kind of chameleon that aspect of it. But on a brand, you can’t do that. You can’t chameleon it. And you can’t fake it. There are so many people that try to fake the success lifestyle.I’ll use a silly example. The Instagram “weblebrities.” They’re just posting pictures at the beach and they’re on the vacation, they’re leaning on a Maserati, which isn’t their car. And they’re like, “Oh, the influencer life.” That stuff is obviously posturing. We all could feel it. We’re like, “Oh,” and nobody likes an inauthentic person, when you’re looking for advice on financing or whatever solution you provide to your customers. No one wants that. So the first thing you got to ask yourself on any piece of content you do, any article you write, picture that goes out, quote, inspirational video, whatever, are you being authentic to yourself?I’ll give you another example. How many of you see people online and you’re like, “Ew. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.” Well, then I’m not going to do that because I hate people that do that online. They’re not authentic to you. Maybe they’re being authentic to themselves. But when you step out, be authentic to yourself and you’ll be shocked and surprised by how many people can resonate with that. Because, man, aren’t we over marketed too? Aren’t we hyper marketed to all the time? And isn’t it annoying because we’re just like, “Stop marketing to me. Just stop smashing me in the face with ads and banners and I’m over it. It’s not selling me.” Number one, authenticity.Number two, boom. Consistency. It’s easier to be authentic than it is to be consistent. And that is going to be hard for people to hear but consistency is crucial. Give you an example. I did a hundred videos in a hundred days. That was really hard to be consistent, to continually make a video, get it ready, post it every single day for a hundred days. It stretched me massively. But those kinds of things lead to massive results. Without my a hundred videos, I wouldn’t be going live once a week. I wouldn’t be having my Modern Lending podcast. All that stuff wouldn’t happen. So consistency drives huge results.I’ll give you another story about it. I firmly believe that in prospecting referral partners for business, there is only one thing that can lead to your success. If you’re in sales, there’s only one thing that could lead to your success. And I’ll give you the example in mortgage, in my background. When I would go talk to real estate professionals and ask them for business, they’re not going to test me to see if I’m any good, because they’re relying on me to close a loan for their customers so that they can get them into a house and they can get paid themselves. They’re not just going to be like, “Yeah, sure. I like you showed up and you had a good one-liner and I liked your flyer. Here’s the deal.” Doesn’t happen. It’s never going to happen that way.But what happens is through consistency, I can prove my worth. I can prove that I will show up for them. I can prove that I am reliable and trustworthy through consistency. I’ll give you a micro strategy that always worked well for me. And it’s a good tie in to consistency. So on Thursdays and Fridays, we would have broker preview and that means people would go and hold houses open for other real estate professionals. And so I would show up. Walking in there all pumped up, ready to go. And I always had one line that I typically would use, which is, “Hey, by the way, is this house going to be open for the general public on the weekends?” And when they would say, “What? Yeah,” or, “Why you’re asking?” Yes, I would always say, “Because I work on the weekends and I was hoping to swing by again.” “Okay, weirdo.”But subconsciously, I planted the seed that I work on weekends … “I like your flyer.” Thanks, Daniel … I subconsciously planted the reality that I work weekends. And then guess? What I would show up. Shocker. You’d show up and surprise, you’re building consistency and trust and reliability. You’re saying you’re going to do something and then you do it. So for your brand to be powerful, to have a good personal brand, you have to be consistently showing up. That means your content strategy, which is just a marketing strategy, it’s a fun word, you got to be executing. And if that’s really hard, you need help. Get accountability, get a partner, get a friend, work for me and I’ll kick your butt, and we’ll be consistent together.All right. Number three. One, two, authenticity, consistency. Number three, you, your story. Now this is different than being authentic. This is what makes you, you. These are your hardships, your tribulations, your story, this is what you have gone through in your life that makes you unique and special and best-served to showcase that to the world. It matters. I’ve hit this before on other … I almost said episodes. This is a show. That’s terrible. I know. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I’m like, “You’re blowing it.” So the story. You matter, your story matters. And it’s rocket fuel to your personal brand. Do not hide from it. There are plenty of people that are hiding from their story and either they’re embarrassed about it or they don’t think it’s good, or they think that people are going to judge them or whatever it is.But I’m telling you right now, that’s not the truth. They want to engage with your personal story. It absolutely empowers your brand because it humanizes you … And Netflix is watching. Everybody’s watching. Thanks, Tammy. I will say this … This is a show. Chaz, I appreciate you. I guess I’m a show. There you go. A dancing monkey for everybody’s enjoyment … Okay. Back on topic. Your story. So it matters. I mentioned the comment before that we were over marketed to. We are. It’s terrible. It’s a terrible experience. We don’t like it. We’re so jaded to it. We’re so bombarded with marketing. Guess what cuts through that? A human. Humanize your brand. Lean into the story, lean into the hardships you’ve had, and you will be absolutely rocked and surprised by how many people respond to that in amazing way. Your story matters. Weave it into your brand. Tell it to the world. It’s going to help build a huge foundation for your success.All right. So number one, authenticity. Number two, consistency. Number three, your story. Number four, your expertise. This is a fun one because if you’re authentic and consistent and you have a good story, but you’re not good at what you do, you’ve got a problem. So showcase and show me your expertise. I challenge people all the time on this. I’m going to use my same story I’ve used before, but it’s going to land for you so just come on the ride. If you, as a mortgage professional, want to be known and want to have a brand identity as an educator, as someone who educates their customers on all of their options and I look you up online and I see nothing that shows me that you are an educator, I don’t see you as an educator. Let’s go break it down.If you’re an educator, you should have a video series on YouTube, educating consumers about a variety of topics. You should have articles you write or blog on LinkedIn or whatever platform you want to pick and showcase your expertise. I want to see videos on my social media feed of you solving problems for your customers because of your expertise. I want to see you write articles that are out in publications, mortgage publications to showcase your expertise. “Now, Alec, this sounds hard.” Of course, I’m not saying you need to go immediately get published.But if I see a bunch of stuff online when I Google you, I’m going to respect you more, I’m going to recognize your expertise and I’ll be more attached or connected to your brand. So again, you can see these things are building on each other. You have authenticity at the foundation. Then you have consistent action. Then you’ve got your story woven into it to humanize you so you’re not just a walking billboard, slapping people in the face. And then you have your expertise on display to show everybody that you’re the five-star professional, that you are the educator, that you are the badass you claim to be.All right. Number five, visibility. Are you visible? Can I see you? You’re seeing me right now so we’ve got a brand connection. Can your customer see you? Are you connected to them? I love the past customers, as an example. Are they all connected into your social media? Do they see you often? Or are you just sending them a crappy drip campaign? You’d hear me beat that to death, but are you visible in their lives? If you’re not, your brand does not have a strong position. You will lose to Superbowl commercials and whatever else the media is pounding them on the face on. Again, this ties into consistency a little bit, but it also ties into your ability to put yourself where other people are. So now this is kind of where I make you feel uncomfortable because I’m telling you to go into different social networks and really put yourself out there because if you’re not there, you’re not visible.Let’s go one step further. Be where community and network is. Be where they are. Does that make sense? Be where they are? Good example. If you’re going to solicit real estate professionals to earn their business and referrals and their trust and their influence in their market. If you’re going to earn that, guess where you need to be? Where they are, which means weekends, open houses, work alongside them, where they work, earn their trust and be visible with them. The same part translates perfectly into social media. Man, there are so many of you out there that are just social media stalkers. Stop it. Put yourself out there. I know that you have a chance to get hurt if you do that. I know. I know. I know you have a chance to get hurt because if you’re vulnerable, then somebody else can crap on you. And I’ll give you an example. I did my podcast.I’m proud of it, man. I got two episodes out. I’m dropping them every two weeks so I can kind of pace myself out. Otherwise, I would just produce them all and then I’ll be out. And I like to slow play it. And the second I posted episode zero, which is just a foundational conversation about why I’m doing the podcast, I got a one star. Come on. You haven’t even seen what I’m going to do yet with this thing. One starred me. When you put yourself out there, it is a position of vulnerability, but that’s the position of power. That’s the power. Being vulnerable is power. I don’t know how else to land that for you. When you put yourself out there and you share and you expose yourself to the communities and the world you’re trying to influence, you are powerful. And so visibility, as the fifth tactic, is crucial for a brand you’ve got to be visible, which means you got to be where your market is and you got to be out there with them and engaging. Okay.Number six, your value proposition. UVP, baby. Going old school. It’s okay. Just stay with me for a second. Because if you’re authentic and consistent and you have a great story and you’re an expert and you’re visible, so are other people competing against you. Fair? You with me on that? They’re authentic. They’re consistent. They have a good story. They’re an expert. They spent 30 years in the business. They’re visible. What separates you from them? What uniquely do you bring to the market, to your services that is different than them? And I’ll give you a hint. Great rates, closing on time and good customer service isn’t it. That is garbage. I am sorry. It’s not garbage. It’s crucially important as a foundation, but it’s not a differentiator and it’s not a value proposition. That’s what I mean by garbage. I don’t mean you can’t have that … You’re getting me, right? Okay.So this part’s hard though. This is a hard thing to say, because you could say, “I’m an expert.” So am I. “I am authentic,” and so am I. “I’m visible,” so am I. What sets you apart from the rest? I can’t give it to you, but I can kind of point you in the right direction. So for example, if your story is you’re a veteran that served and your value proposition is because of my service. I have this deep personal connection and motivation to serve underserved veterans. You’ve got a UVP that’s different than mine. I don’t have that. Sure. There’s another vet that may have that, but you’re starting to differentiate and pull out from the madness. That’s the kind of stuff I love. And you got to figure out what your value proposition is and what makes you unique and different, besides your expertise and visibility and blah, blah, blah. It’s very important because if everyone else shows up one through five and the number six hits, there you go.Last piece of a strong personal brand, your network, your connections, the humans that will help you. Man, I don’t know how else to say this, but one of the things … Oh yeah, I do. I know exactly what to say. See, I’m not that dumb. I’m dumb, but I’m not that dumb. I’ll give you the example. When I was an early originator, I proposed to my beautiful bride and we were going to get married in July. And so, as a loan officer, I sent out a $10 million challenge. I have the flyer. It’s over there. It’s incredible. And the $10 million challenge was a flyer sent to all 100 of the top agents in Orange County where I was working. And my past customers all got one. And I basically wrote a letter that said, “I need your help. I’m getting married in July, super excited.” I shared a lot of my life with people on all that all the time because I wanted to humanize it.And apparently, I was doing the right stuff without even really knowing it. “I’ve never funded over $10 million in a month. I would really love your help to accomplish that milestone before I go on my honeymoon to Greece.” That’s what the $10 million challenge was. I had some great funny months. So I had $8 million, $6 million months, but I never had broken the 10 million normal. And, man, it was a personal goal of mine to break that milestone. So I asked my connections for help. The connections that I showed up with and see on weekends, even if the real estate partners had never worked with me, they had seen me popping around at events, at networking events. I was the affiliate of the year for the [inaudible 00:20:30] Realtors one year. I was there. They had exposed to me. They were my connections. My past customers, they were my connections. And I asked for help. When you are sincere in building strong connection with other human beings and having your brand exposed amongst your community, they will rally to your cause and they will help you.That’s one of the reasons I always, always, always tell people to stop posting online and start campaigning for a result. Instead of saying, “I’m going to do 10 part video series for first-time home buyers,” say, “I’m going to do a 10 part video series every Friday for first-time home buyers with the goal of helping 10 new first-time home buyers get into their home over the next three months. And I need your help, my network, my connections, because I’m going to rely on you to help me get where we’re going to go together and we’re going to do it together.” If you’re not connected to other people in a really strong way, your brand will suffer. And this is a way to help it. You feel me on this? Campaign. Don’t post. That’ll be another video for sure. But ask for a result. Did that land? I’m going to say it one more time because I don’t think it landed for you. You got to focus on this.Instead of posting 10 videos for 10 weeks saying, “Each one will be on a tip for a first time home buyer.” Great. Love you. What about if you actually asked for a result? Oh, now you’re vulnerable. What if you don’t get your result? Oh my God. Try it. Try it and see what happens. And say, “Hey, I’m going to post 10 videos and I’m going to put a little counter at the end. It says zero of 10. And every time I get a chance to consult a new first-time home buyer … ” Just consult. Just give them advice … “I’m going to take one of those tallies up. And you, my community, my connections. I need your help. Here’s video number one.” Bang, bang, bang, bang. Next week, “guys, you remember I’m on this campaign to help and educate 10 first time-home buyers on their options. Here’s video number two. I need your help. I’ve got one of 10 down. Thank you to whoever referred me to that person.”You feel me on this? These are the seven elements of a very, very strong, personal brand. Authenticity, consistency, your story, humanized yourself, your expertise, being visible, your unique value proposition that sets you apart and your network and your connections that you’re investing in and building on. Those, as a foundation, will rocket your personal brand, you’re leaning into that space. And I said it before, and I’ll say it as we kind of closed down, if you’re not, you’re going to lose because humans, they want to connect to brands. They want to connect to people. They don’t want to connect to a billboard. And you need to showcase that you’re much more than an interest rate. All right? There it is. Have a great rest of your week guys. Thanks for hanging out with me. Take care.