Ever watched the X-Factor or American Idol? How many times has Simon Cowell dithered over a contestant simply because he doesn’t know where to “fit” them? The music-mogul gives them that daunting stare, “You know … I’m having difficulty putting you in a category. I don’t think you know the artist you want to be yet,” he preaches. And pretty much with that, the contestant’s hopes are dashed. Essentially, what he’s talking about is the ‘image’ that is extremely important for music labels to sell, and recognisable enough for consumers to buy. The brand!
And in business, it’s no different. Especially in the digital age, you are leaving a footprint. People are talking about you. You do have a personal brand, whether you like it or not, and it’s up to you whether you capitalise on that.
What Is a Personal Brand?
A brand refers to anything that sets one thing apart from another—even if the two things do the same thing.
It’s like Mac vs. PC. I’m a writer, so all I really need to do my job is something to type on and an internet connection. I could work equally well on a PC or a Mac. But I use a Mac. Why? Because of the Apple brand. I emotionally identify with Apple. I feel a connection to Apple. Their brand is so strong that they’ve persuaded me to spend a lot more money than I needed to, just so I can type on a pretty Mac keyboard. That’s the power of brand, and leveraging that can mean the difference between being a Mac or an obscure laptop that sits untapped on a PC World shelf.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Building your personal brand means building a reputation, being consistent and credible in your space, leveraging the power of positive social proof to be seen as the leader amongst your competition.
Sounds complex, right? And it is. In an ideal world, you’d be a social media manager, a writer, a speaker, a conference-attender, a podcast maker and so on, as well as finding the time to go above and beyond in your job. But this isn’t an ideal world and I don’t know many people who have time to do all of that.
But don’t fear. There’s an easy shortcut:
If you don’t have the time, ability or inclination to research, write, publish, and market your own highly unique, useful, engaging content (even typing that felt like effort), then curating content is the easy solution.
That is, consistently find and share industry-relevant content that other people have written, without claiming to have penned each word yourself, of course.
Content curation is a powerful shortcut for building your personal brand. Check out these benefits:
- Positioning yourself as a thought-leader
- Increased reach
- Building credibility
- Be seen as a trusted voice
- Building authority
- Taking almost zero time compared to actually creating content
OK, so you’re sold. And you should be. Like it or not, you do have a personal brand, and content curation is the easiest shortcut to making that brand work for you.
Getting Started with Content Curation is Easy
Here’s a step-by-step.
- Set up keyword alerts so you don’t miss important updates
- Follow industry influencers on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn and keep your finger on the pulse
- Sign up to Scoop.it to find relevant content easily within topic streams
- Schedule ten minutes every morning to review new and trending articles
- Pick 3+ and add a ‘takeaway’ thought to each (using Scoop.it or simply adding a comment when you post it)
- Use Hootsuite or similar to schedule each at intervals throughout the day
- Rinse and repeat.
See? It really is simple. There’s loads of content curation tools out there too, designed to make your life easier by seamlessly integrating content curation into your day job.
There’s no excuse. Almost everyone shares content anyway—instead of tagging your mate in that video of a cat singing to a camel on Facebook, why not share something that will effortlessly build a personal brand that hinges on professionalism and insight?
Something to Remember
As effective as curating content is, it’s about what you share. Sharing itself doesn’t add value.
The reason content curation is such a powerful shortcut to building a personal brand is because you can quickly add value to your network. That’s the key. When I’ve seen people fall down with content curation it’s been because they lose sight of their purpose: to provide useful, valuable, relevant insight.
With that in mind, remember that quality is key. As obvious as it may sound, you should never share anything without reading it first, thoroughly. And only post things you’d be happy to put your name to.
That’s where adding a ‘takeaway’ thought comes in – try and encapsulate what you think people will get out of the article by reading it. If you can’t, maybe it’s something to avoid sharing.
What’s the Upshot?
Curating content is a no-brainer. It’s an easy shortcut for building your personal brand—something that traditionally takes a lot of commitment. It’s easy to do, requires very little actual effort, takes almost no time compared to creating content and can have a huge impact in how you’re perceived. And there’s not really a downside, as long as you heed the brief word of warning above and make sure you’re always adding value.