“Your brand is what people say when you are not in the room.
~ Jeff Bezos
January 3, 2021
I have been writing on LinkedIn for the past year. It was quite a learning curve and I’ve had many personal insights on the way.
Today I’m writing something I myself wish I could have read 1 year ago.
When I first started writing on LinkedIn I didn’t know, what to write, how to write, and how to position myself out there. The short-form was a new thing for me, and although I had some experience with creative writing, writing for a professional audience was something I haven’t explored before.
So if you’re someone who is seriously considering establishing his personal brand on LinkedIn let me share a few thoughts with you.
First, let’s start with motivation.
Why do you want to create a personal brand?
Why create a personal brand?
You will of course have your own reasons. Here, I will just be sharing mine hoping that it can serve as food for thought.
First, you have to understand what you are trading.
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather prefer to stay away from publicity because you understand deeply something that Castaneda was describing in his series “The Teachings of Don Juan".
The more people know you, the more they control you.
I don’t quite remember the exact quote but you get the point — the more people know about who you are and what you are offering, the more people will come to claim a piece of your time. That is just natural.
Time is the essence of life. This is what life is made of. If you put yourself out there, you must have a good reason to trade your time that otherwise could have been spent on self-discovery and self-creation for conversing with those who knock on your doors.
I’ve made a decision to give up a certain portion of control over my time for the sake of gaining something else.
Here are the 5 benefits that can be a good return on your investment of time.
Benefit 1. A personal brand is a form of influence.
You are increasing your capacity to drive change both in your personal life and the lives of those who follow your journey online.
I’ll take myself as an example.
I am neither interested in power, nor in money. Making a difference is my currency.
My purpose is to champion a particular message and not just ensure its propagation but to embody it.
The message is simple:
“You are not your thoughts.”
All problems arise from the mind, to be specific from the ego — the conglomerate of thoughts and notions that one has about himself.
Want some examples?
Racism. The stupidest delusion of all. Thinking that we are different and making a conflict out of it just because we are born into a particular kind of body.
Can you see the depth of this illusion? People think that they are their bodies. And that is the first level of awakening that a human being must go through. A body is nothing but a vessel for what’s hidden within — a ghost in the shell.
Another example — Identity Crisis. For instance, some people self-identify with their job titles. Here is Tom. Tom thinks he is a lawyer working for a firm for 15 years and then one sunny day he is losing his job. Tom is devastated. He had no idea about who he was in the first place. Being a lawyer was simply his occupation — something that he was doing. But who was he beyond that notion of a lawyer?
Other people self-identify with their sexual preference. Helen thought she is a lesbian for 25 years until one day something unfathomable happened — she fell in love with a man. What happened to her? Her coordinate system collapsed overnight. Why? Because again, her core identity was constructed from false transient elements. Our tastes change. What you truly are is not and cannot be transient.
Your understanding of self is changing, your true nature remains unchanged. No one can add to it or take from it. You are an infinite boundless space in which all events take place.
The good news is that the realization of your true nature is possible. We can arrive at the epiphany of what we are through the gradual realization of what we are not.
Once we give up all the notions that we have of ourselves the true nature will reveal itself. And once we all collectively reach that space, that space precisely will be the level of consciousness that will correspond to the level of our ambition — to be the beings who live as if the whole planet is their niche.
You see, this is my mission. I am so passionate about it so I can easily get carried away, even while talking about something as banal as a personal brand.
The point is — having a personal brand helps you to be a champion of the message you came to promote in this world.
What is your message?
Benefit 2. A personal brand is a form of marketing.
The first law of marketing states:
In order for an idea to propagate, it must first be placed in a medium where it has an ability to do so.
If you’re a business owner the benefits of a personal brand are obvious. You can use the strength of your own charisma and personality to drive business and increase awareness about the product or service you deliver.
If you’re a job seeker, your chances to be discovered by your targeted employer are higher if you have a strong online presence.
If you are a recruiter you must understand that recruitment is marketing. Finding talent is much easier when the talent is also able to find you.
If you’re someone who has the ambition to be known as a thought leader, then there are a few online platforms that can compete with LinkedIn in its suitability for your goals.
If there is any idea that you need to market, a personal brand is a tool that can help you accomplish that.
Benefit 3. A personal brand is a way to create opportunities.
A personal brand helps other people to find you, see you as a reliable and responsible person, and come to you with their ideas or a project they want to bring to life.
In the words of a friend, a fellow content creator, and one of my most favorite people on LinkedIn Fanny Dunagan:
“This is the beauty of content creation. People know you before they’ve met you.”
Every piece of content you have or will have created will work for you forever. Your pieces of content will become online breadcrumbs that will lead to your profile.
Benefit 4. A personal brand is a way of creating a sense of connectedness.
Here is a rather simple but rarely understood insight.
Connectedness is a habit.
When the pandemic hit us we suddenly found ourselves in seclusion of our own homes. For many of us, it was hard to cope with the feeling of loneliness in self-isolation.
It was then that we have realized that even though online communication is a cheap substitute for the real human connection, still the more time we spend connecting online the more connected we feel.
The feeling of connectedness and belonging to a community stems from our daily activities — texting, video-calling, posting on social media, and reading comments from our friends. Before we get back to normal we have to rely on this way of communication but it still up to us to define its quality.
If you don’t want to feel lonely, just don’t. There are plenty of people to talk to online and now, for the first time in our short history, we are sharing a collective experience that has become a common ground for us all. COVID is the great equalizer but it also became an ultimate connector.
Benefit 5. A personal brand is a self-development tool.
Building a brand is not easy. You have to become better — a better writer, a better thinker, a better leader.
You have to become more professional, more competent, more confident, more assertive, more self-aware as well as more aware of how others might perceive you, always hungry, always growing, always seeking new knowledge to generate quality thoughts.
You want others to see the best side of you, and by spending more time in the thoughts of how you can make it happen you are becoming better.
By setting a standard that you want others to see as golden and constantly aspiring to get closer to that standard, you become a better human being. Isn’t this something we all truly desire? To be the best version of ourselves.
Becoming a content creator causes you to experience a paradigm shift — you learn how to think as a creator not just as a content consumer. You learn to appreciate the amount of time and effort others put in their work. You can see how thoughts and ideas come together to form a big picture that creates a totally new sense.
And that is the most beautifully selfish thing one can do — to sculpt your own identity through selfless service to others.
How to create a personal brand?
Find your medium. Be it words, infographics, video, podcast, or any other form of transferring knowledge, find what speaks to you. Listen to the feedback but do not follow the hubbub of the crowd. The crowd is headless, it is controversial, you will lose yourself if you do what you think other people want you to do.
Someone once said on LinkedIn:
“We are what the algorithm made us”.
Painfully true. I am guilty of it myself. There were days I was lost chasing my own tail — pursuing the vanity metrics, running after the engagement, trying to please the algorithm.
All of these things took me further and further away from what I truly enjoy — weaving the threads of letters and words, spinning the web of thought like a spider, seeing how it all comes together in a mesmerizing pattern that is being engraved on my soul like a sacred tattoo. I forgot a simple truth.
I love writing.
I also forgot how important it is to keep reminding myself of what got me here in the first place.
Please no one but yourself. Work until what you see satisfies you. Work for the state of flow that you experience when you are in deep work. Remember what sir Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Don’t worry about people. Your people, those who truly love what you do, won’t leave you, and those who leave you, they were never your people in the first place.
Renounce all the notions about the personal brand that you have.
The strongest personal brand is the person behind it.
You will find only disappointment by pretending to be something that you are not.
You are a beautiful being, with your own gifts, your own talents, your idiosyncrasies, and personal tastes. Yes, you are a little strange but remember what Cheshire Cat said to Alice?
“We are all mad here.”
Care less about what others will say. Instead, care more about what your own judgment of your creation will be when you will look back at it 10 years later.
What is the shelf life of your creation?
It is all about value.
Value can be tangible or intangible.
You can share a tool or a resource that can quantitatively improve someone’s life or you can simply share a tool of thought — an idea wrapped in words that can help the reader to flip the narrative and live his life more wisely and with more fulfillment.
Some people would reach out to me saying that they draw inspiration from my writing. Some would say that it makes them think.
You see, that’s my value. And that is my personal brand. I write about philosophy and spirituality in the world of work and business. And I do it because I can and because for me, both things are the same —personal growth is equal to professional growth.
Educate. Entertain. Persuade. Inspire.
Do any of these and your personal brand will shape itself over time. The process is the goal.
I’ll close today with another Castaneda quote:
“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
Pursue creating a personal brand if it makes sense to you. If it doesn’t, do not pursue it.
So here are my learnings after writing for 1 year on LinkedIn. Accept this with a grain of salt or accept nothing at all.
Examine your own inner motivators. What can make you step out of your comfort zone and step into the spotlight?
Screw the impostor syndrome. I never met a man in my life who wasn’t eaten inside by the worm of doubt in his own ability to say something worthwhile.
We are all imperfect. We are all learning. We are all on our own path other beings know very little about.
If your work will make someone realize something he didn’t know about himself before, then your piece of content has fulfilled its purpose.
You have fulfilled your purpose.
By the time someone will read these words, I will be in a different point of time and space, jotting down different thoughts, and this present “I” — the “I” right now, will no longer exist.
And that is the dance of life.
We write what makes sense for us right now. Tomorrow, maybe there will be no sense. But that is irrelevant.
Create for the beauty of it. Create to turn heads. Create to stir minds and provoke thoughts.
And through that creation, create yourself.