By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

Finding Your Superpower and Other Must-Do Steps for Building a Personal Brand From The PR Maven®

  • When thinking about your personal brand, start with your superpower! Once you know what sets you apart from the crowd, you can better appeal to your potential clients.

Sometimes, dreams come true a little earlier than you expect them to, and in surprising ways.

Take, for example, the establishment of my agency, Marshall Communications. Back in 1991, I was working on the PR team for the Sugarloaf ski resort. I’d shared my aspirations to start my own business with several of my colleagues — and when Sugarloaf eliminated my position because of budget cuts, it expedited that plan!

I shared this story as a guest on an episode of the Fast Forward Maine Podcast. On this episode, I chatted with hosts Rich Brooks and Yury Nabokov about the journey I’ve taken in the last three decades to craft my personal brand and to help my clients do the same.

It all started with relying on my superpower, even when things didn’t go as planned.

In the years since then, I’ve used that superpower to grow Marshall Communications, expand my personal network and support many other businesses as they’ve figured out how to communicate with their target audiences and prospective clients in a way that really resonates.

Once you understand your personal brand as your primary message, it becomes much easier to communicate effectively and consistently with the media and others outside of your organization.

Finding Your Superpower and Other Must-Do Steps for Building a Personal Brand From The PR Maven® Figure out your superpower, then use that to inspire your brand

My superpower has always been keeping track of people in my mind — whether they’re journalists or clients — and connecting people based on their shared interests.

As much as I love to talk, I also love to listen, and I know people appreciate that when they’re getting to know me in either a personal or professional context. I like to think I have a database in my mind where I can keep track of everyone I meet for the future.

This superpower has served me well in public relations at Marshall Communications, but it has also been a jumping-off point for my personal brand, The PR Maven.

My dad helped me identify my gifts and encouraged me to explore a potential career in PR when I was in high school, but if you’re still working to craft your personal brand, it’s never too late to reflect on what gets you in your zone of genius. One of the very first steps in building a personal brand is focusing on your superpower.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when thinking about your personal superpower:

  • What gives you energy and joy?
  • What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
  • Why are people attracted to you?

Once you have a better idea of your superpower, you can dig deeper into the process of personal brand building.

Here are a few other things to consider as you further fine tune that brand and work to share it with the world.

1. Leverage your uniqueness to stay memorable

The reason that developing a personal brand is important in the first place is because you want to be memorable. You want to have a unique story associated with the work you do so that it’s easy for potential clients to find you, especially online.

Picture this: You meet someone at a party or networking event. They share with you a little bit about the work they do. In that moment, you expect that you might one day need their services, but you forget to exchange contact information.

Now, fast forward six months or a year — and you do need those services! If that person shared something special or memorable about themselves or their business with you, you can plug those details into a search engine — and you might just find them, even without direct access to them.

But if they just shared the bare bones information about their work, you are less likely to remember them and search accordingly … or successfully.

When crafting your personal brand, think about the kinds of details you can share with people about your work, whether at networking events, at parties or in the media. You can differentiate yourself from your competitors based on the specific clients you serve, the path that brought you to where you are or the special superpowers that make you great.

2. Build cornerstone content

I am a big believer in cornerstone content. These are big pieces of content you can use to explain your unique point of view and to develop a platform, which will also help you develop an audience of people who enjoy consuming your content because they’re interested in your unique point of view.

My collection of cornerstone content for my personal brand includes columns for, my podcast The PR Maven Podcast, and my books. When people find their way to this content, they can learn a great deal about what I do and the style in which I do it.

In order to effectively market your personal brand in today’s media landscape, you need to have plenty of content out there. As your personal brand evolves, look for opportunities to share your expertise and experience via blog posts, podcasts, books, videos and more.

That way, when potential clients remember those differentiating factors about you (the ones I mentioned above) and find you online, there will be plenty of content for them to explore.

You’ll appeal to even more potential clients if you use a variety of different platforms and types of media for your cornerstone content. People should be able to connect with you whether they prefer to consume information via writing, audio or video.

3. Make your online identity reflect your in-person identity

I’ve built many of my own connections — both personally and professionally — by extending my online relationships into the in-person realm and by deepening face-to-face connections with social media.

As a result, I have found that personal branding truly happens in the interplay between what happens online and what happens in person.

You will do your best personal branding work, then, when you present yourself authentically online and in your cornerstone content. You don’t want people to feel confused or disconnected when they move between the in-person and online spaces with you!

This goes for headshots too. Resist the urge to use photos from years ago for your personal branding, even if you really love those photos. Posting and sharing more recent pictures will set you up for more trusting, straightforward relationships with new contacts.

4. Introverts, don’t panic!

It won’t take you long to figure out that I’m an extrovert — and it’s all too easy to assume that extroverts are better suited for the tasks associated with crafting a personal brand.

Telling memorable stories, building out a platform through cornerstone content, putting yourself out there in an authentic way online — it all seems a little extroverted, don’t you think?

It’s actually not! This may come as a surprise, but I believe that introverts are often better at building brands than extroverts because they tend to be better listeners.

People who are good listeners can be more attuned to conversations, which may make them more likely to follow up and build relationships on an ongoing basis. They might also be able to use thoughtfully the information they take in from these conversations to inform how their brand can serve potential audiences in the future.

For more expertise about personal branding and other aspects of public relations, listen to The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.