Expert Robyn Graham shares why everyone needs a personal brand.
Stories Jenny Willden
Personal branding expert and photographer Robyn Graham didn’t always help people craft their public personas. But after growing tired of her job in pharmaceuticals, her husband suggested she pursue her love of photography, and she jumped at the chance. After launching her photography business (robyngrahamphotography.com) Graham quickly honed in on personal branding and now works exclusively in this space. She calls the career her “second phase” and uses lessons learned along the way to help others through her podcast, named The Second Phase.
“I’ve learned from so many mistakes,” Graham says, “and I can help people not make those same mistakes and brand their business from the get-go.” We asked Graham all about personal branding.
What is personal branding?
It’s that infusion of your personality into your business so people online can immediately get to know you, like you, and trust you. Before, people would decide in person if they liked you, but since Instagram and LinkedIn hit the scene, business people now meet online for the first time, and how you’re perceived in that space matters.
What makes up a personal brand?
A personal brand includes a logo, mission statement, branded photography, and your content. You have to prioritize those based on what your audience values. A logo is very important because it makes you instantly recognizable, but the logo is not going to build the like, know, and trust factor. If you have a set budget and are looking to build a personal brand, start with visual content through professional photography. People will get to see your personality first-hand and how you work in your business.
Even if you can’t afford a full-blown photoshoot, you should get a professional headshot. Your eyes and smile are gateways to your soul. As for your mission statement, it lets people know who you are and why you do what you do. This will inspire them to want to work with you.
Who needs personal branding?
Everyone needs a personal brand. I say this because even if you’re corporate, you have a personal brand. You may work for someone else, but how do you stand out? Show why you’re the expert, why you’re the go-to, why you do that work better than anybody else.
People are also finding their next employee through LinkedIn and social media sites. Recruiters won’t stop on a person who has a gray head and no profile pic. Just having that professional headshot shows you care about quality and want to represent yourself for advancement—not just the day-to-day grind.
If you can’t afford a professional headshot, I offer a free e-book that helps you use your smartphone to take better headshots at home.
How do you start building your brand?
Identify your niche first. You need to know who you’re serving. Combine your values, vision, and passion to help identify your niche. Once you’ve done that, you can start identifying your ideal client. Then use your mission statement to connect with your audience and get them to trust you.
Branded photography is used to get your personality out there. People don’t buy products and services; they buy personality. That’s why big brands use people in their ads to represent their brands. It helps you connect with the products, which converts to sales.
How do you find your audience?
Once you’ve identified your niche and audience, find out where they hang out. For me, LinkedIn is an incredible tool because I want to work with professionals. I do get business from Instagram, but LinkedIn is where my ideal clients are. From the real world to online, find where your best potential clients are and connect with them there.
In the age of social media, do people still need personal websites?
If you have a business, even if it’s a service industry, you need a website. People need to be able to find you, they want to see you, and they want to know what your “why” is before they call or email you. Even one page of who you are and what you do is critical.
A website adds credibility to your brand. Often people just have an Instagram and Facebook page, but to me, that’s not representing you as professionally as a website.
What else do people need to build their personal brand?
An email list. This allows you to touch base with your audience anytime you want. Whether you’re running a special or have an update to your business, having that touch point is powerful for a personal brand. Social media may not work or a company could fold, but your subscriber list is always yours.
How do people work with you on brand building?
I do a free 15-minute strategy call. I ask them to send me their website and social media links prior to our call and give them, in a nutshell, an idea of what I think would benefit them.
I also offer a one-hour strategy session where I tell you how you can do the least to grow the most. You get a recording of that session and then I type up recommendations. My brand insider program is a customized package that includes a website, photography, copy, and a logo. I have a studio just outside Philly, but I also come into the city and I have clients all over.