You Don’t Have to Be an Egomaniac to Have a Professional Brand
There are a lot of myths out there about getting your articles into publications: that it’s self-serving, that people who do it are egomaniacs, or even that you have to brag about your achievements to get publishers to notice you. Despite all the misconceptions, it really is possible to get yourself published without coming across as a know-it-all who’s full of himself.
Despite what people say, getting published does not mean you’re self-promoting. If you look past that stereotype, you can treat getting published as an opportunity to spread your knowledge and expertise, providing value to the publication and to those who are reading it. You don’t need to brag about your personal or company success to write a good article, either. If you base each article on information rather than self-promotion, you’re actually helping people out and building your professional brand at the same time.
Look for an example
Sometimes the best way to learn tactful personal branding is to watch experts who really know their stuff. Ask your friends and colleagues whom they look to for information. A few months ago, a contact introduced me to ChrisSnook. Chris had a bestselling book on the market called Wealth Management, yet he was hit with a bankruptcy. Instead of covering it up and putting on a persona that everything was fine, he embraced the situation and learned from it to come back out on top. Now, he shares his experiences to help others avoid making the same mistakes.
You can usually tell if someone is writing transparently because it won’t be a perfect story, with anecdotes from the author to show that he’s really “been there.” A lot of people out there are self-proclaimed experts, but they share more facts than experiences. When I was in school, I always thought the best teachers were the ones with real-world experience who could tie the curriculum with the things they’d learned. In the same way, the most authentic contributors to publications are the ones who have had great real-world experiences. Don’t be afraid that people won’t be able to relate to your situation – it’s the personal that makes good content compelling.
Don’t seem promotional
When you’re speaking to an audience or contributing to a publication, give the listeners or readers something valuable to take away from your content. It’s important to give the audience as many takeaway points as possible, so they’ll remember your name and brand. That’s why the best way to be promotional is to not seem promotional. When you’re speaking, it helps to combine a very expertise-driven message with entertaining and funny anecdotes. It gives the audience two levels of interaction (both substance and satire), and it will make your presentation more memorable.
Don’t be scared!
There’s no reason to be apprehensive about contributing to publications. Even if you don’t have much free time, there are services to streamline your writing and publication process to minimize the time you need to spend on it. If you’re not sure what to write about, just ask yourself, “What am I an expert in?” Whatever you know the most about and feel the most comfortable with, that should be your area of focus for publications. It’s true that the more content you send to editors, the better chance you have of getting published. If publications have several submissions to choose from, they’re more likely to find something they really want from you. If an editor doesn’t pick it up, you can still post it on your own blog and share it with people from there. Great content is useful, no matter the forum.
Regardless of what people say, getting published doesn’t have to be about an ego trip. There is no better way to build your brand, share your experience and enjoy the process at the same time. You know about something no one else does – develop some content around it so others can learn from you.
John Hall is the CEO of Digital Talent Agents, a company that focuses on building individuals professional brands through producing high-quality content for reputable publications.