Content marketing and personal branding go hand-in-hand

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How do you successfully build your personal brand? Columnist Rebecca Lieb says it all comes down to

content marketing and ensuring that the content that represents you adds value.


Most professionals reach a point in life where, even if you don’t have kids yourself, close friends unleash

their recent college graduate offspring upon you for career advice. This has been happening a great deal

lately (Suddenly all those Dylans and Dakotas are no longer three years old, but instead in their 20s.

Time flies).


Over the course of many a coffee date and email exchange, the one piece of advice I find myself

dispensing most often to all these bright and eager young things is to work on building a personal brand

to advance their professional ambitions.


This realization was simultaneous with two other light bulbs igniting: The first is that this advice applies

to anyone, regardless of age or résumé. The second is that all this personal branding boils down very

neatly to content marketing, and therefore, to creating and applying a content strategy not to an

organization, product or service, but to yourself.


A personal content strategy, like an organizational one, will evolve over time. Sure, there’s dusting off the

old LinkedIn profile when you’re looking for your first (or fifth) job.


But then there’s the branding that evolves over time — content that will help establish what you stand for

and where you can create value and deliver insight; content that will reveal who you are (in a

professional capacity); and the content your next boss or her HR staff will find when they Google you

(and they will).


How to build your personal brand with content


Building a personal brand with content is much like building a corporate content strategy, only more



It begins with an audit. Review what channels contain content by or about you.


For most, social media platforms are the place to begin. LinkedIn is a given for a professional presence,

but these days, it’s a pretty safe bet that potential clients and employers are checking the larger non-

professional platforms too, particularly Facebook.


What types of content are on what channels and platforms? How does it represent you, both as a person

and professionally? Is it clean, with a minimum of typos and spelling mistakes?


A personal content strategy must strike the often delicate balance between who a person is,

professionally, and what that person is like — often revealed on more personal social platforms. It goes

without saying that overly personal or salacious material belongs on an account that’s not under your

real name, shared with close friends but not the world at large.


What’s too personal? What kind of content crosses the line? It’s a judgment call. A musician will have

boundaries that differ from a banker’s.


Often, a show of vulnerability makes you more human and approachable, even on a professional level.

We’re almost all at a stage where, when confronted by milestones such as death, disease, addiction, job

loss or other personal tragedies, social sharing must be informed by asking, “Would I want my boss or

clients to read this?,” just as many companies ask employees to run the “Would I want my grandmother

to read this?” check on social media messaging.


What platforms or channels can help build a personal brand? That will depend on industry and the

usage patterns of colleagues and co-workers. Ask around.


Younger or less experienced professionals are unlikely to assume positions of thought leadership

overnight in their chosen industries, but they can commit to commenting or blogging on industry trends.


Share original, high-quality content


Don’t just share headlines — add value. It can be a line or two of thought about what a new piece of

legislation might mean, or the implications of that acquisition or an innovative piece of technology.


“Lessons learned” is another category for content exploration. How did that job or project or client help

you to better understand your role or industry or a future trend?


Even when you’re just starting out, and it’s so early you haven’t selected an industry, content can still

help you brand yourself and reveal character.


A friend’s daughter is currently blogging about her year studying abroad. She’s discussing not what she’s

learning in school, but more universal lessons about life, relationships and personhood with the added

perspective of distance and a new language and culture.


She may not know what she’s going to do when she comes back to the States and graduates, but she will

have something to point to that indicates she’s thoughtful and analytical and wasn’t just abroad to party

or mark time.


For people with larger personal branding ambitions, an initial content strategy, coupled with a

commitment to a regular flow of distinctive, original, quality content, can rather quickly scale the ladder

of thought leadership. Content becomes a calling card when pitching a trade publication for an article or

column, or landing a coveted speaking engagement at an industry conference.


This content will quickly lead to other content — not to mention professional — opportunities.


Consider gaps, not just media and frequency, when carving out a niche for personal branding initiatives.

What are the uncharted topics in your industry that matter — that you can speak to with interest and



An added advantage of building a personal brand with content? You’ll become a better all-round content