Become a Little Bit Famous: Gaining Visibility for Brand YOU
Most of us have low wattage on the visibility and fame spectrums. We are unknown outside of a small network of friends and professional contacts. We are not boldface names. Many hardworking people are self-promotion challenged, because they have not identified and promoted their personal brand. I get it. No one likes a relentless self-promoter. That’s not what I’m advocating.
Branding is About Visibility Making
Despite things we’ve been told, like “talent is key,” the reality is more like “visibility is what’s rewarded.” Talent and hard work are important, but visibility alone can explain the difference between a professional who is in demand and earns a large salary and another professional who is just getting by.
Business people and professionals used to scoff at going after the fame game, but that was before the celebrity CEO, celebrity tech entrepreneur, celebrity chef, celebrity hairdresser, celebrity doctor, celebrity lawyer – you name it. Visibility is behind every product, every company, every nonprofit institution, every movement, and every person who achieves great things. Yes, visibility helps make the world go round.
What’s Your Q Score?
We’re attracted to famous people, often just because they are famous. Being well known is important for a brand and it’s measured by the Q Score (or Q‑Rating). Visibility is important for brands and for people because it has a halo effect.
Brands with high Q scores are well-known and well-liked, and that influences consumers buying behavior. Likewise, your managers and colleagues will think you are better than others who are not well known or are invisible in your organization. “Sally must be better than Sam, or why else is she so well known?” is how the thinking goes.
What Are Your Visibility Goals?
Most of us aren’t interested in being famous like the Kardashians. We’re talking here of fame on some level—famous in your industry, famous in your company, famous in your division, famous in your department, famous in your neighborhood. And we’re talking here of being famous for something—an idea, a belief system, a point of view, a major achievement, an area of excellence. In short, you want to show up high on Google when someone plugs in your name.
What’s Your Brand Niche?
Look for an arena that is not already too crowded with others who staked out their spots before you. Figure out where there might be room in the channel for you. Is it time for a changing of the guard? Are there issues in your field that are not well represented or even discussed? Which ones would benefit most from your contribution?
Every field produces “celebrities” – people who act as standard bearers. These people are the leaders who are quoted on industry issues or on their specialty areas. Or they fill the role of expert, historian, pundit, crusader or contrarian. Every institution has a need for people to fill various archetypal roles. Some even become icons. Maybe you can too.
You can build visibility for yourself in a manner that’s subtle or heavy-handed, tasteful or obnoxious, outdated or up-to-date, but if you don’t participate, you will be left behind..
Which Visibility Tactics are Best for Brand You?
Have some long range goals, but realize that It’s hard to achieve your visibility goals all at once. You need a step‑by‑step approach.
Most people begin personal branding by building a reputation internally as the company resident expert on something, the leader of a high-profile team, or other positioning and expand their brand footprint from there. You can take advantage of company networking events; even speaking up more at meetings is important.
Regional or industry recognition:
As you expand your bandwidth, start to play an active role at industry meetings and conferences as a panelist or committee member. Or write an article for your industry’s trade paper. Volunteer to participate in regional or national projects at your company. Begin to build a stronger presence at industry networking events.
You probably can’t use high-visibility tactics unless you are running the show, but you can get involved in an activity outside your job, such as chairing a fund-raising drive for a nonprofit or supporting a cause of personal interest to you. To build a broader reputation, you can explore bigger conferences, TED talks, media interviews, podcasts, blogs, and the like.
Social media and online recognition: The internet and social media platforms are free and open to one and all. They should be an important part of your visibility strategy at every stage of your career. Begin by owning yourname.com and setting up a website. Then target a few social media platforms that best serve your style and messaging.
How Can You Stand Out?
Meetings are your stage. Brush up your presentation and writing skills so that you are an effective communicator. Look for ways to make your talks special or set up a dramatic introduction for someone else.
When you talk about your ideas and proposals, use branding techniques, such as naming your ideas to make them big ideas and coining words and expressions. Don’t make the story about you when you discuss important projects. Make it about the project, the team, the idea, or the accomplishment. Glory will flow back to you, and you won’t appear self-promoting.
You’ll find that your success increases the more visible you are in your company, your industry, social media, or whatever arena you’re targeting. That’s why you need to become a little bit famous, beginning with one step at a time.
This guest post was authored by Catherine Kaputa
Catherine Kaputa is the author of THE NEW BRAND YOU: How to Wow in the New World of Work (Nicholas Brealey, November 15, 2022) and founder of SelfBrand, a consultancy dedicated to helping people use personal branding insights to achieve career success, fulfillment, and happiness. She has given branding presentations and conducted employee workshops at many of today’s most innovative companies such as Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Intel, Merck, Unilever, and Citi.
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