It was a chilly October morning when I stepped out of my Lyft and into the Morgan Stanley Building in Midtown Manhattan. After showing picture ID, I was then instructed to put my bag onto a conveyor belt and through a small X-RAY Machine. From there, I made my way to the 26th Floor and was instantly greeted by signage announcing the event I had reluctantly traveled above 14th Street for: "SHE LEADS: 2018 Women's Conference".
A few sips of surprisingly decent coffee later, and I was summoned to enter the conference room. The other attendees - aspiring entrepreneurs and already successful small business owners - eagerly filed into the brightly lit space. All but a few chairs were occupied as the two Co-Founders of Socialfly took the stage. After a brief introduction, Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Abrams Cartin clicked to their first presentation slide. I noticed the room was split instantly - younger women took photos of the screen to capture the info while older women scratched pen to paper at a furious pace. It was oddly fascinating to see the age-gap playing out so perfectly. But all humor was quickly lost when I finally turned my attention towards the screen. The first slide, with its trendy pale pink background and black font, read: "Personal Branding on Social Media". Ugh.
The exit doors were too far away for me to slip out unnoticed, so I buckled in for what I expected to be an exhausting and pointless 30 minutes. See - I was already so sure that I knew everything there was to know about social media. However, I'm happy to report that I was wrong. Here's what I learned in that 30 minutes:
To build a strong and successful personal brand, you need to consider 6 steps:
1. Build an educational brand persona. People are searching for sources they can trust. Teach your audience something, and they'll keep coming back.
2. Distribution. Tap into social media to form a tribe that will help distribute content. Know your audience and what platforms they use. Don't waste your time on the ones they don't.
3. Tools. There are tons of tools to help build your brand, depending on your goals. Photoshop, video editing software, blogging sites (hi, Hubspot!) - prioritize which tools are important and LEARN THEM.
4. Get out of the office. In-person engagement can make a big difference. Don't just hide behind your screen, get out and experience the world and connect with your audience at networking and social events.
5. Social listening. Tailor content to what your audience is talking about and loving. Don't be afraid to take the latest trend and put your spin on it - just make sure you do it on time. No more Harlem Shake videos, please.
6. Budget. By now, personal branding/social media should be built into your marketing budget. It takes a little bit of investment to create and distribute quality content.
I left the conference humbled. There was a lot more to building a following than I had ever considered. Now I'm determined to revamp my own personal brand, and this is me starting at step #1 by being educational. So... did you learn anything? Hopefully! But if you're looking for more info, visit SocialflyNY.com. Oh, and if you want to laugh at my currently poorly curated instagram, follow me @yaasbigcats and just maybe you'll get to witness my own journey of becoming a branding guru. Fingers crossed!