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Of creating your personal brand and connecting with your audiences

Let me just say, I am absolutely stoked to see so many people's ideas come to life in light with the advent of #COVID19. That's how we have all been relegated to our homes for a period unknown, and are now looking at ways to turn our knowledge or "works of thy hands" into revenue generating streams. If you are one of those who have been so fortunate to keep receiving a full paycheck in this season - you have the Heavens to thank for that. There's a lot of uncertainty that surrounds us, but one thing's for sure - great ideas are often birthed out of a need to survive or simply fill a gap.

A month ago, 13 phenomenal Zimbabwean women living in 5 countries and I. launched a book titled "Reinvented & Victorious: The Anthology". As we challenged each other to dig deep during the process of writing our stories, what became apparent to me was the inherent desire that each of us carried to better define who we were and what we stood for. How were we to separate who we are from what we do? Was there even a need to do this? What did we want to be known for and what legacy did we want to leave behind for the generations after us. How is this all presented to the world outside our walls? Was this the time for some of us to launch or re-launch our personal brands?

My interest in personal branding peaked just from watching the evolution of some of the personalities that inspire me. Whether it was Oprah, Michelle Obama, the high-powered woman at the office we called “the boss” every day or the entrepreneurial big-shot that appears in local newspapers back home on the daily, there was a lot to be said about how they have positioned themselves within the ecosystems they operate. How others have grown to view them and their exploits over the years in which they’ve been public facing is a huge contributor to their brand equity. I mean let’s face it, very few people want to associate themselves with something or someone that is classically messy right?!

As I help aspiring entrepreneurs develop their own brands, I’ve come to appreciate certain elements that birth a personal brand to be proud of. Mapping out a communications strategy for some of the pioneering global brands I've enjoyed the great privilege of working for has taught me the value one is to uphold to the process of developing a personal or corporate brand. It's hard work. It requires a knack for meticulous delivery. One error in design, organisational ethos or message delivery could lead to customers walking out of your brick and mortar business and heading off to the competition. Or...your customers can simply shut you down with bad publicity across social media. There is so much to consider. And so, if you are ready to embark on the process of building your personal brand, take heed of the following 5 critical tips to getting you started on the right track with connecting with your audiences:

1. Authenticity is the new perfection. Simply put, be who you say you are and be unapologetic about it. In the world that coaxes us to portray perfection, it’s the individuals that speak their strengths and weaknesses truthfully that connect to their audiences. So what if you are having a bad day or the barber botched your haircut!? It’s talking about the good and the bad that makes us all human – and these are the stories we all love.

2. Own your story. Huge!!! Your story is yours and that’s what makes you so special. Launching our new book has been a reminder of this. Our stories are our differentiators! Building a personal brand is about connecting people to the essence of who you are, and that comes in part through being able to speak our truth confidently. That story of Bill Gates starting his business from his garage or yours with $100 in savings – that’s the real hook! Share that! There’s something to be said about living on the other side of some real struggle. We all start at the bottom before we make our way up the ladders of success.

3. Operate in your gift. I love writing and building brands through storytelling and so have been fortunate to now make a living from that. I am old enough to now know what works for me and what doesn’t. In short, you will not find me trying to open a restaurant if I have to run it day in and out. Develop that which you are passionate about and focus on that. As you excel in your gift, people will begin to notice.

4. Get on your Marketing 101 grind. You may not know how to do a lot of things, but marketing shouldn’t be one of them. In fact – if you are looking to create and grow a personal brand – get on Udemy or Coursera and take basic courses so you aren’t clueless when folks ask you about your marketing, communications or social media strategy. There are tonnes of free resources out there to help you with ideas of how to promote yourself and what you do. Knowing a little marketing will help you keep a good deal of your promotional costs low.

5. Let your personality shine. You want people to enjoy you as much as you hope they will enjoy connecting or collaborating with you or purchasing what you are selling. No one enjoys a grump. Lighten up a little bit as your delivery will go a long way with growing your followership. Let the essence of you vibrate through your logo design's font and colour palette, packaging, event curation or participation if that's your thing, or how you engage with your customers. Reinvented Today is founded on speaking our truths and working through the process of improvement. That requires honesty from me to my clients on how i've managed to overcome certain challenges and how I can help them do the same.

I started off by asking whether this could be the THE year of the personal brand. I think it could very well be the year that challenges us to start defining what business and income generation will look like moving forward. A lot of brick and mortar businesses have been hit on one side, while we see the rise of the freelancer and sole proprietor willing to offer a needed service on the other hand. Just the other day I read a newspaper article of a woman who out of sheer necessity, started venturing out to a local market to source fresh produce for families in her community because they didn't want to risk going out themselves. And you know what; they paid her for this service and she's managed to keep her bills paid since loosing her job.

Now then, could this be the time you start looking at how to turn your skills into a service? If it is, women like myself are ready to help you get on track to launching your business, regardless of your location! Drop me a note to find out how!

Happy personal branding!

Your Reinvented Architect

Yvonne C. Mtengwa

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