It’s no secret that we want to buy from and work with people we trust. More and more business leaders are seeing the value in putting themselves out there – I have certainly seen the benefits of taking centre stage in my business. I also know that personal branding doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Ashley Shipman, CEO and Co-founder of the Angels & Unicorns Network and The Winners Club community and app, is no stranger to the art of delivering content which firmly establishes personal brand and builds communities.
In his extensive career in social media marketing, he has demonstrated his passion for taking everything from one-man-bands to FTSE 100 companies from zero to six or seven-figure earnings. In a nutshell: helping others build their brand and convert clients. It’s a passion we share. However, he wasn’t always so good at building his own personal brand.
You can hear our full conversation on the Interviews With Experts podcast.
Stepping into the spotlight
In the past, Ashley has been hesitant to put his face to anything, hiding behind a company logo and brand, but in recent years he has woken up to and really seen the power of the personal brand.
Ashley: “In this day and age, people buy people; so they want to know who that person is – they want to see who they’re buying before they purchase. It’s amazing the connections I’ve made and the business opportunities coming my way by having a personal brand. People can buy a company logo, but your best clients will be attracted to your personal brand. You’ll get better clients when they gel with your visions, your energy, your flow…
We’re in a world where people are holding onto their money for dear life because nobody knows what’s happening – people have tightened their belts. So now people are going to be buying into people they trust. They want to feel comfortable and to have a personal service – people will want to buy that. You’re even now starting to see a lot of big brands putting faces to the names to welcome people in.”
During our conversation, Ashley shared his top tips for building an authentic personal brand.
Tip 1: Provide value
A tool which Ashley has found invaluable in learning about the power of personal branding is the audio app Clubhouse. Despite not using it to directly pitch his business, his business has still grown. This is because, as Ashley says, “What people are there for is to get value – if you’re a value-giver, you’ll naturally attract the right audience.”
When he joined the app, he realised that rooms were often dominated by individuals. There were no “community” rooms in which everyone got a voice, and he felt he wasn’t connecting with people and he wasn’t growing. He saw an opportunity and chose to provide a community for everyone to make sure they had a voice and took stuff away from their interactions on Clubhouse.
Ashley: “From that, I haven’t got the biggest following, but what I feel I have got is a quality following. We have a strong community and tribe that come every day – I’m after a community and I think that’s what we’re building right now.”
Tip 2: Be authentic
For Ashley, building a personal brand is entirely about being authentic, a sentiment I strongly agree with.
Ashley: “People can see through someone not being authentic. No matter when people meet me, I’m exactly the same running through.”
Through experience, Ashley knows that it’s important to “find out who you are and then grow on who you are. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – just think ‘I’m happy with who I am’.”
As a result of presenting himself through audio apps, Ashley even looked into getting speaking lessons.
Ashley: “When I spoke to my one-on-one mentor, he said ‘you can learn to speak better, but don’t change your voice – because then you’re just going to blend in with everyone else.’ So I don’t read names properly, I mess up my words, but that is me. There’s no show, there’s no facade.”
Tip 3: Don’t be afraid of negative feedback
Personally, I’m no stranger to those people who send negative messages or criticism purely for the sake of it. I believe that it is a good sign that, in fact, you are making it and so I take them as a compliment (of a sort) from my “pen-pals”. Ashley agrees.
Ashley: “You’re climbing up the mountain and they’re trying to push you down in order to distract your vision and take you off-track. Your voice will be bigger than theirs, so do not reply. There’s no return on it. They’re only really trying to spark a reaction because your voice is bigger than theirs. So just think of them as fuel to the flame. When you do have your personal brand, you will get some negative feedback.”
The message is don’t let these people looking for attention distract you from delivering your authentic content or providing value.
Tip 4: Ask for help and seek out mentors
That said, don’t ignore all outside opinions. Ashley told me a story about an expensive learning opportunity in his early 20s:
Ashley: “I thought I was invincible, investing into areas I knew nothing about. I thought I knew it all and got serious, serious losses in financial terms. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done, because I didn’t get grounded and I didn’t ground myself.”
As Ashley learnt, having a mentor to guide you in the right direction is vital. They can help you evaluate risks. There is nothing wrong with asking for help or advice from someone with more experience.
Part of building a personal brand is being authentic. As a result, projecting confidence and expertise when it’s not there and you don’t know doesn’t work. People can see through BS.
Ashley: “If you don’t know something, ask for help. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool learns from his own. Don’t listen to ego or pride – get rid of it and relax. Literally just ask for help when you need it.”
If you know that building your brand through content isn’t your strength, reach out and ask for help to make sure your content and messaging is always on point. Maybe you have a story you’re burning to tell but are struggling to find the right words? Many of our authors have amazing stories, they just need some support getting them onto the page (or into a podcast or blog).
Why not book a clarity call if you’d like to learn more about how to build your personal brand using content and create a community that is excited to work with you.