The New Thought Leadership – Establishing Our Personal Brand in a Social World — Dorie Clark

The New Thought Leadership – Establishing Our Personal Brand in a Social World.  Dorie Clark, of whom I am quickly becoming a  big fan, gave a talk at the Inbound Marketing Summit in October 2012 and it appears at podomatic.  In it, she describes techniques to improve your personal branding and develop yourself as thought leader.  To become a leader in your industry you need to be considered as a thought leader.

Dorie ClarkTo begin, you should identify what you can offer that no one else can.   Dorie tells the story of a woman with Wall Street experience who started working in the environmental advocacy field.  On Wall Street, she was one of many with similar skills.  An an environmental advocate, she was unique.  She took her skills and she established a niche for herself in a different field.  She also tells the story of a military helicopter pilot’s move from the military to business.  While initially it may seem that the pilot’s experience is unrelated to a corporate environment, there are many leadership skills that are transferable.  Dorie explains that it is important to connect the dots for people and tell them how your experience is unique and relevant.  You can tell your own story, so what narrative are you putting forth?

Once you have identified your niche, she offers excellent advice on how to build your personal brand and become recognized as a thought leader, including the following:

  • Affiliate yourself with a preexisting power brand.  She mentions Guy Kawasaki’s affiliation with Apple 30 years ago as an example of the power of an affiliation with a power brand.
  • Develop Wingmen.  While talking about yourself is bragging and off-putting, having someone else speak well of you builds your reputation.  If you hire a PR firm, that’s great, but you can also work with others in a mutually beneficial way.  You talk them up; they talk you up.  There is immense power in third-party validation.
  • Brand yourself with a cause or causes.   She tells about a local realtor who promises to donate $250 from every sale she closes to one of a list of charities.  This builds her reputation and brand especially for those who work with the charities.
  • Win Awards.  There are many awards given by a local chamber of commerce or business journal.  Apply for one or have a friend nominate you.  Awards beget awards.
  • Use Subtle cues.  Use your email signature, or Twitter tagline to provide cues to your brand.  Dorie tells of a hospital that hung the diplomas of physical therapists to improve patients’ comfort with and confidence in them.
  • Leverage your clips, in newspaper parlance.  Once you start blogging, be a guest blogger on other blogs; email the editor of a site, include what you’ve written and ask if s/he would like to talk further.
  • Cultivate relationships with the media.  This doesn’t mean taking them to lunch.  Media must blog, tweet and interact with their readership.  Follow them, interact with them, retweet  their tweets, and suggest story ideas.  After you have built a relationship with the media, tell them that if they ever need a quote or reference, they can contact you.
  • Be a leader in nonprofit organization.  Great way to build visibility and legitimacy and get people to come to you instead of you going to them.
  • Start your own organization.  If there isn’t a professional association focused on your niche, there’s an opportunity to create one.
  • Build your own multimedia mix.  Have a website, blog, tweet, create videos or create an app.

Dorie is writing a book which is due to be published in April entitled  “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future”  by Harvard Business Review Press.

Just one of the reasons I like this talk by Dorie so much is because she contrasts this with someone who does not take the initiative to build their brand but works hard and says you can’t control what other people think about you.  This is what I call the Cinderella mindset — work hard, be virtuous and some day Prince Charming will come and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.  Unfortunately, Cinderella is a fairly tale.  In contrast, Abraham Lincoln said “Good things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those that hustle.”    Dorie provides excellent advice for those who will hustle.  I can’t wait for her book.


  • Nathan S. Gibson

    Nathan S. Gibson is an independent worker compliance business partner who provides expertise and creative solutions to enhance workforce flexibility and maintain compliance. He helps mitigate the risks associated with the misclassification of self-employed consultants, freelancers and independent contractors.

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