No one has mastered personal branding as well as Gary Vaynerchuk. He started with a wine business and is now a well known figure in the tech and entrepreneur community. Let’s look at how he did this: launches online wine store in 1997, starts podcast in 2006, heavy twitter user, begins doing speaking gigs, replies to every email, starts angel investing, gets book deal, starts VaynerMedia, etc. etc. etc.
Very impressive, but how can we learn from him to benefit our own careers? He knew how important it was for him to build his personal brand along with his company. WineLibrary started everything, but he knew it would not be the last thing he did. The podcast is what really made him famous. Being in front of a camera five days a week is a great way to become well-known and have people remember you. It also worked really well for Kevin Rose doing Diggnation. The platform of video podcastinng is a very powerful one that can pay great dividends if you put in the time and effort.
Gary Vaynerchuk is also very famous for replying to every email and responding to a ton of people on Twitter. He no longer responds to every email, but he did it for many years and it no doubt greatly enhanced his image. Also, if you look at his Twitter page you will see the majority of his tweets are @ replies to people. This stuff obviously takes a lot of time, but it has worked very well for him. These strategies are not for the faint of heart, but if you are willing to put in the work it can really help boost your online profile and help you stand out.
As Gary has shown, using social media channels well is a must. What’s great about social media is the ability to communicate with your customers or fans, and even start a dialogue with people you have never met. Learn what social media sites will work best for you and start spending a lot of time on them learning how they work.
Not everyone believes personal branding is important because they think it takes time away from your business. This is an understandable concern and it’s true that the business is the most important thing, but personal branding should not be neglected. You need to find a good balance between the two. The reason building your personal brand is important is because you want to have a future after your current business. Most likely you will not be running the same business forever ; it may fail, get acquired, or anything else, but you want to have a strong online presence when that happens. Whenever Kevin Rose or Gary Vaynerchuk launches a new project, they have a large audience waiting to use it. Seth Godin and Fred Wilson do this through blogging and so they also have a great distribution channel whenever they want to announce something. Do not underestimate the importance of this because regardless of how good your product is, if you can’t get users then it cannot do well. This is why it’s important to be a content producer and to leverage your business to the fullest. If you look at some of your favorite entrepreneurs on Twitter you will see some are very active and have many followers, and then others are not and don’t have many followers.
Learn from the best, study them and see how they keep their followers engaged. Even if you have no interest in writing books or giving keynotes, it’s important to have a large network of people paying attention to you if you ever plan on launching a new business.