How to Build a Personal Brand

Q&A with Matthew Royse – Author of the Knowledge Enthusiast blog and managing editor of Forsythe Technology’s FOCUS Magazine

One of the most frequent requests I hear from Tech Breakfast Club (TBC) members is: How do I build my personal brand? You may be a pro at marketing your organization but, if you’ve neglected to market yourself you’ll have difficulty convincing your next employer you can do the job.

To help address the questions about personal branding, I turned to Matthew Royse, who was referred to me more than a year ago as a result of his own branding efforts. In less than five months, his personal branding efforts resulted in him being hired by our good friends at Forsythe Technology, where he’s now building FOCUS Magazine, a print and digital corporate resource.

Here are his answers to the questions you’ve asked:

Q:   Why do marketing professionals need to develop a personal brand?

A:  Just as we as marketing communications professionals need to best market our organizations, we need to best market ourselves to help our current company and for possible future career opportunities. This became painfully clear to me when I learned I was laid off in 2009. Looking back at the situation, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  It didn’t feel like it at the time. But it provided me with the motivation (and the time) to improve my personal brand, especially online, and the “Knowledge Enthusiast” blog was born. 

Q:  Why did you name your blog “Knowledge Enthusiast?”

A:   “Knowledge Enthusiast” came from my days at the National Geographic Channel.  We had a company contest to identify the type of audience the network was targeting. I happen to be in one of our target audience segments, 25- to 54-year old males, and my suggestion of “Knowledge Enthusiast” earned the grand prize: a gift card for a free cup of coffee at Caribou Coffee! The title “Knowledge Enthusiast” reinforces my quest to learn more about the world – especially marketing, PR and social media – and I want to share the knowledge I gain with others.

Q:  Who do you want to connect with online?

A:  When I started my efforts, I wanted to connect with those who were hiring marketing and PR managers. Today, I’m more interested in connecting with like-minded people who share my same desire for knowledge, or who may be going through transitions similar to the one I had to navigate when I got laid off.

Q:   What channels have you found most effective?

A: For business networking, I focus primarily on my blog, Twitter and LinkedIn. The content I push out through Twitter and LinkedIn generates followers of my blog, and also results in links back to my blog site. I have found Hootsuite helpful in managing my social media activity.

Q:  Are there any big wins or breakthroughs that TBC members could replicate?

A: My success has been the result of my consistency and desire to help others. For example, I mentioned to Ragan Communications that they would benefit from adding a social media share  buttons at the bottom of their articles, and they saw participation jump. As a result, Michael Sebastian, @msebastian, the founding editor of PR Daily, asked to me to be a contributor. Similarly, my guest posts to Gini Dietrich’s SpinSucks, “10 tips for becoming a more successful PR pro,” and “7 ways social media is changing PR” have given me incredible exposure. These efforts continueto help me get attention and traffic to my blog.

Q:  Who has influenced your approach to personal branding?

A:   I follow Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh and Dan Schawbel. Both have done an incredible job serving their constituents. I am also a big fan of Dale Carnegie, whose books reinforce the importance of seeing things from your audience’s perspective. As a result, I firmly believe that more than 60 percent of the content served up in any branding or thought leadership effort should be curated from articles you read and 40 percent from content you create. Be sure to read The Sweet Spot article from social media strategist Jay Baer.

Q: How do you deliver so much content?

A:  It’s not easy, but I have found few resources that aggregate useful content for me. Smart Briefs is one of those I use, as it does a great job of aggregating relevant articles in the spaces I’m monitoring. When I don’t have time, I’ve found that keeping your audience apprised of what you are doing and being consistent is more important than having something new every day or even every week. Right now, I’m juggling graduate school, a full-time job and a new baby, so I’ve placed a note on my blog regarding how often I plan on writing blog posts. I don’t want to disappoint my readers who’ve started to expect a certain level of activity from me, so I let them know that they should only expect a blog post once a month from me.

Q:  What have you learned from the experience? 

A:  Your personal brand is as much about what you don’t say as what you do say. You need to think about whom you want to follow and what content has value to your audience. 

Q:  What would you recommend to PR pros who want to get started in their personal branding efforts?

A:  I’m a big fan of lists, and you can find a wealth of ideas for building your social media influence on my Knowledge Enthusiast blog. Here are the top three things I would do if I was starting now:

  1. Connect with those you know on LinkedIn and make sure you only accept connections with people you know.  Also, optimize your profile for SEO. Don’t forget to create your personal LinkedIn URL.
  2. Identify LinkedIn groups that relate to your professional interests, and monitor them. Listen first and then contribute helpful insights. Don’t be too self promotional.

Don’t forget about offline network gatherings like Tech Breakfast Club or Social Media Club events. Whether you are talking on the phone or going to a networking event, personal connections still matter and will provide depth to your network

This entry was posted in Marketing & Public Relations, Social Media, Success Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

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  1. Corporate tech marketers who attend the Friday, Nov. 4, Chicago Tech Breakfast, will learn about personal and corporate branding strategies from fellow marketers at Cisco, Forsythe and IBM. RSVP early. Registration is limited:

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