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I built my entire personal brand in just one year.
It was not a lazy year.
Personal branding is no joke.
I put in a TON of effort.
I said “NO” to plans. Stopped watching Netflix. Deleted social media apps from my phone. And I worked my ass off every day and every night.
I could not have predicted it would unfold the way it did. But now that I’m here, I can connect the dots looking backwards to share this process with you.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a little proof: the 1,040,500 views on one of my LinkedIn updates.
What follows, is the story of how I built my personal brand, followed by the steps you need to take to build yours.
How I Built My Personal Brand in 1 Year
Sometimes, the most life changing opportunities, begin with just one ask.
This is my mom.
She taught me how to ask.
I used to get uncomfortable when she’d ask:
Can we switch to that table near the window? Do you have a room with an ocean view? Can you offer a discount?
Why couldn’t she just take what we were handed and deal?
Now it boggles my mind when I see people passively take what they’re dealt.
You have to go after what you want. You have to ask, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
You don’t get what you don’t ask for, 100% of the time.
That’s not to say you’ll always get what you ask for. But if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t.
One day, I asked, and that changed everything.
I was a part of a Meetup group that hosted growth fireside chats every month. It consisted of 20,000+ marketers and founders around the world.
One day, the founder of the organization, Josh Fechter, announced he was moving to LA to start an agency.
I reached out.
I asked if he needed help managing the events here in San Francisco.
Overnight, I became the President of one of the largest groups of marketers and founders in the world.
This was just the beginning of how I built my personal brand.
I’ve now hosted interviews with hundreds of successful founders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs and have infused their lessons into my work and shared their lessons on Growth Marketing Pro.
Here’s a picture of me hosting my first event…
I remember being really nervous up there. But I was really impressed by the turn out. We had about 120 people show up.
It was a fireside chat with the woman who led marketing at Ticketfly and Amazon.
And then I began hosting these events every month.
Above is a picture of me interviewing the founder of Instapage.
And the crowds kept getting larger and larger for each event. People would stay after the interview and line up to ask the speaker questions.
This was an interview I did with Andrew Warner the founder of Mixergy.
We got a big crowd that night and People loved staying after to ask him questions.
I even got to interview my very own mentor and cofounder, Mark Spera. He and I cofounded Growth Marketing Pro, which is the very blog you’re reading right now. It was so much fun sharing our incredible marketing tactics that have consistently resulted in millions of dollars in revenue for startups around the world.
He even hacked into my photos and messed around with this one above, as you can see
But sooner or later, people started lining up after the event to ask questions to me! And people were loving these events and they started to grow like crazy.
This is when I knew I had something special going on and decided to go all in. I realized I had something special because I had knowledge that was helping people grow their business. I decided to focus even more of my time on it…
Above is a picture of the interview I did at 500 Startups with Josh Fechter, the founder of BAMF.
And the more positive feedback I got, the harder I worked. I kept working because I knew if I did, I could help more people. I had helped a lot of people already.
And soon after I got invited to speak in front of hundreds of people at Growth Marketing Conference. And that’s when the world really started to take notice.
I started to get invited to speak on podcasts.
And on radio shows…
And to guest lecture at business schools..
To sit on growth marketing panels
And then the tables really began to turn. Influencers started inviting me to be interviewed at fireside chats…
And on webinars…
And more webinars…
People couldn’t get enough. They wanted to know how I was able to be so successful at marketing. And I wanted to help as many people as I could
And then I got featured as a LinkedIn Influencer to watch– and when that happened, in swarmed thousands of LinkedIn connection requests and they never stopped.
Even today I can’t keep up, this is what my inbox started looking like…
I started getting invited to exclusive dinner parties for entrepreneurs and founders and venture capitalists. Here’s a photo of me at a dinner party with 14 founders and venture capitalists at a mansion in San Francisco.
And Mark and I leveraged my personal brand for the growth of Growth Marketing Pro. It helped our blog take off and become the largest growth marketing blog on the internet… we’re now making 6 figure income (soon to be 7 figure) completely passively!
I show you this not to show off and brag or anything like that, but to show you what’s possible when you stand up, take action and follow your dreams.
In 2016, nobody knew me from a hole in the wall. And now I’m teaching people all around the world how to get customers and grow their business.
Moving out to San Francisco and building my marketing career was a manifestation of me following my heart and living my dreams. Now I want to help you get hundreds, thousands or millions of customers so you can grow your business, build your personal brand and follow your dreams too.
These are the things you need to do, in chronological order, to build your personal brand in as little as one year.
How To Build Your Personal Brand
There is no ONE right way to build a personal brand. But this is the way I built mine, and it worked.
Four years ago, I left New York.
Leaving my family, friends and a relationship behind– I knew no one in San Francisco.
But I knew one thing: I had to make space for growth.
The decision to move across the country, to a city heavily concentrated with inspiring and like-minded people, is what ignited the most all-encompassing 2-year growth journey of my life.
And the best part?
Everything I’ve learned.
I sacrificed a lot to make space for growth.
– less sleep
– less Netflix
What I’ve found is that: as long as I’m learning, I’m energized.
And what’s the single most energizing thing I’ve learned?
— The secrets behind how to get customers and grow startups.
I consumed- blog posts, books, podcasts, conferences, coffee with experts (mostly my mentor, Mark).
I implemented my learnings.
These learnings became the basis for my personal brand.
These learnings turned me into an expert myself.
By now, I’ve stopped consuming, to focus on creating.
Creating tactical content- to help others achieve growth too.
Growth for their business, startup, marketing team and personal brand.
How are you making space for growth? Are you taking the time to learn?
2. Start a blog
With all these new learnings, came an urge to share.
I started this blog, Growth Marketing Pro, with my mentor and now business partner, Mark Spera.
We started this blog to keep track of our expertise and share it.
Mark was my manager at the first startup I worked at in San Francisco. The two of us LOVED brainstorming about marketing tactics.
We used to sit in our little sunny marketing corner overlooking the Bay Bridge with our feet up, laptops in our laps, scrolling through the latest funding announcements in Techcrunch.
“What channels would you use to grow THIS company?”
We’d riff off one another. It was so much fun.
Every company was different, with a different target customer and we loved talking about what we would do to make it grow.
We decided to take this passion and turn it into writing.
We had no idea how to start a blog when we began, so we learned and then we turned it into a blog post to help others start a blog too.
That’s pretty much the process we’ve taken with every blog post we’ve ever written.
3. Host events and leverage others to build your brand
In an effort to gain exposure for my blog, Growth Marketing Pro, and build our email list, I was compelled to start hosting events.
I had been to a bunch of growth events in San Francisco, and figured I could start hosting my own events. I would interview marketers and founders at reputable companies and growth-minded individuals would sign-up to attend. So I reached out to a friend of mine who was the Director of Marketing at Instapage, to see if he would be my first fireside chat guest. We met for coffee in front of the LinkedIn headquarters.
“Now is a really great time for you to start hosting growth events in San Francisco,” he said. “Why?” I asked.
“Josh Fechter, the founder of BAMF, hosts events like this all the time, but he’s moving to LA to start an agency.”
DING DING DING
My opportunity alarm went off. “You should reach out,” he said.
Now that was a good idea. I opened my LinkedIn app and sent Josh a message…
“Hey Josh, I hear you’re moving to LA to launch an agency — congrats!
I don’t know if you thought about it yet, but if you need help maintaining the events here in San Francisco, I’d be happy to be your stunt double.”
He responded immediately, “Hey Hailey can you get lunch right now? This is good timing, I had plans to sell the group in 1 hour from now.”
I met Josh for lunch immediately and I convinced him not to sell the group.
The next morning I awoke to THOUSANDS of Facebook and Linkedin messages.
Josh had announced that I would take over as the San Francisco President of the BAMF organization.
With over 20,000 members worldwide, this was one of the largest groups of marketers and founders in the world. The messages didn’t stop pouring in for weeks — congratulations, interview requests, job offers, you name it.
This was the beginning of a lot of open doors. But it all started with an interest in hosting events.
I’ve now hosted interviews with hundreds of successful founders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs and have infused their lessons into my work and shared their lessons on Growth Marketing Pro.
5. Build your Linkedin network
LinkedIn is my social media platform of choice.
Why? Because LinkedIn is an incredible source of exposure for you and your personal brand among the exact audience you care about.
The platform has not yet been saturated with paid ads, so you can still drive massive traffic to your posts or your site for free by just posting regularly on LinkedIn.
I uncovered a specific list of tactics to get my Linkedin posts to go viral. Like the time I got over a million views on one post… and turned that into $10s of thousands in sales on this blog.
LinkedIn is the perfect place to connect with people professionally and there are a number of secret tools that let you build your network at scale.
I’ve never shared them with the public before, but this was a key piece to building my personal brand.
I built mine on LinkedIn with a tool called Linked Helper.
I used Linked Helper to send out messages and connection requests at scale.
I simply entered a criteria of Titles and Geographies of people I wanted to connect with, and sent them messages on autopilot. Thanks to this tool, I’m now LinkedIn connected with nearly every marketer, founder & CMO in the Bay Area.
If you focus on building your LinkedIn Network locally, this is a great way to increase attendance at your events.
Here’s an example of the messages I would send:
“Hey Teresa, I noticed you’re also involved in the marketing community and wanted to connect 🙂 I help marketers & founders get customers at growthmarketingpro.com and I also host local marketing events. The next event is coming up next week and I’d love to see you there! Sign up here.”
6. Have a voice
Now that you’ve got this expanding LinkedIn audience and exposure from your events, now is a great time to begin establishing your voice as a thought leader in your space.
You can do this by beginning to post on LinkedIn or your social media channel of choice.
A few words of warning for when you begin sharing your voice on LinkedIn or other social media channels:
- It’s fun. It can be addicting to keep checking hourly how many more views, likes and comments your post is getting.
- It’s scary. It can be intimidating to press send. Putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way is something most of us are not used to doing.
- You’ll be surprised. People are incredibly encouraging. You’ll be met with warmth. Words of kindness, words of thanks and people will often share their heartfelt stories in return.
- You’ll be hurt. There will always be haters. Every. Single. Time. Someone will say something obnoxious. Even if it’s completely irrelevant, and you know they sound dumb and cruel for saying it, it will still sting. Just shake it off. You’ll get used to it. Their comment may get a like or two. That will pale in comparison to your beautiful post that just went viral, touching millions of lives with thousands of likes, shares and comments.
- Doors will open. Strangers will reach out to connect. You’ll meet new people and have conversations that will lead to opportunities you couldn’t possibly have predicted.
7. Be seen
As you start to share your story, people will start to know, like and trust you. But your story does not need to be just written. You should also share pictures of you on your journey. This is an important part of building your personal brand.
Share a photo of you and a parent who inspires you. Every meeting you have and event you attend, is an opportunity to document your experience. Take a selfie with a conference speaker, take a picture of yourself and a colleague during a massive brainstorm. When you promote your events, include a picture of yourself on the registration page. Let people in on your journey. Be seen.
8. Be a moderator
The best part about hosting events, especially at the beginning, is that you don’t have to be the center of focus. You can simply be the moderator. This takes the pressure off you because you don’t really need to provide the content. The content is coming from the speaker you are interviewing.
Now don’t get me wrong, you will still need to do your homework to make sure you’re asking the right questions. But if you have a fun personality and you’re comfortable on stage (or can get comfortable over time), being a moderator is a great low[er] pressure way to get in front of an audience.
Once people began to know and like my personality as a moderator at my own events, I started getting invited to moderate panels at larger events and conferences as well.
9. Speak at small local events
After hosting and attending enough events as a moderator, it became clear that I had my own expertise to pull from and contribute to the conversation. That’s when people began to reach out to interview ME at their events.
This was an exciting turn of events. Having the spotlight shift onto yourself means it’s time to get comfortable sharing your own experiences with an audience.
The easiest way to get started is by being a fireside chat guest at small local events. This format keeps things simple because you’re being interviewed, which means you can just answer questions and pull from your life experiences.
10. Speak at conferences
After landing interviews at small local events, I found myself being invited to speak on panels at conferences. This was a great next stepping stone. Being on a panel is an easy way to get started in front of a larger audience without too much pressure. You’re alongside 3 or 4 other experts, which means only a fraction of the eyes are on you. You’re still expected to have an opinion and to banter with the other experts. It’s a great brand building experience to be alongside other experts in your space.
You’ll know you’ve hit the major leagues when you start getting invited to speak alone. This means preparing presentation decks and standing on stage alone for 30-60 minutes teaching content. When it comes to building your personal brand, this is one of the greatest opportunities you can come by. For me, standing on stage, sharing my journey, my expertise and my personality with an audience, has unlocked the most new doors and potential in my career.
11. Speak on Podcasts
These days, everyone is listening to podcasts.
Podcasts are interviewing thousands of experts in every space. Why couldn’t you be one of them?
Not only is it free to be a guest on a podcast, but you also get an incredible amount of airtime with the podcast listeners. It’s very intimate and a great way to build your personal brand.
Sound too good to be true? Think it’s difficult to land podcast interviews? That’s where you’re wrong.
You could take the time to research your space and pitch podcast hosts about your expertise. OR you could do what I did…
I hired an expert team to send me on a “Podcast Tour”. And you can go on a Podcast Tour too.
They booked me for 3-5 podcast interviews every month without me lifting a finger. They organized everything, from creating pitch emails and materials, managing the calendar scheduling, to creating detailed notes about the show and host for me to review before each interview.
It does take a few months between recording the podcast interview and having it go live, but I have been very impressed with their services.
If you’d like to go on a Podcast Tour yourself, shoot me an email and I will introduce you to the team I hired: [email protected]
12. Become a creator
By now you’ve spent all this time learning, sharing and speaking.
But now it’s time to get back to that blog you started and commit to documenting your knowledge.
Begin creating valuable and original content in your space. If you like to write, start a blog. If you like to talk, start a podcast. If you like to perform, start a youtube channel. Find a way to create, share and document your knowledge for the world.
If you pick a blog, like I did, you can use a tool like SEMRush to find out where there is the highest search volume and lowest competition on a keyword in your space.
Once you find your keyword, set out to write the best piece of content on the internet that covers that topic. Do some research on Quora to find out the types of questions that people in your space are asking, and start answering them on your blog.
13. Deliver value
The best thing you can do for your personal brand is to always deliver value. It’s one thing to use your personal brand as a platform to yammer away and share self-inflating nonsense. It’s a far more respectable thing to always deliver value.
When I say value, I mean share tactical learnings that people can walk away with and implement themselves. Create a downloadable eBook or template or tool or resource that people can use for free today.
Over the years I’ve created dozens of tools and trainings and resources to help businesses grow. For example, I created The Perfect Webinar Script for those trying to create their first webinar.
When it comes to my personal brand, whether it’s speaking at an event, posting on Linkedin, or writing a blog post, it is my goal to make sure that people always walk away with value.
Email is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s where people conduct all their most important communications and it is a great place to build a relationship with your audience.
You can start collecting emails like I did by hosting your own events, but there are many other ways to build an email list. The first thing you should do is start using a tool like Hellobar to begin collecting emails from visitors on your website. You will also collect emails from anyone who downloads a piece of your valuable content or resources.
Funnel these people into an email sequence using a tool like Convertkit where they are constantly being delivered value. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your space within the inbox of your audience. Share quick tips, advice, share your story and experiences, share case studies and results, share webinar invites and more.
You can use this content calendar template to plan out what emails you will send to customers and when.
15. Sell something
Whether it’s your consulting time, a book you wrote, a product you built, now these people have come to know, like and trust you. They’ve heard your story, they’ve seen your face, they’ve learned from you and gained value from you. And now they’re ready to buy something from you.
There are lots of ways to sell things online. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, you will want to use Weighted Growth Hacking to ensure you’re picking the right marketing channels to get you customers.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to sell a high-ticket item online is via a webinar. There is a specific science to it though, so if you’re ready to sell to your audience via webinar, you’ll want to read this post I wrote about about how to make sales online via webinar.
Building a personal brand is something that can be done by anyone.
I did it, and so I know you can do it too by following the steps outlined above.
If it seems like a lot of work, you’re right, it was. But again, it only took ONE year. And now I can reap the benefits of that effort for the rest of my career.
Are you ready to make the investment in yourself?