Personal branding isn’t just about getting people to believe you’re good at something. You actually have to be good at it for your message to resonate. The key is to back your brand up with true authenticity. Here’s how.

No one wants to blend into the crowd; we all want to stand out and be recognized for what we are good at doing. At the same time, our customers have more options than ever before. It takes just a few seconds for someone to search Google and find 10 people who do the same thing you do. The last thing you want to hear when being compared to your competition is, “It doesn’t matter who you choose — they’re all the same.”

That’s why everyone can benefit from a strong personal brand. No matter what you do, you can take steps to make people think of you when they think of your niche. But you also need to be good at something worth recognizing.

Trickery Is the Fastest Way to Kill Your Credibility

I was recently asked, “How do you get prospects to believe that you know the market better than your competition does?” My immediate response was, “Do you actually know that market better than your competition?” If the answer is no, you need to work on your skills before marketing them.

We all have our internal BS meters for judging others. But consumers rank trust and transparency as high as or higher than product quality when deciding whether to make a purchase, according to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual survey measuring the credibility of business and other institutions. Consumers are starting to see the world more in terms of “real” and “fake,” often basing their purchasing decisions on how genuine they perceive an offer to be.

You need to be authentic for your brand to stand out, but some people confuse authentic with being unique or original. The true definition of authentic is being genuine and reliable. Credibility is slightly different; it’s the quality of being trusted and believed in. I can’t magically give you integrity or make you trustworthy. That is the work you must do on your own. But I can show you how to leverage your assets to build a reputation that attracts others to want to work with you.

Identify Authenticity in Your Niche

Modeling others is how we learn. It’s okay to look to role models in your niche to see what they’re doing. As a matter of fact, you might want to study several successful people.

As you look at these people, write down the things you like and don’t like about what they are doing. Look at their content — their articles, emails, videos and overall presentation. Now write down how you would improve upon each of these things based on your own goals and values. This is where you put your personal twist in everything to separate yourself from other successful people in your niche.

Define Your Values and Mission

Do you have a mission, a manifesto, or your own personal rules to live by? I’m sure you do; it’s likely that you just haven’t taken the time to write them all down. Is it your commitment to support a specific cause? Is it your dedication to building products that will change people’s lives? Whatever it is, it’s important to own it, so choose something that you’re passionate about. Values drive action.

Here are some of my core values:

  • Grow relationships, not just transactions.
  • Your word is a promise to be kept.
  • Consideration should always be given, but respect is earned.
  • “Not my job” is not an excuse.
  • Hard work is a magnet for good luck.
  • The more people you help, the greater your chances for success.

Warning: Don’t half-heartedly commit to a set of values that you’re not fully ready to embrace. This is the best way to kill a brand. Your customers will see through the ruse and it will only damage your reputation. If you want to take a deeper dive into figuring out your brand mission and building a following around it, take this Personal Brand Self-Assessment to find the answers.

Learn How to Engage on Social the Right Way

When you’re clearer about who you are and what you stand for, connect with others in your niche on social media. This doesn’t just mean sharing your own stuff online. Rather, this is about engaging with the content of others — and this is how you do it:

  • Get there first. It may sound childish, but someone who posts something they think is important is more likely to notice the first few comments — and possibly when they receive the first comment notification.
  • Get there really late. Comment on relevant dormant posts on someone’s blog or social profiles so your replies stand out and spark up a conversation on the topic at hand.
  • Show some love. Say thanks for whatever was shared to add an extra point of value — an easy action on your part that’s really a no-brainer.
  • Acknowledge special occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, and graduations are all wonderful occasions to say hello to people you know and want to stay in contact with.
  • Try using video. If you post a message with a video of your salutation, it will stand out above all the rest.
  • Add a link. And make sure it leads to a resource of value. Do this only if it will add to the conversation and help others in the thread, and avoid being self-promotional.
  • Don’t be afraid to go deep. If the post happens to be about your area of expertise, feel free to add a lengthy reply, even if it’s only an opinion.
  • Comment as much as you can. By commenting regularly on others’ content, you’ll get noticed and, over time, build worthwhile connections with those folks.

Launch a Blog Worth Reading

Most, if not all, of your online communications will connect back to your blog. But if you don’t have one, God knows where consumers will find out more about your perspective on the world. Blogs come with lots of added benefits, including:

  • Establishing your authority. Your blog is the hub of your personal branding efforts, where you share your expertise in an effort to establish authority in your niche. You might say making deposits in your authority bank is the very definition of personal branding.
  • Attracting new business. The majority of brands that blog acquire more customers.
  • Inspiring your social media. You’ll promote your blog posts regularly and take advantage of the magical amplification of social networks.
  • Increasing your reach. Your blog will be shared and find new eyeballs daily.

Display Your Authenticity Everywhere

Your brand is what others think about you when you’re not in the room. Make sure the real you resonates in everything you do: your writing, your videos, your speaking, your business cards, and your public and private correspondence. It’s about consistency.

Personal branding is an important part of a digital marketing strategy for any real estate professional, whether you’re new or experienced. If you care about your reputation online and off, then establishing a strong personal brand is just the process of sharing what you stand for.

Are you ready to be recognized for who you really are?