Personal branding is one of the most effective strategies available for modern businesses. Because consumers generally distrust corporate brands, personal brands offer a unique way to build trust, facilitate customer loyalty and ultimately increase revenue. In addition to being a novel marketing strategy, it can also help your business with recruiting and put you in a better position for a career change down the road.
While the fundamental principles of personal branding are relatively easy to understand (it’s basically corporate branding applied to an individual), successfully implementing the strategy isn’t always straightforward—and it isn’t always pretty.
Here are six secrets nobody tells you about personal branding:
1. It isn’t for everyone.
It’s true that personal branding can be an effective strategy for almost any industry, but it isn’t exactly suited to any individual. To be successful, you’re going to have to interact with people on a daily basis, make new connections,and venture into new territories. Because of this, extroverts tend to execute personal branding strategies more efficiently and more successfully than introverts. That isn’t to say that introverts can’t be successful, but if you struggle to make new personal connections or you’re just not a social person, personal branding may not be right for you—or can be extremely challenging.
2. There is no formula.
There are some marketing strategies with an “if this, then that” model that allow you to reap some predictable rewards after putting in a calculated amount of effort and/or resources. Personal branding is not one of these strategies. Unfortunately, even though there are some bona fide best practices that can help you be successful, there’s no guarantee that certain actions will lead to certain results. This is due to the fact that personal branding comes down to your interactions with other individuals—and people are unpredictable. You’ll have to learn the ropes and make adjustments as you go along to find the best approach for your situation.
3. There are no shortcuts.
There are plenty of marketers out there who would like to believe that there are “hacks” or “shortcuts” that allow your personal branding campaign to suddenly take off. Among these are organic tricks like one-time implementations of content and more questionable tricks like paying for additional social-media followers. None of these tricks are going to work for your personal brand in the long run. There are no shortcuts to building a reputation; it takes time to see the kind of results you’re hoping for.
Related: Is Your Personal Brand Disruptive?
4. It isn’t exclusively online.
Personal branding evolved in part thanks to the popularity and ubiquity of social media. Social media is, of course, an integral part of any personal branding campaign, but you cannot rely on it exclusively to grow your reputation from the ground up. You’ll also need to have some face time with other professionals in your city at networking events, speaking events and even face-to-face meetings with some of the influencers you’ve met online. While forging new connections and following up with them online is fast and easy to do, networking in person tends to form stronger, more familiar bonds. Both are necessary for long-term success.
5. It doesn’t have to be tied to another strategy.
When working in conjunction with a content-marketing strategy or an SEO campaign, personal branding can be a powerful tool. However, personal branding doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to another strategy. It’s enough to implement your personal branding strategy on its own. Of course, you’ll still need to direct your followers and contacts somewhere if conversions are your ultimate goal but simply waiting for leads to come your way and directing them accordingly is enough to monetize your otherwise independent campaign.
6. You get out what you put in.
We’ve already established there are no shortcuts for personal branding. It all comes down to hard work. If you spend hours a day managing your personal brand and making new connections, you’re undoubtedly going to find success pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you set up your social accounts and try to let the rest take care of itself, you’re going to run into problems. Understand whether your personal branding campaign is a must-have pillar for your business or a side note, and prioritize your degree of effort accordingly.
Through personal branding, you should be able to increase your company’s influence, improve your reputation and win out on both a personal and professional level. Just keep in mind that personal branding is a long-term strategy that takes a serious commitment before you can start to see results. Only after several months of ongoing work will you be able to see meaningful improvements in your audience. The benefit to all that upfront work is that those benefits are exponential.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.