I’ve known Phil Gerbyshak for over 10 years.
But when I interviewed him in episode six, season two, of Freelance to Founder, I discovered all kinds of new things about him that I never knew. I’m glad he and I had that chat.
He doesn’t know I’ve published this post about him, it’s going to come as a surprise. But I need to say a few things about Phil. I do this because though he’s a friend, there’s a lot I admire about Phil. And he is the epitome of a personal brand.
Yes, there are many pseudo-celebrities in the business world that you think of first when I use the term ‘personal brand.’ But some of those folks are popular simply because we knew their companies first. Ev Williams of Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.
To me, you have a personal brand when people know you as a clear and separate identity from the company you work for or lead. And you have a strong personal brand when people choose to do business with you because of how you’ve positioned yourself on your own two feet, regardless of and distinct from your business.
Much has been written about personal brands
The latest to step forward and teach us about what it means to build a personal brand is Mark Schaefer of the BusinessGrow blog. His book: Known. It’s awaiting some free time before I can get to it on my Kindle.
And before John, Michael Hyatt wrote what many consider the definitive book on the subject, Platform. I devoured this when it first came out. It’s a tremendous treatment of the subject and provided the best term for what I agree that everyone needs to build: a platform.
Yesterday, I also mentioned Tom Peters’s The Brand You.
As you cull through these books, and others on the subject, you learn quickly how important it is to first identify who you are and what your most vital contribution can be to the world. These are steps one and two in building your personal brand.
Another key element of building a powerful personal brand is showing up in the right places where your target market is. You should have have a primary ‘hub’ that you’d like to ultimately send people to—and that hub may very well not be your company’s website—but you also establish social outposts (Chris Brogan’s wonderful term, and he himself wrote a tremendous book that’s loosely on the topic of personal branding, Trust Agents) where you set up residency to engage and provide value to the world. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, maybe even Pinterest, or Reddit, Google+, and so forth.
How Phil excels in building his personal brand
I’m a student of personal brand-building. I believe it’s the future for how small business owners market their companies. Yes, it’s the future even though some have been talking about its importance for the last 15 years.
From my research on the topic, I believe you have a strong personal brand when the following elements are in place:
- You have a company you work for or lead that has a separate name, brand, and web presence.
- You have one main hub that you own and control where your target audience can find you.
- You have social outposts where you authentically engage a community through sharing ideas and content—not simply linking people to your special offers.
- You have at least one big idea that you offer the world, that is free.
- You are known for a distinctive service that also provides value, which is not free.
- You have a personality that is clear, beyond the company you work for.
- You have a thoughtful manner in which you ‘funnel’ your audience into followers and, later, customers.
- You show up consistently and consciously.
Phil checks every one of these boxes with gusto. Let me highlight how he does so, so you can learn from him in considering your own personal brand.
1. You have a company you work for or lead that has a separate name, brand, and web presence
Phil works for Vengreso, as one of its seven founders. It’s a new agency dedicated to social selling. I can think of few people who can likely train others on this subject —with authenticity I should add —than Phil Gerbyshak.
2. You have one main hub that you own and control where your target audience can find you
You can find Phil at philgerbyshak.com. That is his site where you can get inside his read, learn what he’s thinking about, and it’s entirely separate from Vengreso.
3. You have social outposts where you authentically engage a community through sharing ideas and content—not simply linking people to your special offers
If you know Phil at all, you know he’s stellar at social engagement. On Facebook in particular, you’ll occasionally find Phil offering his thoughts on things like any other human. But just as often, if not more, you’ll witness Phil asking for why others do what they do, or why they think what they think. And then he sits back, comments thoughtfully and periodically, but avoids the temptation to tell people why they’re right or wrong.
When it comes to Twitter, Phil is constantly sharing others’ good ideas in order to provide value to his audience of 14,000 followers.
4. You have at least one big idea that you offer the world, that is free
Listen to Conversations with Phil, his podcast. Phil has new episodes numerous times per month, with tremendous interviews where he really digs in with his guests. He shows up regularly, with insightful questions and good guests.
In your case, maybe it’s an online course you teach, or an email series, that’s separate from the free content you provide through your company.
In Phil’s case, he’s very well known for simply adding value to peoples’ day through social channels. It just so happens that’s what he teaches salespeople and others to be. So that’s fortunate. He models exactly what he teaches, but if you want to learn the concrete how-tos, sign up for one of his training classes on how he uses Twitter or LinkedIn, or other social tools.
Here’s an example of Phil in action on Twitter:
— Phil Gerbyshak (@PhilGerb) July 27, 2017
6. You have a personality that is clear, beyond the company you work for
Proof is in the pudding on this one. Phil has been Phil to me for over 10 years. He only recently started Vengreso. he could have started Phil Gerbyshak Social Selling and many would follow and contract with him all the same.
7. You have a thoughtful manner in which you ‘funnel’ your audience into followers and, later, customers
The best way to see this in action is to simply follow Phil or interact with him. There’s never a hard sell. He practices what he preaches.
8. You show up consistently and consciously
Phil more than delivers here, as you can tell just from me singing his praises. But the consciously part can be found in posts like this