IMPACT: Why You Need Both Personal Branding and Thought Leadership

My good friend and my co-founder at The Business Ignite Project, Nick Barnsdall is the author of Better Business Better Life and the co-founder of the Navig8biz Community. He runs webinars and online courses for small business and hosts the Better Business Podcast. But 10 years ago he was a CEO with a strong aversion to personal branding.

You see, 10 years ago Nick would have laughed if you’d told him that someday he would be out in front of an audience, with a strong personal brand behind him. At the time he was highly reluctant to put himself out there, and he certainly didn’t want to be in the spotlight. But he needed to get out and reach people. So, he agreed to have a LinkedIn profile and digital presence.

And it worked. People liked him. They trusted him. And he realised that through these channels he could build his audience, earn their trust and expand his influence. That meant that he was able to reach people, and speak to them about his business and opportunities. Since then Nick has built 34 companies, is the owner and director of 13 companies and his businesses generate over $100 million each year. And much of that comes down to his high level of personal brand equity.

Personal Brand: What is it, and why does it matter?

Personal branding is marketing you and your career. It is developing your reputation and consolidating your impressions so that you are showing the world what you want to be known for. In short, it’s self-packaging your values for your audience.

But why does it matter? ‘I don’t do social media’, is a mantra we hear so often, especially among C-suite executives and leaders. In fact, nearly 61% of CEOs lack a social media presence. But 82% of employees trust a company more when the leadership team has a social media presence. And trust is the most important asset you have in your business and in your brand.

Trust inspires your employees and your community. Trust reassures your customers and clients. And trust makes your business a success. Trust is perhaps more important today than it’s ever been before. Today we’re buying services and products from people we’ve never met, in locations we’ve never been to. Trust is what lets us have confidence in undertaking those transactions.

Your personal brand is your tool for demonstrating your personal trustworthiness. And personal branding is the future of work. That’s why it matters.

Thought Leadership: What it is, and why it’s important

Where personal branding is the future of work, thought leadership is the future of the community.

Thought leadership is the act of providing information and ideas to your community. It’s the process of sharing your expertise and leading your niche and industry into greater understanding.

As Matt Church, founder of Thought Leaders, says, ‘Subject matter experts know something, and thought leaders are known for knowing something.’ When you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, potential clients and customers inherently trust you more. They will seek you out for the knowledge and value you add to their own lives.
Having Impact in a Noisy World
According to analysts from Technavio, the content creation industry is projected to be worth $412.88 billion by the end of 2021. This means the world is noisier, individual voices have less cut through, brands and organisations are more commoditised and consumers have more choice. All that makes it hard to have an impact.

When you have a position brand pillars and at least one platform then you’re able to have insight, influence and impact. Your pillars are the key messages that arise out of your personal branding — or what you want to be known for. Your platforms are where you share your thought leadership. And your positioning is the intersection of both.

When you bring personal branding and thought leadership together, you’re suddenly elevating the benefits of each. It’s this intersection that creates really high trust, insights, impact, influence and, ultimately, authority. And it’s at this intersection that you can really reach others leading to cut through and future success.

Key Actions to Take

1. Identify the key messages that are the pillars of your personal brand, or what you want to be known for.

2. Identify the relevant platforms that will help you increase your influence.

3. Create content that will allow you to share your thought leadership and build impact.

Personal branding is incredibly important for all people in business, whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation or a sole trader offering marketing services. It’s the future of work. And as the future of community, thought leadership is equally important. Separately these two aspects of business can do amazing things for building trust and leading you on the path to success. But together, they’re unstoppable. Together they bring you impact, influence and cut through ensuring your success.

Love to hear your thoughts…

Originally published at on May 6, 2021.