In last month’s “Building the Brand of You” installment, I talked about where to start with your personal brand – what do you want it to say about you and how you want others to see you. I also talked about thinking about which channels and methods you’ll use to promote yourself. Today we’re going to dive right into determining your niche.
Figuring out your niche is the best way to start building your own brand. There are tons of people on social media and many with their own blogs and sites to share their ideas, so why should people pay attention to what you have to say? That’s where pinning down your niche and making it a part of your overall strategy.
So what make you you? What are your unique skills, expertise, strengths and interests? These are the things that will set you apart! Fellow PR girl, and one of my favorite bloggers, Kayla Hollatz, defines it best as finding your edge – “the characteristics that allow you to stand out among others.” Kayla even shares her own formula for defining your edge:
Your edge = your niche + (your expertise + your unique traits)
While I tend to think of all that as finding your niche, Kayla makes the good point that your niche is part of a bigger picture of what sets you apart. It’s a great way to think about yourself in the larger context of your industry and the even bigger social media and web landscape.
Your personal brand doesn’t need to be limited to all one subject all the time. As an example, my blog, and its social media, focus primarily on PR and career, but that’s not all that I’m interested in and my own social media accounts reflect that. I love PR, but I also love the New York Mets, reading, cooking and artsy-creative projects. It’s important to have interests outside your career, and even better if you can find a way to blend them all together from time to time. Connecting with other like-minded people that share your interests can help you to become part of a much larger community.
So how do you know what your niche, your edge, is? Ask yourself a few questions and do a little soul-searching to find out!
What are your strengths?
Make a list of the things you excel at – all the things. Break them down by what you really enjoy and are good at and what you’re good at, but don’t enjoy so much. (I’m pretty good with numbers, but I don’t like them so I don’t lump them in with things I actually enjoy and am good at, like writing.) Take a look at your lists and highlight or star your strongest assets and what you’re most interested in. This is your starting point.
What are your weaknesses?
Be honest about these. What are you not so good at? Write them down. Look at your list and mark any weaknesses that you want to improve. I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator, since excel at working on deadline and under pressure, and my brain tends to be a bit more cluttered than others, but these are things I constantly work on. Weaknesses don’t have to be failures – more often than not they’re areas of where you can improve and grow.
How do other people see you?
Ask your friends, loved ones, colleagues, connections, etc., how they see you. What are the first things that come to mind when they think of you? Knowing the reputation you already have can help you to either build on it, redefine it or manage it. How other people see you and think of you can help you uncover strengths and skills you hadn’t thought of before.
What do you enjoy?
What do you like to spend your time doing? When you get to pick how to spend time, what do you gravitate towards? What kind of books do you like to read? What are your favorite websites, movies, songs, tv shows, etc.? Separate your interests into things you like to do at work, things you like to do with other people and things you like to do in your free time. What you like can be more telling than anything else and is often a great jumping off point for figuring out other things, like where to focus, what to do with your life and what makes you different.
If you could do anything, what would you do?
Maybe it’s what you’re already doing. Maybe you dream of something big and completely off the wall. I’ve always said that if PR doesn’t work out in the long-run, my back-up plan is to open a restaurant. If you could do anything, no barriers or anything in your way, what would you do? Your dreams and desires are just as important as your skills.
What sets you apart?
Look at everything you’ve written down. What makes you different? What strengths align with your interests? What pieces can you use to carve out a special place for yourself in the world? These are the things that you should focus on. Focus on the things you’re good at, interested in and that set you apart from everyone else. This is how you find your niche!
**Ready to pinpoint your niche? Download this worksheet and follow the steps above!**