Episode 532 of Marketing Smarts is here to change your perceptions about personal branding, especially if you think it's "not for you."

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Personal branding isn't only for self-employed thought leaders with websites named after them, explains branding expert Christine Gritmon. You can be an great employee and have a personal brand.

"[People] feel like either they’re a nice loyal employee who keeps their head down and gets the job done for their employer or they’re a personal brand who is able to live out their own dreams and get their own recognition. It really isn’t a choice," says Christine.

Among other insights shared in the podcast:

Personal brand is about making yourself valuable. "If you keep showing up with value, people are going to start asking you to show up with value. They’ll ask you to be on their podcast, they’ll ask you to speak at their events, they’ll ask you to write a guest blog post, they’ll ask to come in and consult." (22:25)

Personal brand is about looking outward, not inward. "Stop thinking about how you’re going to look or if you’re going to sound stupid or no one wants to hear from you. No. What do other people need? What are other people looking for information on? What are other people looking for thoughts on?" (31:31)

Personal brand is about earning respect by solving people's problems. "People think you’re smart not because you say things that go over their heads. People think you’re smart because you said something they needed to hear, they tried it, and it worked. (33:24)

Most important of all, Christine emphasizes, is to get out of your own head long enough to take action. "Don't overthink it," she says. "Do be intentional, but don't overthink it."

Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

This episode brought to you by Momentive.


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"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

Full Transcript: Why B2B Marketers and Executives Need Personal Branding

George B. Thomas: Do you have a personal brand? Do you care if you have a personal brand? Should you? Today we’re going to have that conversation on why B2B marketers and executives need personal branding in 2023 and beyond. As always, I’m not alone. I’m here with Christine Gritmon. She’s going to cover things that keep her up at night, success stories, the how, the what, the why, all of the things that we should be paying attention to as B2B marketers.

Christine Gritmon empowers professionals to step into their personal brands in a bigger, bolder way on social media. You can do it, she’ll teach you how. She has spoken on stages worldwide and is a frequent expert guest on podcasts, livestreams, Twitter chats, and blog posts, as well as hosting her own weekly podcast Let’s Talk About Brand and its companion Twitter chat #ChatAboutBrand. She’s also the senior editor of the Social Media Pulse Community, a one-stop destination for social media professionals to receive training, tips, conversations, and connections.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a good one. There are so many nuggets of wisdom. It’s time to have this conversation about why you as a B2B marketer or why you as an executive should care about personal brand in 2023 and beyond. Let’s get into the good stuff.

I’m super excited because when I saw this come through in my inbox, I was like yes, this is a conversation we need to have because for the last 10, if not 15 years, I have been working inside companies building a personal brand and realize the power in which can happen for B2B marketers and executives if you’re paying attention to a personal brand. There’s a whole bunch of questions you might be asking. Isn’t it the company brand? Why would it be my brand? Who am I? Why should I do this? We’re going to answer all of those questions and more.

I’m not alone, as usual, I have somebody who is super smart. Christine Gritmon, how are you doing today?

Christine Gritmon: Hi. I’m doing all right, George. How are you?

George: I’m doing fantastic because we are bringing value to the Marketing Smarts listeners. Speaking of value, you probably know as a listener where I like to start with this podcast. What the heck keeps you up at night on marketers and/or executives either having or not having a personal brand in 2023 and beyond?

Christine: We’re going to start a personal branding revolution here. What keeps me up at night is the idea, like you said, that people feel the need to choose. They feel like it’s either or, as opposed to yes and. They feel like either they’re a nice loyal employee who keeps their head down and gets the job done for their employer or they’re a personal brand who is able to live out their own dreams and get their own recognition. It really isn’t a choice. It has been in the past, and it still is at some places, but that is changing rapidly. It is definitely evolving.

Even though personal branding is a bit of an overused term right now, I haven’t really come up with anything better. We are definitely in a time of the personal brand being normalized to the point where if you don’t have one, if you are not known, liked, trusted, it kind of raises questions at this point.

George: I totally agree with you. I think it’s really interesting, the fact of this known, liked, trusted, and the way that actually can impact, even as an employee or as an executive, your day in and day out conversations and the way that people will engage with you versus if you’re coming in cold.

I want to keep diving down because I think we’re going to get into the good stuff and it’s going to be layers, almost like an onion that we’re going to peel here.

Christine: Oh, we’re getting into it.

George: Folks, hang on, buckle up, get the notepad ready, because you’re going to need it. You even said in your last little piece there that you haven’t really figured out a better way to say it. I want to start there. When we have this conversation for the rest of this episode around what we’re labeling as personal brand, what exactly do we mean? I do have a George B. Thomas logo, but most people aren’t going to be like, “I’m going to be purple and have a logo.” So, what do we mean by personal brand in this conversation?

Christine: I can have this conversation all day long. Personal brand, the way that I define it—and different people will define it differently—I like to think of it as the version of you that lives in other people’s heads. That’s a narrative that you really ought to want to have some control over.

There’s a lot of nuance there. There’s the concept of having a strong network, which professionals, executives, B2B people have long understood the importance of having a strong network. That means that you have people who know you who actually know you, there has been some level of contact there. Then there’s being known. I actually had a great conversation with Mark Schaefer about this, who of course wrote the book Known. Being known means that people who you don’t know do know who you are. It’s a level outside of that.

At the same time, being known isn’t necessarily the same as having a personal brand. The thing that I think differentiates having a personal brand is not only is there a story about who you are in people’s head, people know who you are and they know why they know who you are. There’s relevance there, there is context there. It’s not just that they know who you are, it’s also that they know why they should care.

George: So good. Perception is power, and paying attention to what you want that perception to mirror back to you is so important. I love that you mentioned Mark Schaefer, because in the future we actually have an episode scheduled, The Why, How, and What of Community and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing Victory with Mark Schaefer. That’s coming up soon later this year, so keep listening and be prepared for that one.

So, we know what we mean as move forward. But if I’m going to take time to do something, there’s one thing that I have to put into my brain, that is the importance of said thing. Otherwise, I quit walking, I quit going to the gym, I quit eating the right things, whatever it is. I listen to this podcast, I’m like personal brand, let’s do it, but then I fade away like my New Year’s resolution.

Why the heck is a personal brand important to marketers and executives now, and why is it changing, like you said in your answer to the first question, what’s happening? Why is it important and what’s happening?

Christine: The importance to the person of having their own personal brand hasn’t really shifted as much as that second part, which is its importance to employers and the company.

I’ll start with us, the employee, the person who has a personal brand. Whether they’re an employee or not, you could be a solopreneur, you could be a professional thought leader, whatever you are. The reason it’s important to have a personal brand, first of all, because you want to be in relevant people’s heads, you want people to know who you are, you want them to have context and why. You also don’t want to be misunderstood. You want people to know who you are and what you stand for.

In addition to that, what that does, besides a nice ego boost, is it gives you freedom, it gives you choice of opportunities. If you’ve done personal branding in what I consider the best way, which is to tie it to who you are, what your gifts are, what you stand for, more so than a specific position or task. What it does for you is it allows to launch into other areas if you would like.

My own personal brand, since I got serious about building it, has actually led me through three different pivots of exactly what I do, and it all worked because I had my foundations clear of why I was doing these things and how what I was doing and moving into really fulfilled that. People had that trust there. They didn’t say, “Wait, we knew you for this thing. Now you’re this thing? That seems a little shady.” There was a trust there that enabled people to make that journey with me.

I think now more than ever, honestly, we’re seeing all of the layoffs happening, we’re seeing huge layoffs in tech, huge layoffs in SaaS, huge layoffs all over the place. It really puts you at a strong disadvantage if you haven’t been building that personal brand that whole time, because suddenly you’re just a name in a pile of resumes, as opposed to being almost a destination in and of yourself. People saying, “We could get that person?” That’s the position you want to be in.

It’s also to your advantage to keep building that while you are happily employed, when you don’t want to shift gears, because it keeps your skills sharp, you are not just narrowed down into the little box of the task that you’re currently performing. It shows that you are constantly learning and evolving and building. It is a great way to build new relationships. Again, it builds up that presence, which can also benefit your employer.

This is the part that’s kind of newer. Previously, and still in many companies today, a lot of employers look at employees having strong personal brands and feel threatened. They feel like, “I don’t want you having a personal brand. You’re mine.” I liken it to if your partner doesn’t want you going out looking good. It’s kind of sketchy. You should want your employees to be people who work for you because they want to, not because they don’t have any other options. I think that’s really key.

I also think it is actively to a company’s benefit because every industry, no matter what industry you’re in, there are those thought leaders, there are those people who others look to as a source of guidance, as a source of leadership. The people who work for you are already doing that job, they’re already invested in that work, and hopefully they already have incredible expertise to share. Why not have them become those people in the industry that people are looking to?

That will do a few things. First of all, it makes your company look good because you have this smarty at your particular party. In addition to that, it’s good for awareness of your company because sometimes people will see the person first. People are able to get into spaces that brands cannot. If you have a personal brand, that creates opportunities not only for the person, but also for the company that they work for.

Finally, last but not least, it makes you look good as an employer. It’s really good for recruitment, not only because people who are looking at your company will say, “That person I admire is at that company. I could work with them. That’s really appealing,” but also because it shows that you are a supportive workplace, you’re a place where people can develop their careers as opposed to just being stuck in a box.

Obviously, I’m a big fan of personal branding, so I’m going to be talking about the good things about it, but I really have seen an active shift. When I myself was looking for outside employment last year, after years of just working for myself, that was a must-have for me, and it is increasingly for a lot of people. A must-have was I can’t have to sacrifice my personal brand. I know that you understand this as well, because as you said at the top of the show, you also are someone who has developed and maintained a strong personal brand and it has allowed you to make choices, it has allowed you to move and grow.

Any company that doesn’t want their people to be able to move and grow, you have to take a second look at that because you’re not going to get the best people, you’re going to get the people who don’t necessarily know their worth, and that might be for a reason.

George: There’s so many good words in there. Things that pop to mind; are you serving or are you selfing as an employer, as an executive, as a company. The other thing that comes to mind is are you hiring bottom of the barrel or cream of the crop, because cream of the crop have to be nurtured in a certain way. We may go off the beaten path here in a second, I may ask you a question around this.

Christine: I’m ready.

George: Companies are vigorously investigating influencer marketing, and willing to pay people money to do and hold and whatever things. There’s this idea of your own people could be these micro internal influencers, and we’ll get back to that.

There were so many good words that I think people need to pull out, no matter who you are listening to this, around the fact of freedom, and pivot, and transition, and journey. The most important one that I think I heard you say was this foundation of understanding your own why and how you want to show up. We’re going to talk about that in a second, because I want to talk about how the Marketing Smarts listeners, the B2B marketers, actually get started building their own personal brands.

Before that, I do want to go off the beaten path. Some people might hear this and go, “That’s not a thing.” Talk about the ability to be an internal microinfluencer in your organization. Powerful, not powerful? Needed, not needed? What say you?

Christine: Incredibly powerful. I won’t say needed. There are some people who are fully comfortable just putting their head down and doing the work. This isn’t necessarily for everybody. Not everybody wants to be (to use another overused buzzword) a thought leader.

When it comes down to it, it is to your advantage not only in terms of the flexibility, but also it encourages you to keep on growing your skills, because you don’t want to run out of things to say, you don’t want to be revealed as a fraud, you don’t want to be a one trick pony, you want to keep on showing that you are flexing and developing those smarts.

In addition to that, one thing that I want to point out about this that I think people misunderstand, especially when it comes to the term personal branding in general, a personal brand does not mean 500,000 Instagram followers, it doesn’t mean you have a blue checkmark on Twitter. Influence, in terms of being an internal influence, a micro influencer, an industry influencer, can be a very small circle. What matters most is not the size of the circle, but the strength of the circle. Who is in that circle? Why are those the people who need to know that you’re smart and you know your stuff, even to just know your name, who you are and what you do? Why do those people matter?

It matters a lot more to look at quality than quantity when it comes to influence, especially for a B2B professional. If you’re not talking to the wider consumer market, if you’re not just going for random mainstream media placements or anything like that, that stuff doesn’t matter. Don’t get distracted. Focus on who needs to know who you are. Focus on who could find value in your special gifts. Focus on them, focus on the strength of your message rather than the size of the people it is reaching. Make sure it’s reaching the right ears.

George: I love this so much. We’ve probably reached two rewind spots already in this episode. I know people are probably sitting there like, “How the heck do I get started?” Let’s answer that. How can marketers and executives get started on building a personal brand if they haven’t done that so far?

Christine: One thing that really blew my mind when it first sunk in for me a few years ago is the idea that the people who I listen to, the people who I look up to, the people I see on stages, the people whose blogs and newsletters I read, the people whose podcasts I listen to are people and they didn’t start out doing all of those things. They started doing those things and maybe not a lot of people were listening or watching or looking to them for guidance.

Then maybe they said one particular thing that caught fire, usually not the smartest thing they ever said because, of course, what goes viral and goes public is not always our finest. The fact is maybe whatever it was, the spark caught and eventually word spread about this person, and they got more and more opportunities. If they were smart about it, they built that brand. But when they started, they were probably just someone like you who was good at what they do, or at least, because interest actually matters more, interested enough in what they were doing in order to get better at it, in order to have conversations about it, in order to devote that personal study to it that has to come before you’re creating content to do with it.

They all started somewhere. So, first of all, look at those people, look at who you are looking up to, look at who you are listening to, look at those trusted sources for you and what they’re doing. If you’re able to add visibility to it, look at what they did before. How did they become a thing?

This is really the secret sauce. This will not always work, and I know it, but a lot of them are pretty approachable if you’re smart. Step one would be look at what those people are doing, study how they’re doing it, see where they’re showing up and how, and figure out how you could do similar in your area of expertise.

Step number two, be an active part of their audience, not a passive part of their audience. At first, sit back, get the lay of the land, but the fact is so much is happening now on social media, in digital spaces, in Web 3.0, and still at live and virtual events. These are places where you often can try to approach that person and have a conversation with them.

By have a conversation, I don’t mean try to prove to them how smart you are, but I also don’t mean fawn all over them and just say they’re amazing and nothing else. Ask a question. See if you can take something that you learned from them a little bit further. See what they didn’t say to show that you’re engaged and you have good thoughts.

Now, you could say this to them personally. Some people draw their personal boundaries a little close to the vest, and that is completely fine. Everyone has their own energy management system. But I’ve been shocked in the best way by how many of these people I admire are very happy to have a conversation.

In addition to that, look at their audiences. I don’t mean to poach their audiences. Don’t show up in front of their audience and say, “Here’s who I am, I’m super smart, come check me out.” No. What you need to do is enter those conversations, be an active part of those audiences, have conversations with other people who have already identified themselves as having a keen interest in the topic, other people who are also inserting themselves into the conversation in a way that brings value and provokes thought, as opposed to just being self-serving. That will make you visible to the right people who have self-identified as having an interest in the topic that you have an interest in and a knowledge in. Also, if you show up with value, showing up in the right spaces with value is the most important thing you can possibly do.

That’s how to build the strongest of personal brands. It’s not by telling people you’re great. It’s by showing up with value, saying something that gets people thinking, saying something that has some intelligence behind it, saying something that could help someone else, if you keep showing up with value, people are going to start asking you to show up with value. They’ll ask you to be on their podcast, they’ll ask you to speak at their events, they’ll ask you to write a guest blog post, they’ll ask to come in and consult, if that’s what you do. They will want to talk to you. They might even just ask you to coffee. That’s fine.

Getting to know more people and getting to tell your story and get in more people’s heads in an accurate way that lets them know what you’re about, that’s gold. The only way to do it is to figure out not only how you can show up with value, but also where you can show up with the appropriate value.

George: One of the things I love is just being able to let my brain go as people are talking on these interviews. As you were closing that out, the word opportunities, more opportunities are coming your way. If you’re inside an organization, that means those opportunities are coming to the organization as well, tying back to the importance.

What’s really interesting is early in that segment you said the word interest and some other words. It led me to this thing of interest equals passion, passion equals education, education equals execution, the ability to execute then means you can turn around and educate others, which then the word value came out, and when you’re educating others, you’re adding value. That cycle right there is like the launchpad and then the rinse-and-repeat of being able to, and you even said that is how you build the most powerful of brands. You almost were getting us to the success just at the beginning of us getting started.

What I want to do is double-down because earlier in the podcast you used the words building the brand the best way. Kind of doubling-down on where you were headed in the last question, are there any tips, tricks, hacks for building a more powerful and trustworthy brand as a marketer or an executive?

Christine: The thing that I find the most important element in building your personal brand is having it be genuine. Not because people see through it when it’s not genuine, that matters too, but because it’s exhausting if you’re not building it in a genuine way.

By in a genuine way, I don’t just mean don’t misrepresent yourself, show up as who you are, don’t claim to know things that you don’t. I also mean listening to yourself, being aware of your gifts, as well as your limitations, making sure you show up in ways that really do highlight your gifts. You can own your weaknesses, too. It doesn’t mean you have to hide them away. It just means you have to be really clear on what is a strength, what is a weakness, and build accordingly.

The most important thing, and this is something that I’ve told teeny-tiny mom-and-pop small business owners and executives, the best way to build your thought leadership, to build your brand, and to show up is the way you won’t hate. Some people would say you have to speak in order to build a personal brand, or you have to write a book, or you have to be blogging, or any number of ways, there’s a million ways to do it. You don’t even have to be creating content, honestly.

What will actually work best for you is something that comes more naturally to you that you like, that won’t feel like as much of a chore to keep on showing up and doing, because consistency is really what conveys authenticity. If you show up in consistent ways and you really build that consistency, it builds trust. If you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, which you can do on occasion, there is some room for experimentation. Digital in particular is constantly evolving. So, I’m not saying don’t try new things, but find a thing that you will be able to show up and keep doing consistently, at least for a little while, that is going to be a way that you are comfortable bringing that value to people.

That could even be personal conversations. You don’t have to be up on a stage. If you have a whole bunch of personal conversations with the right people, that will do it. You just have to figure out what’s comfortable for you. Maybe push it a little bit, get a little bit past your comfort zone, but really doing something that you can get some confidence on and that you can get some momentum going on. That’s going to put you in a stronger position to build on that. That’s going to put you in a stronger position to try new and different things and for people to give you opportunities to do new and different things.

There’s a million different ways to establish thought leadership, there’s a million different ways to get your personal brand out there. I would say go with what is comfortable to you, what you’re not going to feel like is a tremendous chore or a whole second job, and where you won’t feel like you’re playing some sort of fictional version of yourself.

George: We’ll get to that fictional version of yourself here in a minute, but there’s that word opportunity again. You said even if it’s conversations with other people, which by the way, that means conversations with humans, which is networking, which your network and your net worth are directly tied together, which circles back around to those opportunities. Hopefully, everybody else can see how this starts to map together if you just do – and here is the major word that I have to pull out – consistency.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was 10 years of consistency in the space that I am in that allowed me in 2022 to start my own business. If I wouldn’t have been consistent, it would have never happened. It is again just a small slice of how what we’re talking about today can be powerful and can change your life and can give you opportunities.

Speaking of that, people are like, let’s do this.

Christine: I hope so.

George: But there’s a problem, you see. On the highway to life, there’s potholes, and in the race to get to the finish line, there’s hurdles. What hurdles have you seen most marketers or executives face along the way while they’re trying to achieve this thing that we’re talking about and building a personal brand for themselves inside of a company?

Christine: One really big thing is being more concerned with showing other people how smart you are than with bringing value. It’s a matter of show, don’t tell. Really, telling other people how smart you are is not going to do nearly as much as showing other people how smart you are by delivering value that’s actually relevant to them.

It’s kind of like in marketing in general, and we’re hearing this more and more, you have to think of the consumer, you have to think about their needs first, not necessarily what you want to sell to them. The same is true with personal branding. You need to come up with what they need, where is there a need for your gifts. Whatever your gifts are, there is one, but you have to figure out who needs it, how they need it, what’s going to get through to them, what’s going to serve them.

People want to cut to the finish, people want to cut to the opportunities part, people want to cut to the fame, people want to cut to getting the fancy stages. I understand this completely. You get a little ambitious and you wonder why that person is getting the opportunities that you’re not, and you feel like you’re ready for the big game. You know what? Maybe you’re not. What you need to do is take the time to develop that trust. The way to develop that trust is to give people what they need, not just what you feel like serving up. That’s the biggest hurdle I’ve seen, people getting a little too excited about it.

On the other side of the coin, and this is usually different people, but not always, there are also people who feel very hesitant. A lot of people have to get out of their own heads in order to step into the spotlight in that way, in order to share their thoughts.

One of the things that I actually really love about Twitter chats, of all things, I host my own chat about brand, I love Madalyn Sklar’s Twitter Smarter Chat, one of the things that I love about that is that while I do love interviewing experts and listening to expert interviews and learning from the people who I learn from, it’s also tremendously powerful to say, “What do you think?” in an open-ended way to people who have identified themselves as interested in the topic. Some people really feel like they don’t have anything to add to a conversation professionally. Some people shy away from that sort of thing. Or they feel like they have something to add, but they’re shy, or something like that.

There’s a lot of ways we get in our own heads. I think that the way to reframe that goes back to the other thing of stop thinking about the reasons why you’re getting in your own way, start thinking about the other people. Stop thinking about how you’re going to look or if you’re going to sound stupid or no one wants to hear from you. No. What do other people need? What are other people looking for information on? What are other people looking for thoughts on? What are other people wanting to have conversations about that are the things that you also geek out on?

There’s nothing better than finding someone who wants to geek out on the same things that you want to geek out on and then finding out that you’re on the same wavelength. That’s incredible. Give that joy to somebody else. Don’t just hoard it all for yourself. Don’t just hoard all of your brilliant thoughts in your own head. Recognize that other people want to geek out on it, too. Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you’re knowledgeable about, there are other people who want to geek out on it. Do not rob them of that experience because you’re too much in your own head to do it.

George: So good. Earlier in the episode, you said a phrase that I typed down feverishly. I’m like I have to use that again, it goes along with one of the questions that I love to ask.

Christine: Goodness. What did I say?

George: You said smarty at the party. If you’re the smarty at the party, then the question for that is, because now we’ve dodged the potholes and leaped over the hurdles, in your mind, if you are the smarty at the party, what does personal branding success look like?

Christine: First and foremost, you never want to be the smartest smarty at the party. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. That’s not a room where you’re going to grow, it’s not a room where you’re going to learn anything. I love surrounding myself with people who are much smarter than I am. Not only at things that I don’t know, not only at my weaknesses, but also people who are stronger than me at my strengths. I think that’s really important. I have to say that about being smarty at the party, you want to be at a party full of smarties.

In terms of that, people think you’re smart not because you say things that go over their heads. People think you’re smart because you said something they needed to hear, they tried it, and it worked. That’s the real way to cement yourself in people’s heads not only as being smart and qualified, but also as whatever you are. They will forever associate you with what you did for them.

I said at the beginning about how your personal brand is the version of you that lives in other people’s heads and the stories that they have about you in their heads. The story you really want them to have about you is one in which you’ve helped them. You can help people in all sorts of ways. You can help people in all sorts of ways that you don’t even know about.

I reached out to someone recently who I wanted to write an article for me at Social Media Pulse. I had no idea who she was, but I reached out to her on LinkedIn. She said, “Oh my god, you’re why I started my business a few years ago.” I said, “What?” She had heard me speak at some online summit. She said, “It was the final push that I needed.” My head was exploding. I had no idea that I had impacted this person. That’s amazing.

So, you don’t really know who you’re impacting or how, necessarily. But have an impact, because if you don’t have an impact, again, that’s selfish, you’re hoarding all of the smartness for yourself. You’re not even attending the party, let alone being the smarty at the party. Don’t deprive people of the good time of you.

George: The good time of you. There’s probably a whole podcast episode on chasing significance instead of success and servanthood around that. I do want to go off the beaten path again, because there has been three or four times that you’ve said something or alluded to something and my brain directly shot to I know anybody who is trying to go down this journey of building a personal brand will deal with this, and I want to capture Christine’s thoughts around this. The first time you mentioned it, it sparked. You mentioned the word fraud.

Christine: Yes.

George: I could position the question as how have you seen others deal with it, or I can ask it how do you deal with it. You can answer it either way. I’m going to ask it in this way. How the heck do you battle imposter syndrome when you’re on this brand-building journey?

Christine: This is such a favorite topic, because it’s like the Hair Club for Men, “I’m not just the president, I’m also a client.” I deal with my own imposter syndrome, and I help others deal with it as well. There’s two main ways that I like to look at this.

One of them is the idea that nobody is a complete expert. There’s nobody who knows everything about something. There just straight up isn’t. Even Ann Handley, who we both know and admire, she wrote a second edition of her book Everybody Writes because not every piece of human knowledge was in the first edition. She found new stuff to add because she’s done more stuff, she’s learned more stuff, she’s thought about more stuff.

So, there’s no such thing as the be all, end all, this is done, my expertise is complete. Everyone is still constantly learning. Don’t hold yourself to the standard of those people who know more than you do, who are further along the journey. First of all, there’s definitely stuff that they don’t know, that they feel like they need to learn more about.

Also, you really only need to know more than the person that you’re trying to help about one thing. You need one piece of knowledge to be able to help someone, and that’s the piece of knowledge that they don’t have and that they need.

When I first started out in social media, it was because people were asking me to give talks for local business groups about social media for small business, and I was like I’m a journalist, I don’t know anything about social media, and it was fairly new for business applications at that point. Then I spoke, and I realized I know a lot more than I think I do.

When things come easily to us, we tend not to value them. We tend to value struggle. We think that if we have to think really hard about it or work really hard about it that it has value, and if it comes easily and naturally, it does not have value. That’s not true, first of all. Also, I didn’t realize how little they knew, and I realized I knew enough to help them. I know enough to help them get started, I know enough to help them avoid some pitfalls, I know enough to help them. That’s one thing, realize you only need to know enough to help someone who doesn’t know that thing.

The second thing was really the biggest game changer. This goes back to something that I said before. If you feel like you don’t know enough, go learn it. You can constantly be learning stuff. Especially since social media is my main area, there is so much to learn constantly because the second you feel like you’ve learned everything, and you haven’t, it changes or there is something new on the scene, or a billionaire buys your favorite platform. Things change constantly.

I think that’s something I really love about social media, digital marketing, all of that stuff, I love the constant change because it makes it a little bit easier to put into perspective the fact that there is never going to be an end to the learning. There will never come a point where you know all the things. There will always be more to learn, which means you’re fine. That’s what I would say.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, I hope you realize the mental power-up that Christine just handed to you in that last segment. If you are one chapter ahead of them in the book, you have something to teach them. I’ll even double-down on that and give you another little nugget that you need to realize. Somewhere someone is starting on day one, and you’re on day 5,726, so of course you can add value to their life. Just get out of your own stinking head.

Christine, this has been an amazing interview filled with tons of great words and advice. I always love to end the Marketing Smarts Podcast with this final question. We’ve all gone through our own journey, we’ve all done our own educating, which means that we’ve probably become a little bit wise around some of the things that we talk about. What are some words of wisdom that you would want to leave the Marketing Smarts audience around personal branding, or I’ll open it up to just life in general, or being a human? In other words, what words of advice do you want to share?

Christine: This applies to all of them. Don’t overthink it. Do be intentional, but don’t overthink it. This goes for branding, this goes for life, this goes for parenting, this goes for anything I do in my life. I am trying to get more intentional about some things because I want to be in control of my own trajectory. Instead of just letting things happen to me, I would like to be an active participant in my own life.

Overthinking stuff is the best way to stall action or to get a lot of action in the wrong direction. Overthinking things really stomps out serendipity. So, don’t overthink things. Be genuine. Be yourself. Trust yourself. You can be intentional, but do not overthink because you’re going to get stuck. Don’t fall for that.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to Mprofs.com/mptoday. You won’t regret the additional B2B marketing education that you’ll be adding to your life.

We’d like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we’d love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Christopher Penn about a B2B marketing deep dive on AI foundations, the future, tips, and more, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you’d like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We’ll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

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