Hope Brookins was named as one of the Top 15 Millennial influencers on linkedin.com. At 25, she’s a female entrepreneur who has worked in politics. At only 19 she had already planned events for a former President of the United States, 14 US Congressmen and other politicians across the country. She is an event planner and online influencer and branding specialist.
This week, Hope is sharing her message and her knowledge in this guest blog and if you want to hear more, she also took the time to come on Millennials & Money Café to talk with me about ‘hustling like a Kardashian,’ and why she thinks it’s essential to build your own business, even if it’s just as a ‘side hustle.’
As a female millennial entrepreneur based in a state that didn’t have a ton of opportunities in my industry, I knew that success was not going to come easy. I knew I would have to go to the internet to discover opportunity. I naively decided that building my business online would be easy. Tons of people were doing it. Anyone who has tried building a business online knows, it isn’t so easy after all. After launching website after website and blog after blog, I still wasn’t seeing the level of success others were having. My initial plan of creating the best product or offering a one-of-a-kind service and selling it online, was missing one crucial component.
I started to study entrepreneurs that weren’t just successful, but were the top in their industry. I constantly heard these people use the words “brand” and “branding.” It took me a while to truly understand everything that a brand encompassed, but as soon as I did I started to brand myself opportunities began to pop up everywhere.
If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to sell you.
You need to sell your personal brand.
You can find a billion definitions of branding online. In fact, I have an entire board on Pinterest devoted to blog posts that others have written about branding. I define branding as determining what characteristics or combination of characteristics make you different than everyone else and then putting those characteristics into a neat little package. Determining what things make you different is not always a quick and easy process, but it shouldn’t be. Ask yourself questions like: What makes me me? What do I like about myself? What do other people point out about me? What TV characters do I identify with and why? What words do other people use to describe me? (You can even ask your friends and family to help answer these questions to get started.)
Building a brand has to be intentional. You cannot just be you. Discovering the things that make you unique is not enough. You have to package these things in a way that highlights and perhaps even over exaggerates them. After many years of working in politics I often find that politicians are one of the most relatable and extreme examples of branding that exist. When a politician runs for office they don’t just talk about the issues. A politician has a team that helps them highlight the things about themselves that make them different from the other candidate and will resonate with voters. A politician’s campaign team carefully package all of the unique qualities about a candidate and present it to the politician’s target audience—the voters—in a way that they will respond positively to. They streamline a politician’s messaging so that everything that politician says will fit with the central message of the politician’s brand. All imagery used on campaign material, all tweets on Twitter, and all speeches that are given are carefully and intentionally created. This is what you have to do with your personal brand.
You have to brand yourself like a politician.
Once you determine how to package your brand, you can present these things to your target audience (aka whoever you want to sell your product or service to and other professionals in your industry). Your brand is how you highlight what makes you unique and what makes you the best option for your target customers. If used correctly, your brand will position you in your industry. Your brand will help you sell your product or service. . . and, most importantly, yourself.
The biggest block that occurred when I started to brand myself was the fear of being stuck with the same brand forever. As soon as I just started building a following on social media and going with my brand, I immediately started getting requests for interviews and collaborations. If I would have waited until I was 100% sure about what path I was going to take with my brand, I literally still would not have put myself out there because I change my mind frequently. I took action to build a website, have a logo created, define my target audience, write my mission statement, create a tagline, and all of the other tasks that go along with creating a brand. I built a social media following on multiple platforms. And you know what? I changed my business purpose more times than I can count. It has come full circle right back to my original brand SO MANY TIMES that I’m not even going to try to count.
Not a single person has ever called me out on my brand changing. Instead, whenever I announce a change, I’m met with tons of encouragement.
Have you ever heard of a politician that changed their vote? The odds are that you have. That’s because we’re people and people change their minds. Don’t feel like once you build a following you can’t ever change your mind about your brand’s direction. You can change your name or edit your profile description on every single social platform from your iPhone. Don’t be so afraid to change your mind that you pause branding yourself until you’re 100% sure about what you want to do. Get that logo made. Start to sell you. Odds are that you’ll never be 100% sure and that even if you are, you’ll change your mind again later. The important thing is that you take action now to start branding yourself.
Hope Brookins is a female millennial entrepreneur and a thought leader in event based social media. By the time she was 19, Hope had planned events for a former President of the United States, 14 United States Congressmen, and countless politicians across the country. Now at only 25 years old Hope owns her own company that provides social media and event consulting for corporations and creative entrepreneurs who want to maximize their online presence with social media. Learn more about Brooke on her website www.HopeBrookins.com or connect with her on facebook, twitter or instagram @HopeBrookins