When I started my career in 1997, my mentors who had made their careers in the 1970s and 1980s never spoke about a “Personal Brand”. To these business people from the previous generation, it was all about “reputation”.
1997 seems to be a fateful year, not just for me personally, but for all of the people who would enter the workforce from that year forward.
1997 was the year that business guru Tom Peters is thought to have first used the expression “personal branding” in an article he wrote. Although I have not been able to find the article to verify this claim.
As someone who was there and working in 1997, I can say that the expression “personal brand” was not being widely used in the business community. My earliest memories of the idea of a personal brand are 2009.
“Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.” – Wikipedia
Why was 2009 an important year?
For me personally, it was the year I became an entrepreneur, but for the world, it was the height of the Great Recession caused by the housing bubble bursting in the US.
In 2009, the social media networks that were founded a few years before, LinkedIn (2002), Facebook (2004), and Twitter (2006), were also really starting to mature into a powerful business tool.
In my opinion, this combination of thousands of people who were looking for work and having the most powerful “branding” tools ever created in human history led to the popularity of the “personal brand”.
A good reputation in your vertical was no longer enough.
You needed to set yourself apart.
What better way to set yourself apart than to create a personal brand that is easily recognizable and creates value by scaling your reputation?
How I Created My Personal Brand
It often feels like everything is changing so fast we can hardly keep up.
Yet when you really analyze things, you can see how nothing really changes at its core. The popularity of the “personal brand” is one such example. Let me explain.
When I started my career in 1997, as I said before, my mentors taught me to build a good reputation. Today, business mentors would tell young people entering the workforce to build a personal brand.
A Personal Brand at its Core is All About Reputation
A reputation was primarily spread by word-of-mouth. This basically meant that the people who knew and worked with you directly could tell others about you. This typically meant that your reputation did not have reach outside of your immediate geographical area and the industry you worked in.
In contrast, a personal brand is spread by the internet and social media channels, which means that people who have never worked with you and don’t know you personally can find you and based on what they see can decide to work with you.
It’s All a Matter of Scale
A personal brand is just a reputation that has been scaled.
So, now that you have had a quick history lesson on personal branding and you understand what a personal brand really is, how do you go about creating a personal brand in the heavy-duty truck and trailer industry?
In our global, ultra-competitive world, the ability to scale your reputation into a brand has never been more important.
Before I tell you about how I built my personal brand so quickly I want to talk about what led up to my decision to build a personal brand.
After moving 1000 KMS (600 miles) to be with family in 2015 and selling my contracting business in 2016, I was left with a big decision.
My Return to the Heavy-Duty Industry
I was now living in a community that I had never lived in before. I was too young to retire and I wanted to explore my options.
One day in April of 2016 I sent a message on LinkedIn to an old colleague of mine from my corporate days before I became an entrepreneur. The message was basically, “I’m living in Alberta now, it has been a long time since we have had a chance to see each other, if you would like to get a coffee I would love to catch up.”
About two months later I received a phone call, this colleague had passed my information along to the executive team of his company, and they offered me a position after I had been out of the corporate world and the heavy-duty parts industry for 7-years.
Think about that for a minute.
My reputation with these people had not diminished in 7-years despite my complete absence. No doubt my entrepreneurial success bolstered my reputation with them, but doesn’t this highlight how important your reputation is to your future success?
A Dream and a BLOG
In September 2016, I accepted a position with Artic Truck Parts (owned by TruckPro) and I made a return to the heavy-duty parts industry. By December 2016, I recognized that there was an opportunity to take the reputation I already had and scale it.
This concept of scaling my reputation as a personal brand become my dream.
Where do you start?
I started with a BLOG and I wrote approximately 20 articles which got me an invitation to be a contributor to Millionaire Digest.
Next, I was invited to be a guest on a podcast with Matthew D. Gonzalez, PH.D. At that time I barely knew what a podcast was, but this first interview request was about to change my life forever.
After I did that interview, I realized that this was something that I loved to do, and something that would help me expand my reach by leveraging other people’s audiences.
I kept writing BLOG articles, started booking more podcast interviews, and slowly my engagement numbers, reach, and my audience began to grow. On May 5, 2017, I was a guest on the Brutal Truth About Sales and Selling with Brian Burns and on June 13, 2017, I was a guest on Sales Babble with Pat Helmers.
By July of 2017, I achieved something that I had been working toward. I was accepted as a guest on EOFire with John Lee Dumas. We recorded our interview on July 11, 2017, and I committed to creating a blueprint of how I built and sold my business as a gift for John’s audience. John advised me that my interview would air on August 25, 2017.
The next day, July 12, 2017, I recorded an interview with the Unshackled Owner with Aaron Scott Young, and that interview aired on July 25, 2017. This interview expanded on my entrepreneurial story and went into more details of my journey than the EOFire interview.
Both interviews were very successful.
Starting My Journey as a Podcast Host
Most of you know me as the host of The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.
That first podcast taught me how to be a host and what I needed to do to be successful. Ultimately I learned that having a broad approach with podcasting doesn’t work. It’s too hard to break through all the noise and find your core audience.
You must start with a niche that is very specific, underserved, and you must serve that niche audience consistently in order to succeed.
I applied everything I had learned up until that point when I launched The Heavy-Duty Parts Report in June of 2019. The podcast has been hugely successful and it allowed me to quit my job and launch my consulting business.
My Personal Brand Today
I have thousands of contacts in the heavy-duty truck and trailer industry and I have the respect of the heavy-duty truck and trailer industry.
My clients range from privately owned businesses doing under $25 million in annual revenue to multi-national billion-dollar manufacturers. I work with companies at every level of the heavy-duty truck and trailer supply chain and I have clients who are in the technology space that are serving the heavy-duty truck and trailer industry.
When I think about my career that started back in 1997, I never imagined I would be where I am today. I’m glad that I worked hard to build a good reputation in those early years, that I took a chance on myself and gained entrepreneurial experience, and that I have put in the consistent work to create a personal brand that has now expanded to reach thousands of people in the heavy-duty truck and trailer industry globally.
You have the same opportunity as I did to create a personal brand for yourself. Don’t try to copy what I am doing or what you see others doing. Find a niche that you can serve, leverage your unique talents and experience, and build a personal brand that will open doors for you in your career.
Would you like some help to develop your strategy?
Jamie Irvine works with forward-thinking heavy-duty companies as a consultant. Developing Corporate and Personal Brands is one of the most common consulting work that Jamie does with heavy-duty truck & trailer companies and professionals.