Personal branding is a powerful tool for marketers and salespeople to attract business. The challenge is that it takes time and effort to build a strong digital presence.
Explore how you can identify and create your own authentic digital brand with Madeline Fetterly.
She’ll share tips on how to harness your passion and expertise. Plus, how to leverage your online presence to gain a steady stream of new leads and drive business development.
“There’s this whole market out there of individuals and businesses and companies who do incredible things … but they’re missing out on getting the credit for the great work that they’re doing and attracting more opportunities based on their personal expertise and credibility.”
Highlights From This Episode:
- What is personal branding
- Why personal branding is important
- How personal branding attracts opportunities
- Signs you're doing personal branding right
- Imposter syndrome and how to overcome it
- What to avoid when it comes to personal branding
- How to get started
Watch the Live Recording
Full Episode Transcripts
Tessa Burg: Hello and welcome to another episode of Lead(er) Generation, brought to you by Tenlo Radio. Our guest today is the CEO and Founder of Be The Brand. Be The Brand is a personal branding company focused on digital platforms. And we’re really excited to have Madeline Fetterly joining us. Thanks for being our guest.
Madeline Fetterly: Thanks for having me.
Tessa Burg: I’m really excited to talk about this topic mostly because personally I’ve always been interested in how to just grow awareness around the things I love. Like how do I share my passion? But for a lot of our listeners, this is going to be very interesting around how does their passion and their expertise translate into leads and sales? So this is gonna be an exploration we’ve never done before. And thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show.
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, really happy to be here and be having this conversation.
Tessa Burg: Great, so for everyone who doesn’t know, tell us what is personal branding?
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, personal branding is really just the idea that an individual has kind of a set of impressions that they leave with the people that they interact with. So somebody who has focused on their personal branding and has really spent some time to think about what are those core messages that I want people to leave when they interact with me, when they look at me online, in my LinkedIn or my social media, and it’s really just what people take away from their time in their interaction with you.
Madeline Fetterly: So it can certainly be about your professional expertise, but it’s really also about how you make people feel, your values, your mission, how you amplify the things that you care about. And it really should all ladder up to you as the individual and again, that consistency and that messaging that you want people to know or think of you about.
Tessa Burg: Hmm, I really love that description. It made me think about like, how did you get interested in this area? Like what was your journey or path to becoming a personal branding expert?
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, so I have a background and a personal passion for women’s leadership and women’s empowerment. I really, really believe in the power of women’s voices. And throughout the course of my career, I had the opportunity to work alongside and with some really incredible women leaders. And as I got to know them and just really admire them and wanna stand in their shadow and learn more about them, one of the things I noticed was that they were doing a ton of incredible work, but they had almost no online or digital presence. And so they weren’t getting the credit for the work that they were doing.
Madeline Fetterly: And so that really kind of sparked this idea that there’s this whole market out there of individuals and businesses and companies who do incredible things and add a lot of value into the conversations that they’re participating in, but they’re not thinking about their concise messaging. They don’t have that kind of steady drumbeat of thought leadership out there in the digital space. And so they’re missing out one, on getting the credit for the great work that they’re doing. And two, attracting more opportunities based off of their personal expertise and credibility.
Tessa Burg: You hit on so many elements that we know are a part of attracting the right customer and increasing conversion with that customer in a meaningful way. You know, how are we making them feel? Do they connect with us at a value level? Are we giving them expertise and content that they need or want? So I’m already starting to see like this path to why personal branding is important to generating leads or can be a part of business development. What are some signs though that you’re doing personal branding right?
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think there are so many, there are so many different ways you could think about it. I mean, one, a first sign that you’re doing personal branding right is if you feel personally as the individual or the company, good about what you’re putting out there. At the end of the day, you want to build an authentic personal brand.
Madeline Fetterly: And so, and I think that we see this trend more and more like people really wanna see authentic professionals and just kind of the last two years and all the reckonings we’ve had around leadership and social issues here in the United States, people really want to see that authenticity. And so we really don’t want to be thinking about creating one dimensional or bot-like brands. You really wanna have that authentic perspective.
Madeline Fetterly: So I think the first, the first thing I always say to clients and people we’re working with is, you have to feel good about it because if you don’t feel good about it, and if you don’t feel like it really embodies who you actually are and is multidimensional and all the things that go into who people are, then it’s not gonna be a successful endeavor. It’s just not gonna work ’cause you’re gonna burn out or you’re gonna make too many pivots and adjustments and it’s gonna be confusing messaging. So I would say that’s a first thing, like how you over time really feel about it.
Madeline Fetterly: The second thing is I would say we all have people in our networks that we want to garner influence amongst. And while, I think when we think about personal branding and social media, a lot of times people are like, oh, well I don’t wanna be an influencer and that’s not really what we’re doing, but it is about creating influence and really garnering influence amongst the people in your network. So I would say another thing to think about in terms of if you’re branding is being successful, is are people noticing it? Are people whether in your online community or in your in-person community saying, oh, wow, I noticed that you did this panel or you did this podcast and it was really great or I really have appreciated your increased social media presence lately. So I would say that would be the second thing, like are other people noticing it?
Madeline Fetterly: And then of course, the third thing is if we’re thinking about in terms of a business perspective is, is it resulting in increased leads, potential business development, new business? I think of course with client services and with business, this goes back to the people wanna see authentic professionals. And the best way to do that is to really think about and bring the best of you into your business conversations and into the way that you approach business and having a personal brand well formed and in your back pocket is an incredible tool to help make sure that you’re staying consistent in the way that you do that.
Tessa Burg: Those were three really great points, feeling good about it, having specific people that you want to influence and measuring whether or not they’re noticing that influence and then measuring increase in leads and quality of leads. I want to go back to the first one because to me, I feel like that’s the most challenging. I’m really passionate about what I do. And when I read content, I have a reaction when I see new products or services being launched, like I always wanna try them. I love testing new tech but I hesitate to ever put anything out there and I’m you know, not active. Anyone looks at my LinkedIn profile. I am not active in social by any means. ‘Cause I sometimes get stopped by like that imposter syndrome. Or I start to question like how good I feel about things or am I the right and to say this, or how good is my opinion? Do you run into that? And how do you help people sort of address their imposter syndrome or the blockers that keep them from really sharing their authenticity?
Madeline Fetterly: Totally, and that’s, that really is one of the main barriers that we come up with when we we’re coaching and working with individuals, the imposter syndrome, but then also the value proposition. So a lot of times people are like, I don’t care about it. Like it’s just not, people don’t wanna play in the digital sandbox sometimes, but what we know is that if you’re not playing in the digital sandbox, you’re missing out on opportunities. Totally, in terms of your thought leadership and personal branding.
Madeline Fetterly: I would say in regards to imposter syndrome, I mean, there’s like a mantra that I really love that I learned from this amazing executive. You might know her it’s Bozoma Saint John who’s the CMO of Netflix. She’s had this incredible marketing career. She’s just like such an icon in terms of personal branding. And she has this great quote where she says, nobody started talking about me until I started talking about me.
Madeline Fetterly: And so in terms of the imposter syndrome, I think we know we’re always gonna be that number one critic, but the thing is, is if you’re not doing it, somebody else is gonna be doing it and it’s gonna be playing in that space and generating those leads and that business that you could do.
Madeline Fetterly: And the great thing about social media is it doesn’t really have that long of a tail. And as long as you’re keeping it professional and not doing anything that you’re gonna regret later, you can always edit or update what you post. You can delete it or you wait 24 hours. It’s like the news cycle. You wait 24 hours and there’s a whole other batch of content that’s up on the feed.
Madeline Fetterly: And so it’s really, I think we place like a lot of value, like a disproportionate amount of emphasis on things that are up on our LinkedIn channels. But as long as it’s professional and staying up above brow, it doesn’t have that long of a tail but it’s the doing it consistently that really makes the biggest impact ’cause you create that overall brand narrative and that brand storyline.
Tessa Burg: We are really lucky in the sense that we work with some incredibly smart marketers. When you just mentioned the CMO of Netflix, I immediately started thinking of some of the CMOs and VPs of marketing that we work with and they run into blockers internally about putting out their passion. Like, yes, you’re not gonna talk about the company’s IP or what you’re doing strategically internally, but I feel like sometimes it’s even so strict that they can’t talk about anything and work is a lot of our life. I mean, that’s we all work at places that’s where exercise our passion. Have you had to work through any of those challenges to help women get a voice in a way that works for their employer, but then also and will ultimately benefit their employer, but allows them to start putting out content on their passion and their expertise?
Madeline Fetterly: A hundred percent. So we work with a lot of folks in the, either the government affairs or in the political space. And particularly with working with women in the political space, it’s there, it’s very much the same. You really can’t step out from behind the, your boss or the member that you’re supporting. And it’s really challenging to talk about any kind of policy issue or politics in the right way on the of platforms.
Madeline Fetterly: So what I actually coach people to do in that scenario is really take some time right down on a piece of paper like what are the, I mean, yes, the majority of our life is gonna be spent at work but take that time to think about, okay, what are the other things that make me a multidimensional person? What those other things that I care about? Is it animal welfare? Is it, you know is it XY and Z issue? Women in the arts, business, et cetera, that are not related to the work that you’re doing or that would be okay to talk about and really build kind of a narrative around those things.
Madeline Fetterly: I also think one of the best things that we can do is amplify or really curate kind of extracurriculars that we participate in. So if we’re on any kinds of boards, if we volunteer for nonprofits, even if we’re part of like PTAs and that kind of stuff, like those are all extracurriculars that speak to who we are and what we care about. And so let’s think about the interesting ways that that can ladder up into our overall personal brand and our overall message and talk about those things online. I mean, even if we think about the PTA like sure, okay. Yeah, it’s the PTA, but think about all the things in the last two that perhaps the PTA has had to navigate and all those issues that we could speak about in regards to child safety during the pandemic or X, Y, and Z issue. And even just like sharing an article about something that really resonated with you as a PTA member as it relates to COVID safety. It actually like has a really interesting narrative and leads back to the things that you care about You care about your children and that’s part of your personal brand.
Madeline Fetterly: So I would say if you can’t talk about your work for whatever reason, and there are a lot of good reasons why people can’t or feel like they shouldn’t, there are other things about you as a person that you can talk about. And so take some time to really write those things down and really focus in on the other ways that you spend your time. I mean, I’m just rambling, but another great example is say you love cooking. Okay great. What are the, like maybe you bought a subscription to Masterclass and so you have been doing some of the cooking classes on Masterclass, like say something about that. Masterclass is a very well known. It’s prominent, there’s a huge network around it. It’s interesting. I’m sure other people in your network have also been doing Masterclass and there’s a connection right there.
Madeline Fetterly: So I just think there are so many ways that we overlook and that’s really the work that we do is because at the end of the day, you’re so tired, you’re burned out. You don’t have the capacity to think about, okay, what are those other things I can talk to? And so that’s where we come in and come alongside and really help hold that and give the space so that you have the capacity and a thought partner to think about those other content buckets and your overall thought leadership presence.
Tessa Burg: I love those two examples. It triggered a thought that for my next adult rec league soccer game. I’m gonna bring my camera and take some shots of my team and interview them on how we are keeping our fitness up.
Madeline Fetterly: Right or, okay soccer, great. Okay, Ted Lasso, okay. What are the 10 leadership traits we see from Ted Lasso? Right, right there, that’s great. ‘Cause it ties into you as like a leader and a professional, but it also is about soccer and something that you love. And there are totally articles online about Ted Lasso and his great leadership qualities, you know?
Tessa Burg: Yeah. Oh, I agree, I was obsessed with that show and the whole theme of leading with kindness really resonated. And that is something that you learn from sports and people who don’t, you see where they go in their career or how others perceive them. But professionally, when you take those qualities and start to get your visibility out there, it does generate true connections. That even if it’s not about your work does translate those to work. ‘Cause people wanna work with people they like, and that share their values.
Madeline Fetterly: Mm hmm, totally.
Tessa Burg: So what are some things when we’re thinking about this that people should avoid in personal branding or do you have any of mistakes that you’ve seen and when it goes wrong?
Madeline Fetterly: Right, I would say the biggest thing here when you’re thinking about personal branding is one again, it’s kind of what we’ve been talking about. Don’t put yourself in a box. People really wanna see these authentic professionals. So if you are only talking about one thing, it’s gonna get really boring and people are gonna zone out and you’re not gonna attract the kind of influence that you probably want. And so I would really think about investing in that individual presence and thinking about all the things that make you a multidimensional person. So that would be one thing.
Madeline Fetterly: The second thing I would say is know your platform that you’re on. So obviously how we interact on LinkedIn is different than how we interact on Instagram, is different than how we interact on Twitter. So a great example of this is on Instagram we know that video is king. That is like what Instagram really wants to see. And you see like the CEO of Instagram gives like a weekly video update et cetera. And that’s like really smart and content creators and influencers, they always make sure to check that out because it affects them and it’s how they get their information about Instagram. If the CEO of Instagram was doing a weekly, well, maybe he could get away with it ’cause it’s Instagram. But like if we were doing a video every week on LinkedIn, that is just not appropriate that is not the way people are using LinkedIn. So I would say make sure your platform, know what’s gonna perform well and how to tweak your strategy based on what platform you really wanna see the most engagement and reach from. So that would be another thing.
Madeline Fetterly: And similarly to that, like we know that like LinkedIn no longer is that static online resume. It really is a thought leadership platform. However, it is still a very professional platform. And so you probably wanna of leave your politics at the door. You really don’t wanna get into like controversial things that we all know like that’s kind of what Facebook has turned into. So if you’re really spicy about something fine, you can talk about it on Facebook, but I would not bring those kinds of things into the LinkedIn channel. So that, yeah, that would be the second thing, really know your platform.
Madeline Fetterly: And then the third thing of course is just what we know about marketing in general and it’s know your audience. So do the research in advance to know who are you trying to garner influence from? What are the things that they care about? What are the messages that resonate with them? And then I would say one of the best things about social media is that we have all the data. So you can track on a weekly basis how things are performing, how many people are looking at it, what the engagement rates are, where the people are located. LinkedIn does geo tagging for you. So there’s just, there’s so much great information and you can tweak and develop your strategy from there. So I would say, yeah, do the work to know your audience.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, that’s a really key tenant that we hear over and over again when we do conversations and interviews around lead generation, is you have to know the audience. So this is a very evolved process. Like I feel like ahead of this call, I thought personal branding was needing to know how to use hashtags in Instagram better. And now I’m hearing, it’s very much thinking about how to bring different, a different aspect of yourself. It doesn’t have to be your work self, two platforms that you care about, that people you want to influence care about in order to start building those relationships. What are some of the benefits your clients have gotten out of personal branding and what have been the results?
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, I would say so one thing I wanna just mention just based off your last point is if we think about all the work that we do to create the pitch, to sell the product or to raise money for the cause or the organization, we do all that work to develop cases for support, really thinking about the messaging and the branding that goes into it. This is the same idea, but you’re just translating it for an individual. So you’re taking the time to think about, okay, what is my personal pitch? Who am I, what is my value add? What are the things I wanna speak to and influence? And you’re taking the time to kind of map that out, and I would even say do it on a piece of paper, like create a personal message house where you have your brand purpose at the top, and then you have all those kind of content buckets and pillars of things that you wanna speak to. Because if we, yeah, if we do the work to sell the product or to whatever, we should also be thinking about ourselves in that way and really helping us cause one that’s good for the business and the product, but it’s also good for us in the long run like it helps set us apart and it helps us maintain relevance and perhaps set us up for more advancement or a career pivot or something like that.
Madeline Fetterly: I think a lot of times with women, like we kind of stand behind the curtains because we’re in support rules or we just have that higher level of imposter syndrome, but there, we are all doing, and this is true for all professionals, like we’re doing the work. And so we should really talk about ourselves as it relates to the work that we’re doing, whatever that is.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I agree. I saw this great quote that personal branding isn’t what you aspire to be, it’s who you are. And if you, it’s your value is in what you do and embrace that and it does inspire others and help bring them along for causes you care about. And it’s, I agree too that sometimes you just get so overwhelmed by all the doing that you don’t have time to broadcast it, but even though that if more people knew about it, you could get more money, you could get more attention for things that really matter. So thank you Madeline so much for all of this great information. I mean, this has been really enlightening and I love that we can take a lot of the things that we know about marketing and our audience can translate it to personal branding. Do you have any final thoughts or suggestions that you would give anyone listening who wants to get started in starting to build a personal brand?
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, I would say so one thing I have been thinking about a lot is just the reality that we don’t know, and this relates to us as individuals, but then also at a company business level, we don’t know where the workforce is going and everything is changing. And so relying exclusively on your existing connections and kind of the old tools that we’ve always turned to, might not continue to work in the future or might over time have a decrease in the dividends that it’s giving us.
Madeline Fetterly: And so I think we need to really think about what are the other tools in our toolkit that we can pull out and develop and individual influence and personal influence is definitely something that we see more and more of. I mean, for example, you guys know this ’cause your marketers but the number one marketing budget line item for the big companies now is Instagram. They’re investing the most of their marketing dollars into Instagram, into individual influencers. And so we just can’t really underestimate the value of that individual influence. And so I would say, if you’re trying to think about how do we stay top of mind, how do we stay relevant? How do we stay in the conversations?
Madeline Fetterly: One of the best tools we have that’s free and available to us is social media. And, but when we’re approaching social media, you wanna do it with purpose and intention. And that’s why the first thing we should do when we think about building that personal influence is to spend the time working on the personal brand to make sure that you kind of have it all hashed out in a clear strategy so that it doesn’t appear disjointed or inconsistent or kind of all over the place.
Madeline Fetterly: So I would say if you wanna get started and start out, really spend the time thinking about who you are, what are the things you care about? What are the causes you wanna amplify? And from there really build that personal message house where you have your overall brand purpose at the top, and then all the buckets and areas of expertise that you can speak to and use that as your roadmap for how you wanna create the content that’s gonna go up on your channels.
Tessa Burg: I love that suggestion. And it made me think about some results we’re seeing with content marketing and expertise. Like if you take that exact process you described and hand it over to a corporation and business, even in manufacturing or light industrial, or really anything, every company is an expert in something, it’s made up of people and people buy from people. And if you come and start marketing that expertise with that more personal influence, then is there a path forward for brands to start having almost like a personal brand based on the experts at their company?
Madeline Fetterly: Right, yeah, I mean, I would say if we’re just thinking about the channels specifically, like on LinkedIn if a company has a LinkedIn page and it’s posting things, and then that company’s influencer, CEO, CMO, whoever also has a LinkedIn page and is posting the same content but with personal reflection or with some sort of personalization added to it, I would say that the individual’s LinkedIn is probably gonna get more traction and be more successful than just the company one, because it’s authentic, it’s a person, and they’re adding their own personal reflection and their own thoughts about the new product or what the change or whatever it might be. So, yeah, I think, I think we’re gonna see more and more of that.
Madeline Fetterly: It’s like what I said with Instagram, the weekly updates from the CEO those are coming from his personal C, his personal Instagram handle, not Instagram. So I think we’re gonna be seeing more and more of that as we have more executive really step into that thought leadership role and really make a name for themselves outside of just their title at their company.
Tessa Burg: I love that as a starting point, that’s something even I could do like tomorrow, our company creates so much great content and some of it is done my expertise. Some of it is based on our other team member’s expertise and user experience and web development, and backend development and all that stuff. I like what you said about adding that personal reflection on it to make the content more accessible and get more traction. I mean, every time I read something from our team, I am inspired and simply just sharing that out, like here is something that we created today that really inspires me and why then it kind of helps me to get around like that imposter syndrome.
Madeline Fetterly: Yeah, great.
Tessa Burg: It’s just, you know, it’s just put it out there. It’s my personal opinion and thoughts, but also amplifying some of the awesome people around me.
Madeline Fetterly: Hmm, exactly.
Tessa Burg: Well Madeline, that is all the time we have for today. If somebody wanted to get a hold of you and engage you for these services, ’cause you described a lot of work and could definitely use an expert to help guide someone through their personal branding journey, where can they find you or how can they get a hold of you?
Madeline Fetterly: So you can find us on our website, it’s bethebrandcollective.com and then on our Instagram which is the same, Be The Brand Collective. And then our LinkedIn is also Be The Brand Collective. So those would be the three best places to check us out.
Tessa Burg: Awesome, and then if this is your first time listening to our podcast, visit tenlo.com, click on Podcast and subscribe. You can also see more episodes about using AI in marketing, the power of data, storytelling, and how to get more from your marketing journeys and customer research. We hope you tune in next time. Madeline, thank you again so much for being a guest and we will be talking to you soon.
Madeline Fetterly: Thank you so much.
CEO & Founder of Be The Brand
Madeline Fetterly is a partnership builder, creative storyteller, strategic thinker, and champion for women’s leadership. As the CEO and Founder of Be The Brand, Madeline partners with individuals to amplify their thought leadership and build purposeful and powerful online brands. She believes we each have a voice and a story to tell, and it’s up to us to choose how we use it. In addition to her expertise in strategic counsel, Madeline is passionate about good, strong leadership; being mission obsessed; and creating people-focused work environments.Get In Touch With Madeline