“Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”: Here’s How to Unlock Your Personal Brand
Ah, the personal brand. You know the drill. “Build it and they will come.” And it’s simple, too, apparently. I mean, you hear it everywhere: your vibe attracts your tribe. Sounds easy enough, right? All you have to do is get your vibe right and you’ll find your personal brand!
So we set out to convey the vibe we think people want, the vibe we believe people will connect with. When we do this, though, it’s often forced, and people can sense that.
Then do you know what happens? It comes across as inauthentic. It doesn’t attract your tribe. In fact, it probably repels them.
Harsh? Maybe, but it’s true nonetheless!
If you’re trying too hard to project a particular vibe, chances are it’s not authentic.
Let me tell you a short story. Not too long ago, I was struggling to find my personal brand. I kept trying to “design” it; I’d write out what I thought I was trying to communicate to my target audience, identify my ideal clients, and refine my niche. Then refine, refine, and refine some more.
It was struggle central. Writing what you think others want to hear, in the way they want to hear it—that shit’s not easy! It’s also not effective. And more importantly, it’s no fun.
Do you want to know what finally turned things around for me?
A Facebook group. But not in the way you’re probably thinking.
Nope, I didn’t find some amazing insight from a group member, or download a freebie all about personal branding. Not even close.
Here’s what actually happened.
Learning What Not to Do
I saw post after post of the same exact kind of content. The same long-form, feel good, inspirational posts flooded with butterfly and heart emojis. Oftentimes, this kind of post is accompanied by a picture of a young lady bathed in sunlight, working happily on her laptop outdoors in a flowing white dress with perfectly manicured nails.
You know the type of post I’m talking about, right?
“Drop your favorite emoji in the comments and I’ll show you how you can live a perfect life like mine!”
At first, these posts made me feel like crap. I kept thinking, jeez, this doesn’t resonate with me at all. I don’t fit in here.
Then I had an epiphany: so fucking what?
If this doesn’t resonate with me, then THIS ISN’T MY TRIBE. Simple as that.
Instead of feeling shitty about not “fitting in,” embrace it. You’re not a misfit; those just aren’t your peeps.
I don’t mean to offend anyone, and I’m not saying these posts don’t work. Not to mention, I certainly use my fair share of emojis *insert monkey emoji here*
What I am saying is that if you feel you have to mimic a certain flavor of self-promotion, yet you find yourself rolling your eyes at it, then you shouldn’t be using it.
That’s not your vibe.
That’s not your tribe.
And it’s most definitely not your personal brand.
Here’s how to discover your true identity and unleash your REAL personal brand:
Find Your Authentic Self
I know, the word “authentic” is thrown around so much these days that you might be wondering “what the hell does it really mean to be authentic?”
Let’s go on a little adventure, shall we? I want you to use your imagination and really go through each exercise (bear with me, you won’t even break a sweat).
First, picture yourself in a professional setting—at work or in an interview. How do you behave? What are you wearing? What kind of language do you use? How are you sitting?
Okay, now imagine you’re with friends. Either hanging out playing games, eating lunch, or attending a shindig. How do you act now? What kind of clothing have you chosen? How do you speak, and what is your body language like?
Finally, pretend you’re with your family. You’re surrounded by your siblings, and maybe your favorite cousins. What does your behavior look like? How are you dressed? How are you speaking? Where are you sitting?
Of course, we have different personas for all the areas of our lives. We know how to code switch, if you want the academic term. In each scenario, you undoubtedly act, look, speak, and behave differently.
When I’m with family, I am all out ridiculously silly and c-r-a-z-y weird. I tell stupid jokes, make faces I’d never let anyone else see, physically and verbally abuse my brothers (all in good fun, of course), and otherwise act like a total buffoon that heaven forbid the world ever be subjected to.
That is my most authentic self, in the deepest, most profound sense of the term. And with every level of lesser intimacy—friends, coworkers, bosses—I hide a bit more of my truest self and become my more socially acceptable self.
This brings me to my next point.
Let Your Crazy Out
Note that I’m not talking about a real estate agent or lawyer, for example, trying to build their reputation. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t take your business seriously and be professional in ways that really matter (i.e., delivering on your promises, being timely, being reliable and trustworthy, etc.). Essentially, use common sense and practice business with integrity.
But as a writer, blogger, or other creative, your personal brand should be a reflection of your shining, awesome, pure you-ness.
It may sound corny, but personal branding is partially about loving and respecting exactly who you are and how you show up in the world. So you like D&D but you’re afraid that’s “too nerdy” for the tribe you want to attract?
Consider this: do you want to hang around people who would judge you for your passions? The things that give you joy and light you up?
Let it all out. So you’re a crazy cat lady, or you have a penchant for erotica? I can guarantee you’re not the only one.
Do you know what’s going to happen when you let your crazy out? You’re going to have like-minded people swarming to you like flies to…honey…let’s go with honey.
This is what “your vibe attracts your tribe” really means. You ARE your personal brand, so, baby, let it alllll hang out.
Stop Trying to Please Everyone
Have you ever noticed how viral social media stars have a massive following of die-hard fans, but if you read the comments under their posts, they often have A LOT of critics as well? Some people downright hate them.
And there’s this weird, ongoing battle between fans and haters; the haters spew insults and talk about how lame and unfunny (or worse) the public figure is, and the fans come to their rescue, “why do you watch them, then?”
It’s a fair question, and I’m sure there’s sound psychological reasoning behind it, but that’s not the point here.
The point is, you’re NEVER going to be loved by everyone, and if that’s your intention, you probably won’t achieve much success at all. Why? Because people need to feel deeply, passionately, and unequivocally connected to you. And they can’t feel that way if you’re trying so hard to please everyone and offend no one that you’re about as bland as a loaf of Wonderbread.
Be the multigrain variety: unique, hearty, full of surprises, and maybe a little nutty.
Not everybody likes multigrain, but those who do are loyal AF and would never mess with that refined crap.
(Anybody else getting hungry?)
Embrace Your Unique Voice
Now that you’ve identified your authentic self, you’re willing to be nutso/prude/crude/whatever floats your boat, and don’t give a flying fuck what others think of you, it’s time to cultivate your true voice.
Love puns? Tweet ‘em. Cuss like a sailor? Don’t hold back. Think you’re a comedic genius? I’ll be the judge of that.
But seriously, run with whatever you’ve got. What do people always tell you they love about you? I know I have a few catchphrases because my friends point them out to me!
Try this: how would you talk to your sister or childhood BFF? If you’re a total goofball when you’re completely unfiltered, don’t try to sound like a stuffy financial advisor online. If you’re one of those sweeter-than-cotton-candy types, don’t try to sound edgy because you think that’s what “works.” The opposite is also true.
Write and speak online as if you were having a convo with your best buds—the way you REALLY talk when you’re being your truest self. That’s the ticket to finding your voice and brand.
No matter where you’re building your platform—Facebook, your blog, YouTube—embrace what makes you YOU. Let your authentic voice burst from the screen (or speakers). Be the crazy you’d be around your family. Or, you know, at least close to that. Some manners and tact are required!
Deep Breath, Put Yourself Out There
Personal branding, for many, is a discovery process. You have to start putting yourself out there and see what you gravitate toward. It’s like writing – the more you do it, the more you discover about yourself, your beliefs, and your voice.
Stop looking at what everyone else is doing.
Don’t worry what other people are saying or how they’re saying it.
I’m the happiest and most whole when I am my absolute true, no-holds-barred self. And I have a feeling you will be, too.
As a creative solopreneur trying to make your mark in this insanely crowded online world, you’re going to want to the truest version of you that you possibly can be.
Take a deep breath, stop doubting yourself already, and post that damn Instagram caption rife with you-ness.
Watch your vibe attract your tribe.
Want to find your voice AND your tribe?
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Have you found your authentic self and nailed your voice? Or are you still in the discovery process? How would you describe your personal brand? Let’s get the comment party started!
Hi, I'm Erin!
I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.
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