Personal branding is often mistaken for high social media activity. Social media is indeed a tool to share your story with a bigger audience but posting more frequently doesn’t equal a stronger personal brand. Growing your personal brand even starts offline, with defining your identity. And before you want to start posting on social media you should think about offline strategies because they make a huge difference in your brand value.
Your personal brand is often described as what people say about you when you are not in the room. It is basically your reputation, and therefore we always say that everyone has a personal brand – whether they like it or not. With personal branding strategies you influence the opinion of those people. As an athlete you are a public figure and therefore your non-social media actions are often widely noticed as well. Let’s talk about which offline strategies could be beneficial for your athlete brand!
Athletes are expected to engage with their fans and the way you engage with them, will affect your personal brand. Your body language influences the impression people receive and therefore make sure you transmit the emotions you want to transmit. Nobody wants to engage with someone who radiates negative vibes either, right?
On most occasions you know you will have to engage with fans, on matchdays for example. Be prepared for those moments, also when the result wasn’t what you hoped for. That doesn’t mean that you should act very happy after losing an important game either! Be yourself, but always in control of your emotions.
In-person interactions have a great impact on the people you engage with as well. Here you want to be authentic always and use these opportunities to directly make a positive impact on someone else. I’m not talking about a life-changing impact – that would put a lot of pressure on every single interaction.
When someone approaches you for a photo for example, make it a special moment for that person. It is a perfect moment to share your personal values without giving a long speech or whatsoever. If sustainability is one of your key values, you might compliment the fan on anything sustainable she is carrying for example. With a small positive note, you already make an impact on that fan, and she is more likely to support you and your cause in the future. The key is being polite and taking time for the other person to make them feel valued and appreciated.
Not only in moments of fan engagement, but also when building other relationships. Developing your network is important in many industries and very much true for athletes as well. The network you build during your career will affect the sports and commercial opportunities while playing your sport and will help you make the transition to your post-athletic career as well. Focus therefore on building these relationships with people in positions of authority because they are the ones who can help you grow in your career eventually.
If you have no clue where to start, at Valenze we work extensively on this topic with our athletes. Just drop us a message if you would like to know more!
Besides the aforementioned body language, also your appearance influences the impression people have of you. Be aware of that and dress yourself accordingly. On the pitch you are quite limited in your choice of clothing but often off the pitch you do have more freedom. Use it and express yourself through your fitting. Think about the colors, style, and fit of your clothes, as well as any accessories you might use to add a unique flair. Your wardrobe will connect you with your audience. But let it be your own style because you don’t want to dress like someone you are not, just to stand out.
In the analysis about Trinity Rodman’s athlete brand we mentioned an example of how her style even brought in interesting sponsor deals. When we spoke about communicating who you are, we shared an example of Megan Rapinoe. She also clearly uses her style to express her key values. So what is your style?
A fifth action point every athlete should consider when developing an offline personal branding strategy is volunteering. You might ask yourself why? Fulfilling social services has multiple benefits. On one hand you create meaningful connections with people that have the same values as you and want to give back to the community as well. They are like-minded and are very likely to become loyal fans or even potential partners. On the other hand, by volunteering you show your commitment to your own values which gives you more credibility and will increase your brand value.
Often clubs organize certain social services for players, by visiting hospitals for example, but it would be smart to also think about ONG’s who support something you personally stand for and reach out to them to discover how you can be involved.
Do you already have a strategy in place for all five areas of offline personal branding?