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Audience Building

December 7, 2023

Don’t Build a Personal Brand

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

We wrapped up ​our 30-day sprint​ as part of Build in Public Mastery and it was a huge success. We saw a bunch of progress and realization from the sprinters like ​CK​:

Or ​Vlad​, ​Denys​, and ​Iliyan​.

But then ... I also spotted something.

I always enjoy browsing everyone's social posts to see if they're improving, and I usually see 2 types of social presence.

The 1st type makes people go "This person is so boring! 😪". The 2nd type makes people go "I'd love to talk to this person! 🤩"

This is what I call Personal Brand vs Active Presence.

I talked about this concept in my book, ​Find Joy in Chaos​. It is exactly this comment from Ryan that inspired me to share it with you (Yup, and I waited a whole year)

Let's imagine

Imagine going to a Christmas party hosted by a new friend you met. When you enter the party, you get super excited. Not only is the place fully decorated, but it is also packed with interesting people with great vibes. You’re getting curious about this new friend.

But throughout the evening, you see her sticking to her closest friends at the corner of her flat. She even disappears from her place from time to time. How do you feel about this party? This host? About getting to know her better? You’re likely okay about the party, but you’re not so sure about the host.

She doesn’t seem approachable and inviting.

This is exactly what happens on social media today. A lot of people love to spend a lot of time polishing up their profiles and crafting posts. Most of their posts, sadly, are ​wisdom bombs.​ They're just throwing words out. They don't really care if people reply or not. Yet! They hope that people will somehow show up, find them super awesome, and give them "engagement".

That's wishful thinking.

To improve your presence, you have to shift from a personal brand (display) to an active presence (action).

Personal Brand vs Active Presence

In my book, I talked about figuring out your PIERS framework, a way to clarify who you are and bring your online self as close to your real-life self as possible.

When you set up your social profile, what you have is a static personal brand. It is just the image you put up for other people to see. It is a perception that often includes a person, experiences, and competencies.

It is a one-way street. That’s why it is just a display.

But since social media is more about building a community around yourself, an active presence is what you want, especially in the early days. It includes how involved you are in the community, how engaging you are, how much people respect you, how often people talk to you, whether people even respond to you, whether people support your work, etc.

You can see that it is a two-way street with a lot of interactions and conversations. That's action!

How to make the shift

You need to host your Christmas party differently!

Don’t put the focus on fancy decorations and food. They might impress the guests but they won’t remember you. Instead, be the host that genuinely goes around getting to know people and bridging cool conversations.

You don't need to be clever. Just talk to a friend.

This is you trying to be clever & talk at people:

This is me being curious and want to make a conversation:

See the difference?

You might not get to every single person in the room, but the 5 or 10 people you chat with, I bet they’ll be talking to you afterward and introduce their friends to you.

The easiest way to have an active presence is to build your new project in public and involve the people around you. You’ll be amazed at how easy but appealing that is.

I should borrow what CK ​said here​:

Now, why don't you go take a look at your latest 10 posts? Try to read it as a 3rd person. Do you feel that you're being talked to? Or do you feel invited?

Start building your Active Presence!

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Table of Contents

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free