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How to Build a Successful Personal Brand with Elizabeth Harr

October 10, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

“Building a personal brand” is often used as a euphemism for “building authority”. But is it really the same thing? What does it mean when we say we are building a personal brand?

In this episode, Elizabeth Harr and Alastair McDermott discuss what a successful personal brand looks like, the 4 key elements of a personal brand strategy, and the signature styles that you can choose from when developing your personal brand.

They also discuss tips for people who are finding it tough to create content, why reducing cognitive load on the consumer is important, and why research is key to building authority.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Elizabeth Harr is an accomplished entrepreneur and executive specializing in brand management and growth strategies for professional services firms. A partner at Hinge, she leads Hinge’s business development team, helping businesses solve critical marketing and brand-related challenges.


people, website, audience, content, personal brand, building, expert, consultants, authority, brand, important, firms, referrals, expertise, talk, podcast, professional services, specialization, speaking, signature style

Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Elizabeth Harr


Elizabeth Harr  00:00

The hallmark of a successful personal brand is one that can take a complex subject matter and explain it simply.


Voiceover  00:09

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:25

This episode is sponsored by WebsiteDoctor. What’s this – a sponsor read? Well, kind of! Technically, every episode of The Recognized Authority up until around episode 60 was actually “sponsored” by WebsiteDoctor because it’s the other business that I own. It’s the “sister company” of The Recognized Authority, and so it funded all the editing, branding, recording services, transcription, everything for around the first 60 episodes or so until The Recognized Authority started to break even.  So I thought I’d give a call out to WebsiteDoctor here! It’s a tiny agency of three people, we focus on building lead generation, authority-building websites, only for professional services. We don’t do retail ecommerce or anything like that anymore. We used to do that 5/10/15 years ago, but we’ve been building websites in WordPress since 2004, we only build websites in WordPress. And because our graphic designer is incredibly talented, we do amazing brand identity work as well. So if you’re looking to upgrade your website or branding, check out And that link is in the show notes. On with the episode.  So today, my guest is Elizabeth Harr from Hinge Marketing. And Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur. She’s an executive who specialized in brand management and growth strategies for professional services. And she’s a partner at Hinge where she leads their business development team. She helps businesses and individuals to solve critical marketing and brand related challenges, so welcome, Liz!


Elizabeth Harr  01:52

Thanks so much. I’m excited to be here.


Alastair McDermott  01:54

Yeah, me too. And I’m really happy to talk to folks from hinge because it’s a company I’ve read some of your books I’ve been following the stuff that you put out about research. I think that research small scale research for for professional services, I think is really important. And so I really love what you guys are putting out there. So yes, great, great, great to talk to you. So we’re going to talk today a little bit about personal branding, developing a personal brand and the relationship with authority. So I want to ask you, first off, I hear people talk about building a personal brand, and other people talking about building authority and becoming a recognized authority. Are those the same thing? Or is there is there a nuance between those?


Elizabeth Harr  02:35

Yeah, I – that’s a great question! – I think it probably depends a little bit on the universe, and you know where you’re talking about this. But when it comes to professional services, I would say those two are, are tightly interlinked, because there’s no reason to build a personal brand, unless you’re going to be seen as an authority and an expert in a specified area.


Alastair McDermott  03:01

Right? Because Because you could build a brand where you’re not seen as an authority. But I think at that point, you’d be more like a celebrity of some kind, right?


Elizabeth Harr  03:10

Yes, yeah. And I think, you know, people can really spin their wheels trying to figure out how do I develop a brand, when it’s tied to what audiences most desire? And that is expertise, then you’ve got a much more defined path forward.


Alastair McDermott  03:28

Right. So can you tell me a little bit about how you actually think about developing a personal brand like when it when you’re working with somebody who’s a principal of a consulting firm, a lot of people listening to this are solo consultants, or have very small firms? Can you tell me what what do you think about when you’re talking to them about developing their their personal brand?


Elizabeth Harr  03:46

Yeah. So I would say the first thing is to think about what is a personal brand in the first place. And for us, when we think about what a personal brand is, we think of it as a it’s a, of course, it’s a definition of your signature style. But it’s also a definition of how you deliver the expertise that your signature style is around. So that’s, that’s what a personal brand is from, from my perspective.  Now, when we think about developing it, well, you’ve got to have a strategy. So what’s a what’s a personal brand strategy? Well, the personal brand strategy is really a roadmap around centered around four things, the of the definition of who you are, and where you’re going to lay a stake in the ground as an expert, the tools that you’re going to need to make that personal brand visible, the skills required, and then actually implementing so kind of think about it in four distinct phases. And I can go into all kinds of detail there. But that’s, that’s really how we think about the development of a personal brand.


Alastair McDermott  04:56

Really cool. Okay, I do want to go into the detail of those two but I want to just go back to something that you mentioned earlier on, you mentioned signature style. So I just want to get you to talk a little bit more about that, before we go into the for the four elements. Can you just tell me a little bit about, like what you mean, when you say you develop, like having your signature style? What does that mean?


Elizabeth Harr  05:16

Yeah. So when you think about, why would you develop a brand of around anything in the first place, it’s, it’s because you want people to select you, right? Whether you’re a firm or an expert, when people select you, and, and they need to, they need to be able to identify with something when they’re making when they’re in that selection process. So that’s why you want a signature style in the first place. Now, there are all kinds of, of styles out there. But we’ve actually done a lot of research around specific kinds of signature styles that really get a lot of traction, if you will, in professional services. And we’ve found that a couple in particular are useful. So one is what we call a curator. And this is a signature style that is sort of an aggregator of different types of expertise that then gets disseminated out. And a curator is useful because they can, they can become sort of the go to resource for lots of different types of, of content. Another type is a bridge builder. So think about maybe think about, like an architect that specializes in historic preservation, but they also do it in a sustainable way. So they’re bridging to kind of unique disciplines, if you will, and turning. And so their signature style is one that bridges the gap across a couple of disciplines. And there’s there and is the value.


Alastair McDermott  06:56

Right. Okay, so like they’re kind of at an intersection. That’s right.


Elizabeth Harr  06:59

That’s right. You know, and, and, you know, there’s a couple others as well. But I think the point is to figure out, I mean, it’s all well and good to think about what you want. But really, at the end of the day, what’s most important is what does your audience want? Who are you serving? And what are they going to gravitate towards? What will resonate with them? And what will differentiate you? And those are really the keys to figuring out what should your signature style be?


Alastair McDermott  07:25

Okay, really cool. Okay. We might come back to that later. But let’s talk about the four elements of this strategy. I think you said who you are the tools you use, the skills that you have, and then how you implement, right?


Elizabeth Harr  07:37

Yeah, yeah.


Alastair McDermott  07:38

Can you dig into those a little bit for me?


Elizabeth Harr  07:40

Yeah. So we find that those who have successful and highly visible personal brands, they do some things differently than those folks who just spin wheels, developing brands, and 10 years later, they’re still not very visible. So one of the things they do differently is in the strategy phase itself. So laying a stake in the ground around specialization is the number one best starting point. Because if you kind of aim to go wide, as opposed to going deep, I mean, think about it, when you’re out there selecting whether it’s a product, or a consultant, or whatever, you are drawn to specialization, because otherwise, you know, jack of all trades, there’s a million of those out there, very difficult to get attraction around. So that’s the number one thing, those who have strong personal brands do differently. And that is their starting point. And the strategy is choose a specialization.


Alastair McDermott  08:42

Yeah, I love that. And that’s something I talk about and repeat over and over again on on the show. And I even have an entire podcast called Specialization Podcast, which is all about helping people to do that, to make that decision. So if you need help with that, go, go check out that show. Yeah, so we’re, I’m fully on board. And like the listener knows, okay, this is why I was just talking to people from age because they’re all about specialization. And absolutely, I love that. So yeah, one hundred percent.


Elizabeth Harr  09:12

I was gonna say you also talk a lot about and you mentioned at the opening of the call about being seen as an authority figure. So that’s really why you need to specialize. You can’t genuinely say you’re an authority in 15 things that doesn’t work and marketplace doesn’t receive it that way. So there’s a reason that specialization works. Then the second thing that experts do differently that those with strong personal brands do differently, is they do not embark on a single solitary technique. They don’t build a single tool. They don’t spend any money on anything until they’ve done one thing and that is study their audience. What’s keeping your audience up at night, when they wake up at 3am or whatever time It is and they can’t go back to sleep or the discussion in the boardroom that never had resolution. How do they learn about potential solutions? Once they’ve learned about potential solutions, and they’ve gathered a list of consultants to use? How do they make the buy decision? There’s a whole journey that audiences take, and knowing your audience’s behavior should anchor any decisions you make. When it comes to well, what techniques am I going to use? What tools do I need? How often do I need to do it? What channels do I need to do it in shouldn’t do a thing until you’ve, you’ve got that rigorous understanding of your audience’s behavior. So that’s really the second thing that in the strategy that strong personal brands do differently.


Alastair McDermott  10:44

Yeah, I love it. Okay. So we’re, we’re talking about first niching down specializing, what I say by that is, you can’t become a recognized authority in your field. If you don’t pick a field, if you try and be everything, you can’t be recognized as an authority because it just doesn’t work that way. And then doing research. And this is something that I was helped do by my business coach, Philip Morgan, he helped me do some research where I did a study, survey of over 1000, at this point, independent management consultants through using through through LinkedIn, and through kind of multiple choice surveys and qualitative and quantitative type questions. And I find that super helpful in helping me to make strategic decisions and even about the branding of this podcast. And that all came from originally doing that research. So yeah, I think that research, and it doesn’t have to be a huge research project, like you don’t have to survey 1000 consultants like I did, you can do it on a smaller scale as well. Okay, so those are, those are two elements, I think you said of those firms that are like performing like the high performing firms. So what else? What else is setting them apart?


Elizabeth Harr  11:57

So the other thing that sets them apart is they think very prescriptively about what type of content they should be producing. I mean, everybody knows that a good personal brand is rooted in content marketing, why? Because that’s how audiences like to learn and digest information. So I don’t need to go into that. I think everybody understands that. But the big gap I see or where a lot of consultants and firms fail, is, they just kind of grab and go, Hey, Bob, what are you passionate about? Do you have time on Monday to write a blog, and then, you know, Mary, you get Thursday, and just whatever you guys are passionate, or just whatever you’re hearing about, just kind of write something we need to get out? And that is the absolute worst way to think about how you should be expressing what you are an expert in.  A better way and what what experts do who are successful and is what they do differently is they’ve got this model in their heads, if you think of think of a Venn diagram, and on this side is the very first exercise I talked about, what are you a specialist in what services are going to help you evolve into this well known, highly regarded visible expert, what services are important to doing that? And on this side, is what you learned in your research? What’s important to your audience? What will resonate with them? What are they looking to solve the intersection of those two, is exactly what you should be writing about speaking about networking around, focusing all your activities around, because that keeps you disciplined, if you will, around not just what’s important to you, but what’s important to your audience.  So that is the third thing is build a very prescriptive model for your content for what you are going to write about. Because, and honestly, this is a this probably an eight hour workshop unto itself. But when you do that, you are all at the same time, giving yourself a model for titles that you’re going to write keywords that you’re going to go after places that you’re going to be found all of a sudden, this thing that is so hard and nebulous for people to follow is just becomes this nice, tight prescriptive model. And it is everything. It is a North Star for developing that personal brand. Yeah,


Alastair McDermott  14:27

I love that. And I think you know, this is this is one area and I help people in my coaching group all the time with creating content, and batching and batching upfront and creating content upfront, I think is one of the best ways to do that. But it can be really difficult for to to come up with ideas and when you don’t have that Northstar. So this is like I love that concept of those Venn diagrams, the intersection there of of what your clients are looking for and what your expertise is and then focusing down on that area in the middle, that makes a lot of sense.  So I’d love just to get a little bit tactical here. Do you have any other any other recommendations or suggestions for people who are finding it tough to create content? Like I hear a lot of a lot of the time, you know, I don’t have time for that. Or, you know, I don’t want to do video because I’m like, I’m afraid of how I look, or I don’t know the technical stuff. What, like, Do you have any tactical or strategic tips for people who wants to do more content?


Elizabeth Harr  15:29

Yeah. So you know, we’ve kind of been talking in the strategic realm. So just to stay there for a second, thinking about the tactical, really should anything you do should mirror, what your research shows about how your audience makes decisions. So oftentimes, there is going to fall in three pillars, and it’s going to be speaking, publishing and networking. So inevitably, you’re going to have to do something in those three realms. When you just focus on one realm, like you’re only going to publish because you can’t stand networking events, then you’re really going to need to be realistic about how visible your personal brand can be. So that’s one thing to recognize is you’ve got to be visible in the right channels through those three pillars.  Now, tactically speaking, when it comes to each of those, there are some very specific things that our research shows work best. And knowing that can really kind of keep you disciplined and focus. So when it comes to publishing, there’s two kinds of things that work well. One is something that is just open access, easy to digest. That’s why a blog on your website works so well. That’s why sharing open access content through social media works so well, isn’t that, hey, everybody’s been blogging. Now, I gotta jump on the blog blog bandwagon, too. It’s that folks who don’t know you, they have you haven’t yet earned their trust, they need something to that is easily digestible doesn’t require that they give you an email or something like that, but is a way to experience your expertise. So something open access, it could be a video blog, it could be a written blog, but it needs to be open access, easy to digest. And by the way, it should be approachable.  A lot of experts, we work with consultants, they are very cerebral, and they want to publish things that are very technical in nature. And that might be great for the final end user. But I will tell you, decision makers can’t digest that. And even if you’re to say, well, you know, my final decision maker is the technical expert. They’re not the only ones who are judging and vetting you. So your content has to be approachable, and digestible, and relate to those key challenges that your audiences are trying to that they’re grappling with.


Alastair McDermott  18:03

Yeah, and this is something I talk to people a lot about, which is the concept of cognitive load, and reducing the cognitive load on the end consumer of whatever we create, whether that’s your website, making your website, easy to navigate. And it’s not because the person is dumb, it’s because the person is consuming your content, while they’re trying to do five other things. And you want to reduce the amount of stress that puts on the CPU up in their brain and make it easier for them to, to process it quickly and understand. Because if they if they comprehend more fully more completely what you’re doing, and if it’s easier to use, what you’re creating, they’re more likely to come back to it, they’re more likely to share it. And so I think that, you know, as, as creators of websites of content of anything that we do, we should be we’re making it easier to consume and reducing the cognitive load. So I’m 100% with you on that.


Elizabeth Harr  19:00

Could not agree more. In fact, the hallmark of a successful personal brand, is one that can take a complex subject matter and explain it simply, succinctly and simply. That’s the hallmark of a strong personal brand.


Alastair McDermott  19:14

Yeah, I love that. That’s, that’s, that’s cool. That’s gonna be a quote I use for this episode. Yeah, no,


Elizabeth Harr  19:21

I think that’s it harder than harder than it sounds. But yet,


Alastair McDermott  19:24

Yeah, it’s really hard to explain something simply. And, and, and that’s, that’s where I think true expertise comes in. I think Richard Feynman, the physicist, had had a quote around around that. So I’ll try and I’ll try and stick that in the show notes as well. Okay. Can I go back to our discussion earlier from personal brand strategy, and he talked about four things who you are the tools you use the skills and then implementing it. So the who you are, is that the specialization and the research and the content model is that that part?


Elizabeth Harr  19:57

Yes, that that is but there’s one other element to defining who you are. And that is understanding the competitive landscape, you simply must be aware of who else is out there, who else is being found for the the area of specialization that you’re trying to lay stake around. Because you want to know what your audience is exposed to when they’re out there searching and your message must be differentiated from anyone elses out there. Otherwise, you’re doing nothing but contributing to the noise and wasting money on developing a brand that’s going to be seen as undifferentiated.


Alastair McDermott  20:32

How do you differentiate from other people who are out there who are doing something very similar to what you do? For the same types of businesses? Are the same types of people? How do you differentiate you from them, particularly when we’re all and I see this in the management consulting space a lot, where we have these companies that are very similar.


Elizabeth Harr  20:50

So I mean, this is the thing that that is probably the most difficult thing for firms and experts and solo consultants to understand how to do because we call it this sea of sameness. And if you’re an exercise you can do is everyone who’s listening to this, go to your website, whether it’s a firm or do your own website and take your logo off, and just read the copy. Just read through it. Could that website be 10 other firms websites? Usually? And unfortunately, the answer is yes. And so the key to differentiating is, in the research, understanding what your audience, what are they gravitating towards? What are they grappling with? What will they respond to? And understanding that helps you avoid saying, I’m a trusted advisor, which course you are. But everybody else says that. And honestly, that’s not a criteria that audiences use. They don’t say, I’m going to build a list of firms to consider and just they all have to be trusted advisors, they just assume you are so don’t waste real estate, saying that you are. Avoid the research can help you avoid saying that, and then tying well prove it to me that you’re a trusted adviser. What? What do you know about your audience? The what? How do you solve their problem in a way that other firms and consultants aren’t talking about? Oftentimes, you might have an approach to solving their problem that is similar to others, but they’re not saying it. And they’re just stuck in this. We’re trusted advisor, we have the best people and you know, we have a great reputation. And that’s why studying the competitive landscape is so important, because you will see often see opportunities to say something that other firms aren’t saying.


Alastair McDermott  22:47

I saw an example of this and I think it was in beer. I think it was Budweiser, where they they started saying it’s beechwood aged Budweiser. And one of the marketing marketing people said, Yeah, but every beer is beech wood aged. The person, the person said, Yeah, but they don’t say it. And so now like if I if I think beech wood age like I definitely think it’s Budweiser, right? I don’t necessarily like Budweiser is like beer, but I like like that, that association they’ve done, you know,


Elizabeth Harr  23:19

Who knew there was such a redeeming quality of Budweiser? But yeah, it’s, it is so true. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us. But we’re so caught up in all this marketing speak and jargony stuff and acronyms and so on. And it’s just falls flat. So sometimes the answer is right in front of us.


Alastair McDermott  23:40

Yeah. Okay. Really, really interesting. All right, I’m gonna nail you down. And gonna come back to this list of four things that we were talking about, because I want to talk about some of these other parts, the tools, the skills, and then implementing it all. Can you talk me through the tools?


Elizabeth Harr  23:53

Yeah. So once you have developed the strategy, you know who you are. And because you’ve studied your audience, you know what techniques you’re going to adopt and in what channels and so on because you’ve studied their behavior. Now, you need a set of tools that will allow that strategy to work. So tools are things like a media kit, okay. When, when, so if you know part of your techniques are to get tapped as a speaker, or to get published in journals where your audience is reading? Well, you’re gonna have to get pitched when you get pitched. The the committee that’s considering you is going to go straight to your website and they want to easily access don’t make it hard for these folks. They want to access headshots that they can download bios of different links that they can download 50 100 250 words.  So having a media kit at the ready is a very, very valuable tool. Another tool is building your website in a way that is an interactive gateway to your expertise brochure websites, don’t cut it. It’s a waste of time. Brochure websites just have an Nice imagery, expensive marketing copy that you paid somebody to write on your behalf. And then it’s all promotional. A, a website that is a useful tool for your personal brand, will be educational in nature, less promotional. So it houses your articles and your blogs and your media kit in your app, and so on. So those are two really important tools. There could be others, depending on who your audience is, who you’re competing with, how large or small your budget is. But I’d say those are the top two tools.


Alastair McDermott  25:32

Yeah. And it’s interesting, you mentioned those. So first off that media kits, I recommend that you have a link to it at the bottom of every page in your website. So I have one on my website, and it’s called media slash press kit. And people can go there and they can download and they can see what other podcasts I was guesting on and all things like that you can you can put a lot of a lot of different content in there you can you can have logo walls of of media, where you appeared, or you can play in client logos, all sorts of stuff like that. Because it’s a page where people go to figure out, can they can they trust you, it’s a bit like your bed page.  The other thing about that is some of the research that I was doing around this area was around websites, because I’m a web designer, that’s my background. And so I was really interested in why our websites not important to people in the world of consulting. And that’s what brought me into the whole world of building authority. Because what I discovered was, websites are not important to businesses who do most of their lead, lead lead generation are most of their business development, through word of mouth and referrals. And in the world of consulting world, word of mouth, and referrals are the dominant to probably 95% of business development is done that way. And so your website is typically not as important a brochure site is usually okay in that situation, because all you need to do is prove to somebody who’s already got a warm referral to you to prove that you’re legitimate.  But where the website comes in becomes very important is when you build authority, and people are coming to you cold. That’s where you have to have a more interactive website, with the elements like you were talking about there with more of your content and with ways for people to sign up to get more of you by signing up for your email, or, you know, with press kits, all of that kind of stuff. So yeah, I’m 100% with you there.


Elizabeth Harr  27:20

Well, so here’s something interesting about referrals, to your point, that is always going to be part of how a professional services firm or consultant builds their pipeline, never gonna go away. And we’ve done it’s so important, in fact that we’ve done a lot of research on this. And we found about seven years ago, when we first looked at this phenomenon of referrals, we found that about five and 10, people who get referred to you, you’ve never heard from them. And the reason is, is because they are they they get your name, but the very first thing they do, and we’ve their science around this, the very first thing they do is go to your website to check you out. Even with a strong referral. Sometimes, you know, one out of 10 times they’ll call you, but nine out of 10, they’re going to do their own due diligence. So they do go to your website, and they need to see a reflection of what this referral source just said about you. Now, fast forward years later, we saw a really phenomenal shift in referrals. So in 2013, it was about five and 10 referrals that you never heard from guess what the number is today, of referrals you never hear from.


Alastair McDermott  28:34

Oh, I’m guessing it’s gonna be much higher. Now people reject me a lot more, right?


Elizabeth Harr  28:37

Yes, it is 8.25 out of you can have a quarter of a person. Isn’t that crazy? And that, but that that’s reflective of the shift. This is why you have to study your audience. It’s reflective of the shift in the buyer space, they are no longer taking just a flat referral, they’re going to do their own due diligence. They’re learning online, and where are they learning? They’re looking at your website, when they go to your website, what are they looking at, they’re looking at your bio, that’s why I love your idea, by the way of putting the press kit at the bottom of each page. That’s what they’re looking for an interactive gateway to your expertise. And then the other thing they’re going to do is they’re going to study your educational content. So that’s why having a protected space on your website for articles and blogs and white papers and things like that. Don’t stick it don’t bury it in the about section where they have to. It’s like the tertiary page, have it be a protected spot right at the top level navigation because that’s what buyers are looking for. And that helps you avoid that 8.25 out of 10 you’re not hearing from it helps you hear from the folks who just got referred to you so I just thought it would add that I think it’s just really interesting research.


Alastair McDermott  29:54

That that is fascinating and I I had no idea that the numbers weren’t that high. You know, even in the world of referrals, because what I try and help people with building authority is to move away from a dependence on referrals. And so that’s really fascinating that, you know, even if you are building a business solely on referrals, you still need to concentrate and having a really good website for that. So that’s, that’s really important. The other thing that you mentioned there, and just about, you know, like you mentioned, educating type content. And one thing that I see people putting up on, on their website on their blogs is press releases about company news, that is really of no interest whatsoever to potential clients. Like they don’t really care about, you know, your, your, your internal announcements and things like that. And so I think that it’s really important that it’s actually educating content that actually helps people, right?


Elizabeth Harr  30:49

Absolutely. That is a hard and fast rule from what you should not deviate. Because when you’re mixing this promotional stuff in with your educational content, guess what happens? They bounce, I mean, website, visitors have so many options available to them, when they’re out there searching, if they find something that is not what they’re looking for, then they’re not going to dig, and they’re not going to say, Oh, these first couple articles are about their new office and someone they hired, but I’m sure there’s some valuable educational content in here. They don’t do that. They just don’t you have three seconds. That’s it. And we talked to so many folks in professional services rather, because their use, they’re so used to combining news and insights. And I still see it all the time. But you said it perfectly. Your audience doesn’t care, we think it’s exciting. But nobody else does, that that’s not what they’re looking for.


Alastair McDermott  31:50

And I think maybe put it on, like a social media feed where it’s kind of ephemeral, and it disappears, you know, after time, but but don’t take up, you know, crucially valuable real estate, on your website navigation, or wherever it is, with with stuff that your audience doesn’t really care all that much better. Because everything that’s on there should be helping them in some way. And that’s, that’s what’s going to, that’s what’s going to help them to choose you. Right, because that’s, that’s what we want. We want people to select you. That’s what you said earlier. So, so yeah. 100% Okay, so So those are two of the the tools that you talked about the media kit on the website, you talked about skills, can you talk a little bit about that and dig into the skills for me?


Elizabeth Harr  32:30

Yeah, so this is really the third kind of bucket, if you will, of developing your personal brand. And the reason we talk about it as a distinct and independent bucket is because there’s nothing one and done about developing personal brand, nothing. And, you know, if you think about so you’ve laid your stake in the ground around your specialization, you know, what it is, you’re gonna go down that pathway and, and express that to people well think about how often the landscape shifts, the external environment, buyers shift, disruptive technologies, and companies come into play that shift how you even talk about your specialization, or maybe it becomes old news, and you’ve got to evolve somehow.  So just your knowledge base in general, is one area that has to continually be honed, and then the skills themselves. So I talked about speaking, publishing and networking, a lot of experts aren’t proficient in all three, like to your point about the video, I mean, most of them are definitely afraid of at least one of those. And so there also needs to be a plan in place to bolster the skills that you don’t have, or where you have gaps. So you mentioned a coach earlier, it’s a great way a lot of our experts need speaking coaches. Or if you can’t stand networking, then then there’s an opportunity to, to understand that and instead of networking, just focus on speaking at the networking events, that way, it’s less threatening to have to work the room so to speak, because people just come to you because you know, your your your speaker, but continually working on the skills required. And it’s going to be a little different for each person, because the skills you need, again, should reflect your specific audience and who you’re competing with and, and how folks learn. But it’s never one and done.


Alastair McDermott  34:36

Just to address something that you mentioned there, you know, and absolutely one of the best ways to do networking is to be speaking at an event and have people come to you afterwards you see a queue of people lined up to talk to the speaker afterwards. You know, even in the bar later on, there’s just people you know, but you won’t get invited to speak at events if you’re not building that brand if you’re not building your authority. Because why would somebody have somebody who was not an authority to speak at an event to hundreds of people, you know? So like, it’s, it’s kind of, it’s a chicken and egg situation, you have to, you know, in order to do that you have to build some authority. So and that’s where I think even things like podcasts like this is public speaking what we’re doing right now, you know, and I’m, I’m certain that it’s helping me with my public speaking, you know, having to come on and speak with people. And I’m sure that I’m improving my public speaking over time, but just purely through podcasting. So I think podcast guesting is very important as well. So all of that goes into the mix into this piece speaking and publishing and networking, and helping you with all of those. So yeah, I think that’s, that’s really important. So okay, so that’s the skills, right. So then implementing it all putting it all together, can you can you talk to you about how you take that fourth stage?


Elizabeth Harr  35:54

Yeah. So the fourth stage is I unbelievably where people stop and it is actually implementing this great strategy and plan that you’ve just developed. So you, number one, is you have to think about, where are you today? And how quickly do you need to get to where you want to be what for some folks, they have lifestyle companies, and there’s no heat to get anywhere quickly with others. Maybe there’s an acquisition on the horizon, they need to get where they’re going and a year. But understanding how aggressively you do or don’t need to get where you’re going, will in turn help you understand how aggressively you need to implement, but which in turn will dictate, okay, how many days? How many hours of each day are you going to spend in social media? How many hours of each week are you going to spend writing content, how many hours a V is, in other words, what you’ve got to dedicate time, whether it’s you solo, or a team of folks who are helping you, it you have to make sure that there is an implementation plan, otherwise, it will just sit and nothing will ever be visible to the audience that you’re looking to build visibility around?


Alastair McDermott  37:13

Yeah, so So you go to all the work of creating this really great strategy, which, which does have super potential, but it will just remain potential unless you actually take action.


Elizabeth Harr  37:23

Yes, and, you know, isn’t, it seems silly to even have to say that, but I do meet a lot of folks who have done part of the work. And then they just, you know, it’s just like a, there’s a wall. And it feels scary if and I understand this, so I’ve got empathy around this, and it feels scary to put yourself out there. They know it’s not a one and done. So it’s like, they’re, they’re respecting that process and saying, Hey, if I do this, I am in it. That’s, that’s something you have to grapple with.


Alastair McDermott  37:55

Yeah, it is. It’s that it I think that is that fear of putting yourself out there. And as soon as you put something up, like if you put up a video on YouTube, like YouTube commenters are the worst. I’ve never seen anything in social media, like, like the comments on YouTube videos. So you’re almost certainly going to get a negative comment. At some point, if you put up enough stuff on YouTube, at least if people are watching it. So you just like so I think you need to be prepared. If I put up my thoughts, somebody might criticize my thinking. And, you know, that’s that may happen. And so you have to kind of mentally prepare for that. And some people simply don’t want to do that, which I also understand, you know, but I think that, you know, if you, if you take if you take some time and and you’ve thought through what you’re doing, you’re genuinely and experts, more people will, will appreciate it, a lot more people will appreciate it. And you’ll get a lot of positive feedback as well.


Elizabeth Harr  38:48

You know, and to your point, I find LinkedIn in particular to be a very empathetic professional crowd of people looking to learn. And they do appreciate authenticity, by the way, and they do appreciate you kind of putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position where you’re, you’re, you know, putting a unique angle out that is useful. And there’s a lot, I rarely see the type of comments that you’re talking about, where you see it in other channels. I rarely see that in LinkedIn. So it is I would consider that to be like a safe, but also very target rich, if you will, environment to showcase your expertise.


Alastair McDermott  39:29

Yeah, I’m talking about worst case scenario there with YouTube and things like that, you know, like people who like to leave negative comments are probably not watching videos, you know, with educational content from consultants, they probably aren’t, you know, it’s not worth their time either. Which is the positive side of that. So yeah, but but but I think you do need to be mentally prepared to put yourself out there, which is that kind of phrase of, you know, exposing yourself and, and I think part of the reason why people appreciate what you do like even When your public speaking, is because they know that you’re risking a bit like you are taking risk by going and speaking on events, you might forget your words, you might stammer you might make a mistake, you might say the wrong number. You know, I’ve seen I’ve seen people who are their absolute experts in what they’re doing. And they say completely the wrong thing. And then they say, Oh, I don’t even know why I said that is that just happens, you know, like, that’s part of the risk of of what we do. But then I think that the audience who are listening to us, they’re also saying, you know, I wish I could be up there at that podium speaking like she’s speaking, you know. And like, they appreciate that you’re taking that risk as well. So there’s there is the the other side of it.  Yeah, so the implementing side, I think it’s really important. You also mentioned, you talked about, you know, where and how quickly, and I’m interested in that speed part, because one thing I’ve noticed is that creating content, and particularly for solo, independent consultants, people like that, creating content where they don’t have a team and a budget to hire people hire content writers, things like that. They, they don’t have a team to fill in them. It’s very time consuming. And so building authority, building personal authority, personal brand, can be incredibly slow. So I’m just wondering about that part, like, is there anything that you do to accelerate the authority?


Elizabeth Harr  41:19

Yeah, absolutely. So one kind of secret, if you will, is to repurpose content. And what I mean by that is, you can, so as an expert, you know, over the course of four weeks, let’s say, you can write a something that people can download an executive guide, a white paper, and it could have maybe four or five chapters, one to two pages each, right, we’re not talking something enormous take a month to do that. Well, guess what, all of a sudden, you’ve got this educational piece of content that’s very valuable that people can download, you also have four to five to six independent blog articles from that one piece of content. And then from those four to five, or six pieces of blog articles, you’ve got multiple social media posts at the ready. So if you, if you think about calendar rising out the amount of time you’re going to spend on content and think in terms of how can I repurpose that is so valuable? And you know, sometimes people say, Well, I mean, is that disingenuous is somebody? What if somebody reads my guide, and then they see four blogs that are related to the same thing, that’s not how people digest content. And by the way, sometimes they find value in that someone who read an article, and that article has a link to the guide that’s related, can pass on this guide to their leadership that’s trying to make a decision. So repurposing content is such a, an effective way to be relevant, but also speed, the speed up the time with which you can create content.


Alastair McDermott  43:04

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m a big fan, like, we’re speaking right now we’re on video, a lot of people are going to be listening to the audio of this call, which is on my podcast. But we’re also recording a video, which I hope to put up on YouTube at some point, once I get an editor to come along and do the necessary work for that. But I could also take short video clips from this and put those up as well. Another thing that I do because audio when you’ve got an audio only medium, it doesn’t share very well on social media, because there’s no there’s no visual element. And so people scroll by particularly a lot of people don’t have sound turned on when they’re when they’re looking at social media. And so there’s nothing to there’s nothing to see if it’s just audio. And so you can turn that into, you can turn that into videos where you have the the captions burned in the subtitles, or you can make quote, images. So some some things that you said earlier, I’m going to make some images, some quotes from from what you said and, and turn those into images that will go on Instagram, for example.  So and that’s just what we’re doing right now. That’s just a conversation that we’re having here. And we’re creating something that I hope that the person who’s listening to this believes is of value to them. And hopefully, they’re listening 45 minutes in that it probably is. And we’re creating this by just getting on a call and having a conversation. And so you can just do things like that, you know, you can have a conversation with somebody, you can have somebody interview you if you want to. If you want to showcase your own expertise, you can have some a guest host come in and interview you and ask you questions. So there’s lots of ways to create content, I think through videos and podcasts as well, that allow you to create content very quickly. And that’s still high quality.


Elizabeth Harr  44:48

That’s, that’s true. And you know, I would say there’s one more dimension of of making things happen quickly. So let’s turn this on his head and say, What if What if you were saying, Well, I’ve got a plan To become healthier, and I’ve got a gym membership. So how can I speed up the process to getting healthier? Well, the answer would be dedicate time and don’t deviate from that protected time to go to the gym. So it’s the same thing here it is, protect time on your calendar and have the discipline to not book over that. Don’t you know, if it’s if morning is your time for social media networking, then use it, don’t do something else. Don’t walk the dog and listen to a podcast, like do that at noon.  But that discipline to just stick to your plan is everything. And then suddenly, it becomes a habit. Because habit forming is a an essential quality of a visible expert and a strong personal brand. They have that discipline habits.


Alastair McDermott  45:50

I love that. That’s fantastic. Okay, so I’m just watching the clock we got, we got to be aware of time here. So I’m going to kind of ask you a couple of questions that I ask everybody. One of those is, what’s the number one tip that you would give to somebody who wants to build their authority?


Elizabeth Harr  46:05

Study your audience, don’t do a thing, until you know what makes your audience tick. How do they learn? How do they buy in everything you do should be anchored in that.


Alastair McDermott  46:15

What, what about business mistakes or failures and a lot of people who are very successful talk about the fact that you know, they made mistakes, or they’ve had failures in their past? Is there a business mistake or failure that you’ve experienced that you can tell us about? Tell us what you learned from?


Elizabeth Harr  46:30

Yeah, just a couple. No, I think you know, as a I’m very entrepreneurially minded, as are so many people who come to your podcast. And, you know, there are some merits to that. And there are some dangers. And I always think back to this one, like, got a lot of laughs out of this. But you know, we’ve been talking a lot today about staying in your lane, specializing and staying in your lane. And there was a point in time early on in my career, and I was, you know, kind of in this lane over here as an expert in growth. And it was for a professional services firm. And I wasn’t the owner at the time. And one day, the owners came to me and said, Hey, Liz, you’re such a good growth expert. We’ve got this investment over here and a totally different industry. How about you help us run that? And I’m like, great. I love growth. I can do it. Well, it was a colossal failure. It was not in my lane. It had they had invested in a car dealership, by the way, I didn’t even know like, what the make of the car. I don’t know anything about cars. But I thought, I know growth. I can do this. I’m such a disciplined person. I’m smart, I can figure it out. And I couldn’t. So just really is such a valuable lesson to me about having the courage to stay in your lane and say no, when going out of your lane doesn’t make sense.


Alastair McDermott  47:52

That’s fascinating. Really interesting one. Yeah. And yeah, like that’s, that’s a sea change of the vertical as well. Yeah, really fascinating. Okay, I’m just watching the clock. So I want to let you go. Is there a business book or resource that’s been important for you, or that you would recommend?


Elizabeth Harr  48:11

You know, I, I really like to talk to experts more than read certain books, I just find that with today’s rapidly changing marketplace, it’s so valuable, I’d rather have a conversation with someone like you than read a book. But if I did read a book, you know, I don’t, I don’t like a lot of the theory stuff, because I think it can get old. But there’s a book out and it’s a little bit old at this point is called “Understanding Michael Porter”. And it’s nice because it’s sort of like a composite of all the good thinking he’s done about how to grow companies and how to stay competitive, and how to grow your brand, really. So I that’s one that I have dog eared over time and kind of go back to when I want to think about good solid growth strategy.


Alastair McDermott  48:59

Awesome. And that is “Understanding Michael Porter” by Joan Magretta. I’ll stick that in the show notes. Cool.


Elizabeth Harr  49:05



Alastair McDermott  49:05

Interesting. And then what about fiction? Do you read fiction?


Elizabeth Harr  49:08

Well, I’ve got a 10 year old at home. And so lately, we’ve been reading anime. If that quality. I don’t get to read. I don’t really get to read it much for myself. You know, between everything else, so…


Alastair McDermott  49:21

Yeah. Okay, cool. Well, that’ll do. That’s the first time I’ve had an anime mentioned on the show.


Elizabeth Harr  49:26

Saying I like it. Not saying I like it, but awesome.


Alastair McDermott  49:29

Well, Elizabeth Harr, thank you so much for coming on and chatting with me today. I really appreciate it.


Elizabeth Harr  49:34

It was so excellent to talk with you. Thanks so much.


Alastair McDermott  49:40

Thanks for listening. If you gained any insights or tips from this episode, please share it with somebody. It might just be the thing to help someone in your network. If you share the shownotes link. It’ll include the podcast player and all the other information from today’s episode.


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