“One thing I always tell people is show up as yourself online. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. You’ll connect effectively and create an instant impact,” says Carlii Lyon, international speaker, personal branding expert and founder of The Brand in You. Fusing workshops and one-to-one coaching, The Brand in You is about so much more than perfecting your online persona: Carlii founded it with the aim of inspiring individuals to be their own brand, find their purpose and manage their reputation in a digital world.
“A personal brand ensures that you become really intentional about how you’re showing up in every moment, and I think that’s such a powerful shift in your life to have,” Carlii says. “To come to every moment and believe that what you’re saying, doing, acting, all matters. Suddenly there’s a responsibility and accountability in that.”
Carlii is certainly no stranger to the power of personal branding – she ran her own PR consultancy for over 15 years and worked with an impressive list of clients, from one of Australia’s most successful models, Miranda Kerr, to New York Times’ bestselling authors including Loral Langemeire, Mark Victor Hansen and world-renowned economist Harry Dent. However, it wasn’t until she went on extended maternity leave that she was able to look back and realise she had never taken the time, or made the effort, to build her own personal brand.
“We need to do what we can to ensure our online self resonates and is working for us. Because when we sleep, he or she is working for us.” – Carlii Lyon
“I had a moment when I realised I’d actually had lots of opportunities to put myself out there, but I was always too scared,” says Carlii. “I felt I wasn’t good enough, hadn’t achieved enough – lots of imposter syndrome. Then I thought that maybe I could use what I know to help people in the same situation as me. I started with one-on-one sessions, then created workshops, and it took off from there.”
Fast-forward to today, and Carlii’s clients range from doctors at Oxford, CEOs, global music executives and top management consultants and she speaks to some of the world’s biggest global brands. “I’ve had clients who are incredibly successful – I’m talking mind-blowing credibility – but they don’t put themselves out there because of fear. Full stop,” she reveals.
The problem with this, whether we like it or not, is we’re living in a digital age where our online persona is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have. “In an interview with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk said that ‘our phones are not just digital devices, they’re portals to our online self’,” says Carlii. “And I think if ever there was a way to describe the reality of our life now and forevermore, it’s that. We live in this dimension, but we also exist online. We need to do what we can to ensure our online self resonates and is working for us. Because when we sleep, he or she is working for us.”
“This is a brand you’re going to be building for the rest of your life.” – Carlii Lyon
So what little improvements can you make today? “Invest in a great profile shot,” Carlii says. “I think people underestimate the power of this. Your photo needs to resonate with who you are and show your best self. It’s like when you go to a work function and you dress up as your best self; it’s the same thing.
“Also, allow your conversational tone to come through on social media. I see a lot of clients, particularly in their 30s, 40s and beyond, put a real sales spin on their material, or they just want to create this very professional persona that isn’t actually them in real life. This results in very little traction online; they’re not building any connections because they’re not allowing people to see who they really are.”
Instead, Carlii says show up for your audience and create content, conversations and ideas that represent who you are and what you stand for. “You almost have to see your online self as an extension of who you are. When I go to bed at night, my online self is still out there, networking and connecting with people. So think about what you want to represent. When someone thinks of your name, what are they going to immediately conjure up in their mind. Through your social media branding, you get to intentionally shape and manage that.”
Above all, be patient and consistent advises Carlii. “It’s really important to understand that in the beginning, you will feel like you’re not getting the traction, that you’re wasting your time, that it’s not worthwhile. But keep showing up and keep being consistent. These things really do take time. This is a brand you’re going to be building for the rest of your life. So, remember, it’s not a short-term activity, it’s a long-term mindset.”