How do you want to tell your story?
With the advent of social media, telling your story and reinventing yourself the way you want to be seen has never been easier. However, just because you can now tell your story in a million different ways now doesn’t mean that you should – especially if you are trying to build your business.
Publishing a story online has never been more accessible to the “average Joe,” but knowing how to represent yourself appropriately and effectively is important. Understanding the power of personal branding is vital to building a successful business.
But how do you learn how to do this?
The easiest way is to enroll in an online course like Do Things, Tell People: The Power of Personal Branding. This is a course taught by an award-winning entrepreneur and marketer named Hamza Khan on the eLearning platform Skillshare.
I took the course to gain some insight – here are my thoughts.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding sounds complicated – and to be honest, a bit robotic – but really, your personal brand is just the way that you promote yourself. Your personal brand represents a unique combination of experience, personality, and skills that you bring to the table. It is how you tell your story.
In your personal brand, you’ll find your attitudes, words, behavior, and conduct reflected back at you. You can use your personal brand to tell a story but also to help differentiate yourself from other people. When done correctly, you can connect your personal brand back to your business in a way that simply is not possible with traditional corporate branding.
Now, you can ignore your personal brand and allow it to develop on its own. Truth be told, that’s a strategy that has worked well for many businesses and many people. However, if you’d like some autonomy over how the media portrays you and how people see you, you will want to cultivate your brand so that it takes exactly the form you need it to.
What Kinds of Content Does the Course Cover?
In the Do Things, Tell People course, you will learn how to create a strong online presence that leverages your personal brand so you can succeed in a modern-day economy. It doesn’t matter whether you are a burgeoning entrepreneur or a seasoned professional – having a strong and prominent personal brand is vital for helping you succeed in today’s modern economy and business environment.
Having a strong presence can help you create demand for your services or products, encourage them to take action, and drive outcomes that will help you rise to the top of the pack in our fast-paced world.
This class will teach you how to build the core elements of your personal brand and how to maintain a strong and strategic online presence. You’ll also learn how to promote yourself and your business, to network effectively, and to promote yourself – without shame or gimmicks, for that matter.
The class is broken down into several core modules, each of which is less than six or seven minutes long. It’s easy to move quickly through the material to become a master at creating your own personal brand. Here’s what you’ll cover.
The introduction to this course is brief, but I wouldn’t recommend that you skip it. It will acquaint you with the instructor’s unique style of teaching and also let you know exactly what you will cover in the course.
Khan explains that the class is helpful for people at all stages of the game, including those who have both a well-established presence as well as those looking to build a new personal brand online.
The Great Exhilarator
In the next course module, Khan launches into a more detailed explanation of what he hopes students will get out of the course. Not only will you learn how to build the main elements of your personal brand as well as how to build and maintain that presence online, but you’ll also learn how to strategically promote your brand, how to network online, and how to promote yourself without any kind of hesitation.
Khan explains that the class is broken up into three core parts – one strategy, three phases, and nine actions. He goes on to explain how a powerful brand narrative can help build a business and to tell an even more story, using the musician Drake as an example.
Telling Stories is Human
Khan explains in this module that the best telling of your story should come directly from you. If you can tell your own story and you are doing it well, you obviously know yourself and won’t have trouble building an online presence – however, if you’re taking this class, that’s probably not the case.
Because we seek to understand other people, when we meet new people in the 21st century age of technology, our automatic response now is to look them up online. This can go one of two ways. As we search, we fill in the blanks with the information that we find (or with the information that we don’t find). If you aren’t doing a good job at telling your story online, you may need to revamp your approach so that you can craft the story you want other people to find.
Action 1: Identify Your Brand Perception
After you learn the basics of personal branding in the first chunk of the course, you’ll go on to learn the specific actions you should take to go about building a stronger personal brand.
The first thing you need to do is to define your personal brand. To do this, you’ll need to look inward, reach deep, and figure out the “essence” of your brand. Who are you? What is different about you and what you are trying to sell? You will want to think not only about how you see yourself and how you want to be seen, but also about the activities your brand engages in and the interactions it has with others.
Khan gives some pretty solid real-life examples that you can turn to as you develop your personal brand. Granted, these are corporate brands – like Nike, Disney, and Coca Cola – but the main idea and basic concepts remain the same.
Action 2: Discover Your Reason for Being
In the next action module, you’ll figure out your reason for being. Khan references the Ikigai concept, which means quite literally “reason for being.” This is your reason for getting out of bed each morning, your driving force. To figure out your reason for being, you should figure out what you love, what you are emotionally connected to, what the world needs, and what you are passionate about.
One thing you can do to help you figure out your reason for being, though it’s dark, is to write your own eulogy. This will help you figure out your mission, values, vision, purpose, and principles. Khan walks you through some tips to do this in the module.
Action 3: Articulate Your Value Proposition
Khan encourages students to articulate their value proposition in eight words or less in this next phase. He puts the word limit on students to help force creativity. By forcing yourself to be concise, you’ll cut out all the background nice and you can then build your brand outward.
Action 4: Select Your Channel Mix
Your next step in this course is to learn how you can channel the images that you’ve developed in the previous modules. A common misconception people have is that in order to build their personal brands, they have to be on every social media platform imaginable.
This is a mistake for several reasons. Not only can it be draining, causing you to spend a ton of time on platforms that aren’t giving you the results you want, but it can be ineffective as you’re shooting around blindly at an unclear target. Choose a few profiles or platforms (Khan recommends LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in addition to a personal website). He gives more detailed and personalized recommendations based on various lines of work.
Action 5: Complete Your Social Profiles
After learning what channel mixes might be helpful to you both personally and professionally, Khan moves on to teaching you how to complete your social profiles to best leverage your brand. He walks through all the core elements your profiles should have, such as a clear, easy to remember handle, account anime, and bio. You also need a clear, unchanging profile picture and then you can start building valuable content.
He goes into detail about what kinds of content are best for your social profiles. Usually, you need things like a call to action, short links, and visuals. Hashtags can be helpful too.
Action 6: Create a Personal Website
A website is essential for all entrepreneurs regardless of which social profiles they choose to leverage. You need to have a convenient online destination that you can use to showcase your work and sell yourself as a brand. Khan walks students through a few simple steps to build their personal websites, none of which are complicated or require any kind of coding or web design experience.
Action 7: Practice Social Listening
The next step in Khan’s plan is to practice social listening. You’ll need to develop influence by figuring out what people are talking about. Follow other influencers and industry leaders in your lien of work to figure out what’s current. You might want to look at publications, news stories, personal accounts, and other social media accounts to figure out what sorts of things you should be doing.
Action 8: Engage Meaningfully
Once you’ve spent some time listening, you can begin to engage. Khan recommends doing a few different things to gain an engagement, such as developing useful content, developing amusing content, developing informational content, developing inspiring content, and developing critical content. Ideally, you should include content of all types, leveraging all of them to build your brand.
Action 9: Build Thought Leadership
Khan recommends following all the tips above as you build your personal brand – but not to be too hasty as you do so. She recommends giving the plan at least 90 days to see if it works. You’ll want to repeat the steps in your plan every so often to help maintain a captive audience.
Do Things, Tell People.
This last main module of the course serves as a wrap-up of everything Khan already discussed. He will recap everything you learned in the course and he even returns to the Drake analogy – just in case you missed it!
The conclusion to this class isn’t as long as many of the ones I’ve sat through for other classes, and honestly, it’s probably one you could skip if you were feeling crunched for time. Khan gives a few action steps you can take, but most of them have to do with leaving a review and reaching out to other students to build your network.
The Course & The Instructor
This class is taught on the Skillshare platform by Hamza Khan, an entrepreneur and marketer. It has been taken by more than 10,950 students and is designed for learners of all levels.
Khan is the Managing Director of Student Life Network, which is Canada’s most comprehensive resource for helping and empowering millions of students to help meet their goals.
He is also the cofounder of Splash Effect, a marketing and creative agency, and SkillsCamp, a soft skills training company.
Not only that, but Hamza is a writer, having penned the Amazon bestselling book “The Burnout Gamble.” He regularly delivers TED talks, keynote speeches, and workshops all around the classroom and is a faculty member at Ryerson University and Seneca College.
The Skillshare Platform
Skillshare is an easy to use platform that is just one of several new online course delivery websites available today.
I’ve taken classes with many other platforms, including Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, and while Skillshare probably is not my favorite, it leaves very little to be desired, too.
There are really only two downfalls to Skillshare, in my opinion. The first is that content is somewhat limited if you don’t spring for a full premium membership. You have to pay $99 in order to access certain sections of courses ad-free (as well as entire sections of some classes) and as someone who only takes occasional online classes, that annual fee just isn’t worth it to me. I’d rather pay per class, which is something you can do on other platforms like Udemy.
I also feel as though there is no uniformity in instruction among the different teachers. Some teachers offer resources, some don’t, some interact with their students via the discussion boards, and some don’t. It’s just not quite as consistent as I’d like it to be.
That said, Skillshare offers many benefits, too. This platform is one of the best to search if you are looking for a class in the creativity, lifestyle, or business niches, and you’ll find thousands of classes to help satiate your desire for education.
Related: Skillshare Review
Major Benefits of Taking This Course
Access to Projects Feature
If you’re willing to pay for a premium Skillshare subscription, you can access the project’s features on the platform. Khan encourages students to complete two components for their projects. One is a personal website that you can build on About. Me, complete with imagery, a short biography, and a clear call-to-action. You are also invited to create two to three different social media profiles to direct people to your website.
The projects for this course aren’t super time-consuming, so if you have a premium account, I recommend that you take the time to complete them. They will allow you to network with other students as you begin to build your personal brand.
Neat Discussion Board
Most Skillshare classes, including this one, also come with discussion boards. The discussion boards are particularly valuable as you begin researching whether the course is one you want to take. It will give you a good idea of what other students think as well as some common pitfalls they run into.
All of the comments in the discussion were helpful and included positive feedback. It was great to see students interacting with each other as well as to see that many of the comments were as recent as a few weeks ago.
Can Be Taken At Your Own Pace
Although this course is relatively fast-paced, it is set up in a way that makes it easy to repeat various sections as needed or to return to content that you may have just missed. Each module is very short – less than seven minutes – and clearly organized so that it’s easy to find information.
All in all, the class only lasts just over half an hour – 37 minutes, to be precise. You’ll find yourself flying through the content, but if you’d rather go slow and pace yourself, you could always just complete one quick module at a time, too.
Came With a Transcript
Another thing I appreciated about the class was that it came with a helpful transcript at the bottom of the modules. You could follow along with what Khan was saying by reading the transcription or you could print it out and use it later as a reference guide upon completing the course.
For the most part, the quality of the transcription was good – there were very few errors and it was easy to understand. As a visual learner, this was extremely helpful to me.
Great for Beginners and Experts Alike
Whether you already have an existing online presence or you are looking to build one from scratch, this course is an excellent fit for you. You don’t have to know much about social media in order to get started, as Khan will walk you through most of the basics.
If you like Hamza’s teaching style and want to hear more, you, unfortunately, will have to sign up for one of his in-person workshops or follow his social media accounts – this class is the only one that he teaches on Skillshare.
There are plenty of other related courses that you can pursue if you’re interested in learning more about personal branding, though. Some of the top recommended courses on Skillshare include:
- Personal Branding MasterClass; Build a Brand Called You
- Personal Branding & Marketing: Secrets to Entrepreneurship, Networking, and Social Media Marketing
- CRUSH YouTube Branding: Make a FREE Professional Channel Header
- Instagram and Personal Branding: Establishing a Strong and Authentic Personal Brand on Instagram
Complaints About the Course
I honestly didn’t have very many complaints about the course. Most of the comments in the discussion and review section were positive, too, despite the fact that many students reported that they were skeptical about the quality of the class upon signing up.
Some individuals didn’t like that the class was so fast-paced, but this was a feature I appreciated. I felt like I flew through the modules but still managed to get a great deal of content and information out of them.
Some users said that Khan spoke a bit too fast for their liking, but again, this was not something I minded – since there is a transcript that can be downloaded later on, it didn’t feel like a detriment to my learning.
The only other complaint was about the lack of additional resources to accompany the training itself. It would have been nice to see PDFs or worksheets that you could use as you build your personal brand.
Who is the Do Things, Tell People: The Power of Personal Branding Course on Skillshare Best For?
This class is a great fit for any entrepreneur with a desire to build his or her personal brand. It doesn’t matter what stage of the game you might be at – the class offers an excellent way to leverage social media and your online presence to help sell your story, your products, and/or your services. I would recommend this course to just about anybody with a story to tell.
Overall Rating of the Course
Instructor Expertise: 4
Additional Course Resources: 2
Course Quality & Accessibility: 3
Career Value: 5
Overall Rating: 3.5