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Sarah Lloyd, CEO, ISPR

Sarah Lloyd, the CEO of ISPR

Firstly, many people fear the words 'personal brand' as it means going public with your thoughts. I want to know if you have always found it easy to 'put yourself out there'?

I'll be completely honest, the hardest thing I found as a business owner when I began my own PR agency was putting myself out there. I had to reframe it, so it didn't feel daunting or overwhelming. Connecting with likeminded individuals became my approach, and if they decided to invest in my services that was a bonus! I have always found it easier use PR as a tool to put myself out there over marketing myself however. My career in PR is probably a lot to do that. To my mind PR is when someone else says positive things about you, your product or service. I've always found that easier to swallow, over telling everyone I am great at what I do (essentially marketing). I also love to cheerlead other business owners, so promoting others services also comes very easy for me and thats another way I have forged connection. What I can say the more I have 'out myself out there" the more shape my message has gotten and the easier it is.

When it comes to building an authentic personal brand, what advice would you give professionals starting out?

My biggest piece of advice is to always speak your truth, and stay in integrity. One thing that the COVID years has shown us is consumers are more discerning than ever. They are seeking truthful and real brands to connect with. They can see through the manipulation techniques, they are looking for realness - but not to the point where you are airing your dirty laundry. Having a clear boundary on what you don't wish to share is also as important as determining what you do wish to share. People buy people - so storytelling is a great way to connect with potential customers. In addition, understanding whom it is you are here to serve is important. Understanding your target audience(s) means you can tailor your message and stories to suit the differing type of consumers you want to reach.

Do you think personal branding and reputation go hand in hand, and what can people do to maintain a positive reputation while brand-building?

I do. And i echo the point I made earlier. It is all about speaking your truth and staying in your integrity. If you do that you cannot go far wrong. In addition, it can go a little deeper than that. Being very clear on what stories you do and don't wish to share. If you did have any skeletons in your closet, I would highly recommend you make peace with them. Think worst case scenario. Then imagine it as a news headline. If that feels uncomfortable or it is potentially upsetting to you then don't go there until you are ready - you might never be ready and thats ok. Also know that it is perfectly acceptable to decline any opportunities that don't feel in alignment or that could go south.

Can you share a success story of how you or someone you follow used their personal brand to build business or career?

I still think that Russell Brand is a great example of successfully turning his personal brand around. He has successfully navigated a lot of negative behaviors and now is very publicly committed to sharing from a place of truth. Humans by their very nature are not perfect and he accepts his imperfections and embraces new practices to further stretch himself. He has come a long way...

Which platforms do you find most effective for establishing thought leadership and growing professional presence?

I have personally found a mixture of platforms is the best approach for establishing thought leadership and growing a professional presence. This mixture differs according to the client and their needs. Personally I use a mixture of publicity - so online and trade publications; instagram is a great tool to share information visually, Linked In to share more business related content and facebook to grow and maintain communities.

How do you ensure your personal brand stays true to who you are and your evolving goals?

I check in with what I am sharing every three months. I find as a small business I can be more flexible and move with trends if I revisit regularly.

What are some practical strategies or tactics professionals can use to expand their network and build meaningful connections?

Attending a combination of online and in-person events is a great way to build connection. The online space became the only way of forging connection for a few years, so I am definitely seeing a surge of people wanting to attend trainings, events, festivals and meetings in person. And nothing actually beats reaching out and offering to meet with people for a coffee! In addition a great way to expand your network in an online space would be to comment, like and share posts from likeminded individuals on social networks. Showing up in community groups on facebook and LinkedIn, Clubhouse and even Twitter in some cases can also be good spaces to converse with other business owners.

Along your personal branding journey, have you encountered any common obstacles that readers of this interview should be aware of?

The most common obstacles I have come across often go hand in hand. I often find that after 3 months of showing up and promoting themselves, clients hit a wall. The wall is two fold. First up, is imposter syndrome. You can be merrily showing up and feeling good and then something or someone will make you second guess yourself. This then leads to freeze or flight mode. So activity can grind to a halt; when actually you are likely hitting the point you need to push through. Second, is impatience. In today's society things happen so much faster. We can access everything at a touch of a button so we expect everything to work at this pace. What I have witnessed (I include myself in this) is we show up for three months and then wonder why nothing appears to be working. And then we stop showing up. What I have also seen is where online business owners sell the dream... I made 6-figures overnight. My course sold out in 24 hours. What often isn't shared is the 5 year journey that business owner took to build and nurture their connections and communities to enable them to do that. Bottom line. Consistency is key. And I don't mean daily posting on socials - that leads to overwhelm and dislike for your business. I mean schedule in content; put time in your diary each month to network and promote yourself. And if you hit the wall try, step back and try to observe what it is that is that threw you out.

Imagine you have a time machine that can transport you to the future. What impact do you envision your personal brand having on the world?

I would hope that my personal brand would be established enough for others to welcome and have me share my wisdom with the new generations of business owners who want to share their stories on their terms, with out selling their soul!

Close your eyes and imagine you're a bestselling author. What captivating book would you write to share your personal brand journey and insights?

I have published two books. My first book published back in 2019 was called Connecting the Dots - I feel it was a little ahead of its time. But I offered guidance on how to share your story on your terms. My second book, Wake Up Mother, really brought to life the power of stories. A collaboration of 'Mothers" the book features stories of women who have birthed projects, children and nurtured other women. Both books offer insight into whom I am, at differing parts of my personal and brand journey! My first book Connecting the Dots played a big part in determining how I wanted to position myself and my brand.

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us here! Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?

@sarahlloyd_ispr on instagram


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