Shani Taylor is a sales mentor and strategist and author of From Ignored to Adored, a book about attracting ideal clients without being salesy. Shani believes entrepreneurs and business owners should ditch the high-pressure sales tactics and focus on building lasting connections with people instead. As well as being a sales mentor, Shani is an expert on money mindset, building personal brands and leadership. A single mum living in Australia, Shani built her own seven-figure business in just three years and now helps others achieve their own financial freedom and success while having the time of their lives.
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 didn’t always find it easy to put myself out there. In fact, I spent a long time hiding, literally hiding. So, I was a victim of a quite traumatic attack in 2011 leaving me with severe PTSD. My life was actually threatened at that time and the individual who attacked me had said that if I escaped during that attack he would come and find me and kill me and my son. So, I was actually quite scared to put myself out there for many years; I was literally hiding. I didn’t have any identifying details on social media, I changed my last name and I didn’t have my name on social media because I was scared. So, no, it’s not always been easy to put myself out there.
Even if you’re not like me, even if you weren’t personally attacked, even if you didn’t actually go into hiding, regardless of the scenario, people are scared to build a personal brand because it does mean going public with their thoughts and as soon as you go public with your thoughts, you open yourself up to criticism and you open yourself up to judgement but the thing that people need to realise, is that no matter what you do in this world, you are always going to be criticised and judged and if you want to have a successful business, it’s not necessarily about building your capacity to be successful and have all of the things, the good things that come with the success, no, if you truly want to be a success and have an incredibly unique and connecting personal brand, you actually have to expand your capacity to hold the fear, to hold the criticism and to hold the judgement that naturally comes when you share your opinion in the world in any way; you can’t escape that but what you can do is you can shift your relationship with that fear and how you deal with that criticism and that is what puts you in control and builds an incredible personal brand that touches countless lives.
When it comes to building an authentic personal brand, what advice would you give professionals starting out?
When starting out, if you are genuinely committed to building an authentic personal brand, the number one thing that you absolutely have to remember is you are your own Guru. There are so many business owners, coaches and consultants starting their business and without realising it, they’re really being led by the opinions and the branding of the people that they admire and yes, while mentorship is important, if you have minimised your own authenticity and inadvertently taken on strong opinions from the mentors or the gurus that you follow, then what happens is your message, whatever that is, that you go to share, ends up falling on deaf ears because people aren’t energetically drawn to it because it hasn’t been authentic from you. YOU are your own Guru. So, get really clear on what your message is and how you want to share that message. I would quieten the noise from the outside world and I would start to listen to my own inner authority and share that from my heart, that’s what’s going to capture your audience. Your authenticity has to shine through or you drown in the sea of sameness out there in the world.
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 don’t know that focusing on maintaining a positive reputation is necessarily the thing that we should be talking about here. You will always have a positive reputation in the eyes of the people that resonate with who you are and what your message is. Equally, you’re going to have a negative reputation with the pockets of people that do not resonate with what you’ve got to say and who you are and your energy. In fact, your personal brand’s responsibilities are two-fold. It is not just there to attract your ideal soul-aligned clients, buyers or customers, it is also there to repel away the incompatible clients and customers and ensure that you repel people that you don’t want to work with. As long as you are sharing authentically, you are going to have to deal with the fact that not everybody is going to like you and that is the point. Focus on your people, you’re not here for EVERYONE.
Can you share a success story of how you or someone you follow used their personal brand to build business or career?
I have single-handedly started from absolute ground zero. I built my business, which is now a seven-figure business, with no audience on social media other than a few hundred friends which I had from school (most of whom were bullies) and I built my business with no audience, no idea how to create content and when starting out, I also didn’t have a strong awareness of exactly what I was here for and meant to do, I just knew I had to START. What I did do was, I got started. I got out there and I was in conversations every single day and every single week and I continue to do that and you build your personal brand by being in the work of being who you are and building your business every single day. It’s a transformation that continues to unfold but it’s not going to unfold unless you are in the work. So many people are stuck in their thinking and trying to solve their problems through the thought process but instead you’ve got to get in there and take action. The clarity comes in the doing. In three short years I’ve been able to build a seven-figure business, starting from absolute zero and I’ve done that by really focusing on a personal brand that is unique to who I am as a human being. Everybody has a unique gift and a unique energy to bring to the world but most people fail because they get so caught up in trying to follow their Guru instead of allowing their own authenticity to shine through. The key to personal brand is found in your ability to build relationships AND the most key relationship to keep building is the one you have with yourself. When you EMBODY who you are it becomes REALLY easy to build your personal brand because you are congruent. People struggle when they stop being in relationship with themselves and their own work. The sales you’re seeking aren’t ‘out there’ in others, the sales are always first within YOU. The deeper your connection to who you are the more vibrant your personal brand naturally shines and people take notice of THAT and want to work with you and buy from you.
Which platforms do you find most effective for establishing thought leadership and growing professional presence?
You can absolutely build an effective thought leadership and growing professional presence on any platform whatsoever. Any social media platform. Any website host you want to have, any industry publication, any networking event. ANY! We’ve got to get away from looking at the ‘vehicle’ (platform) as being the indicator for our success. It doesn’t matter what the vehicle is. What matters is “who am I BEING” because you can go anywhere and you’re going to find the same or similar set of people whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or the latest THREADS. The same people are going to be on all of these platforms, looking for a shiny object. If you want to establish a strong thought leadership and continue to grow your professional presence, my advice is you pick one key platform that you want to focus on and you grow your audience from there. I’m not saying that you don’t post on other sites if that’s what you want to do but when it comes to building your presence, community, connection, personal brand and your audience, pick one platform, stick with it, do it really well and watch it amplify from there. Many people are getting distracted. They’ve got lots of fingers in lots of different pies and nothing is working. If you can’t make one platform work well for you then changing platforms or wasting energy on multiple platforms isn’t going to change your results. Your success will be found in your ability to connect, communicate & build a following because we’re dealing with humans no matter where they are. Learn how to connect with humans and you can be a success anywhere.
How do you ensure your personal brand stays true to who you are and your evolving goals?
Your number one priority always has to be the relationship you have with yourself. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster because it’s YOU with YOU. Most business owners don’t realise until they’re in business, that the work of your business and brand is actually the work of your relationship with yourself. Nobody gave us the handbook before we started, that told us you are in relationship with you when you go into business first and foremost. So, it’s going to highlight all of your beautiful strengths and great qualities that you love about yourself but it’s also going to bring to the forefront all of the things that you don’t like about yourself, that are still challenging for you as a human being. All your fears, self-doubts and judgments come to the surface daily, sometimes hourly! So, the number one thing to focus on to ensure that your personal brand always stays true to who you are is to work on your relationship with you. The more connected you are to you, the more your business and brand naturally evolves - there’s no end destination. This is actually a journey of unfolding into the relationship you have with yourself which, when prioritised, naturally vibrates outwardly and that’s what attracts more people to you.
What are some practical strategies or tactics professionals can use to expand their network and build meaningful connections?
What I see happen so often is that business owners forget that we’re dealing with humans even though we’re in business and they get all funny about connecting and communicating with people. If you find it difficult to build meaningful relationships, if you get scared to connect with people or you worry you won’t have the time to connect with people unless they are giving you something in return (like a sale) then my advice is really simple.
How do you build and maintain meaningful connections with your personal relationships whether it’s your partner, your friends or your family members?
You connect and you communicate on a regular basis. It’s the same in business. If we can start to look at other human beings as humans instead of just a sale, instead of just another dollar that we’ve got to make, if we can take out the transactional nature and just show up to be in conversation, you will naturally build meaningful connections which will actually flourish your brand and your business and your sales will be amplified. So many people are struggling because they show up only to connect if they’re there to get something because they’re in a time scarcity mindset, they’re worried that they don’t have enough time, so they fail to build meaningful connections. If you can start to just lean in and be in communication as though you would with anybody in your personal life, you are going to find that you build relationships that amplify your sales naturally.
Along your personal branding journey, have you encountered any common obstacles that readers of this interview should be aware of?
One of the biggest obstacles along with the personal brand journey, for every human being, whether they’re in business or not but certainly in the context of business, is fear and fear is simply our soul crying out for love but unfortunately as human beings we walk around most of the day operating from a place of fear. We are scared that we don’t have enough time. We are scared that we won’t have enough money. We are scared that people won’t like us. We are scared that we will be judged and so it is so important to keep working on your inner world, as much as you focus on your outer world. The deeper and the stronger your conviction is in who you are as a human being, the more control and protection you have because you can’t control what’s going on out there and what people say or do but you get to choose who you are in response to that. Remembering that every human being is operating from fear and opening your heart and bringing love to how you respond is going to make the world of difference for your own peace of mind and also your business success.
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 will bring people home to their hearts for deeply connected relationships with themselves, their loved ones, humanity and the Universe… I just happen to do this through the vehicle of business right now.
Close your eyes and imagine you're a bestselling author. What captivating book would you write to share your personal brand journey and insights?
My book is called 'From Ignored to Adored: Ignite Connection and Communication Online to Attract Your Soul Mate Clients...Without Being Salesy' - and while it is directed at coaches, consultants and business owners, it is an opportunity to really learn how to come home to your own heart and in doing so, be able to connect with the hearts of anyone in your life so you stop being ignored by others and build connections where you feel adored. The book talks deeply about human connection and human behaviour, so definitely go and get a copy. It’s a really easy read but hugely impactful for creating connected relationships in all areas of your life. You can get it here: https://www.opentograce.com.au/book/