If you haven’t considered growing your personal brand in the hospitality and restaurant industry, you are making a huge mistake. Whether you are a chef, are in culinary school or working in management in some capacity, marketing and branding, when done right, will without a doubt create more opportunities and money in your bank account. It gives you more credibility and attention. This article will be helpful for you, but afterwards, I strongly encourage you to sign up for my 10 Day Chef Brand Building Challenge
1. Produce Valuable Content: The single best way to create and strengthen a brand is by providing content that your target audience will appreciate and connect with. This gets the conversation started around you, builds credibility and shows the world what you’re about. When producing content, circle it back to you. For instance, don’t let the communication stop with their consumption. Instead, do your best to turn it into an ongoing conversation — invite people to join your ‘tribe’ on social media, subscribe to your newsletter, or email you. One by one, growing your tribe, is the best way to get your work into the right people’s hands, because if it’s good, the right people will share it with the right people, who’ll share it with the right people — the cycle feeds itself.

2. Curate Content: Most of us don’t have the time nor the resources to churn out enough content to keep our audiences regularly engaged, and this is where content curation comes into play — finding articles, videos and other types of content that your audience will find valuable, and then sharing that with them. This is a great way to provide value to your audience, plus it keeps you from always having to provide something novel and interesting. It also extends your reach when shared, for instance, share an article straight onto your Facebook or Twitter page, and as more people share, comment and include friends, the more it comes back to you. I’ve gotten hundreds and thousands of new followers using this tactic. You can also create original content based on curation – we see it on Medium all the time. For instance below, these were all ‘Top Stories’ from September (somewhere in the top 25 on Medium, but not consecutive — I photoshopped them together):

These are all curated lists, and they are all valuable, because they make the reader’s job a lot easier. In fact, notice, I just curated that list to prove my point.

3. Leverage The Tools: We’ve been gifted some pretty amazing tools to use that help us to connect with people — like-minded individuals and potential customers who might appreciate what we have to say. Sure, you can use the, ‘build it and they will come’, model, which works, and using social media ad targeting to discover new audiences can be huge, but on top of that is digging and creating the grassroots conversation with people by discovering them in places like places like LinkedIn, Twitter search, Instagram, Facebook, and yes, of course Medium (tags, etc.), among others. BUT, connect with people, not with intentions of making a sale, or even hoping to persuade to check out your work, but rather, in order to lay the groundwork for a relationship. Then, when the time is right, they’ll come across your work organically, or if they don’t, you can ‘ask’ with confidence, because you’ve created a relationship, not just a sales transaction. versus one that is predicated on a sales pitch. The only way to get to this place though, is to put in the time and the effort, and to actually care — not just pretend.


4. Network: Yes, through the various online tools mentioned above, but far greater than that, is networking face-to-face, in a very human way. Yes, it’s easier to tweet back and forth or chat over email, but nothing replaces connecting with someone face-to-face — a hand shake, looking someone in the eye. Find industry events and other ways that allow you to connect with individuals and build actual relationships with like-minded individuals. If you’re asking yourself, ‘how do I actually get some face-time with this individual who can potentially help me?’ — keep reading, that’s next.5. Help Others Get What They Want: It seems that on our ‘way up’, we are able to benefit far more from those ‘above’ us, versus the other way around. It feels like we need them a lot more than they need us, which might be true, but ask yourself, ‘what can I do to help them first?’. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “you can have everything you want in life, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

Great examples of this are through podcasts, helping with events/charities of which they are a part, by becoming part of an author’ book launch team, or by offering to promote an up and coming band’s concert coming up in your home town. Once you put in the gesture of good faith and establish a relationship, you can then learn how to be of service to them, and then leverage that relationship to your advantage — if you’re good, people might even associate you with them, bringing more attention to yourself and what you’re about.

6. Become a Connector: There is much to be said for someone who connects people with what they are looking for. This is why staffing companies exist, because an organization finds value in hiring another entity or person who they’ve grown to trust, who can then connect them with someone they need. This is what brokers do, but it’s also what online sites like OpenTable do, by connecting diners with restaurants, or what Kayak does by connecting travelers with cheap flights. Value is created, when a relationship forms between two entities that are mutually benefitted. Sometimes a transaction or transfer of money is involved, and other times it’s much more human, which is what I’m really talking about here. A great way to build one’s credibility, within their niche and the marketplace, is to be this person — the connector. Maybe you know the exact candidate for a friend’s company to hire. Or you have a friend with a blog who needs good writers, and you happen to know a great writer who can fill that void. Or, you know a local TV producer who needs interesting guests for an upcoming segment, and you have the perfect person to add to the list. The number of examples goes on forever, however, the lesson always remains the same — as a connector, you create value for two different entities through bringing them together. As people see the value you create, trust is built, as is your personal brand equity with people. This provides you with future leverage in the relationship, so that the next time this person asks for a favor, and you’re able to deliver on it, you’ve put yourself in a position where you can essentially guilt them into returning the favor.

7. Be the Most Unique Version of Yourself: What a cliché, but it’s true — figure out how you can best leverage who you are, your strengths and your story, in order to create content or an angle that’ll resonate with your ideal audience. This invites them to be a part of who you are and what you have to offer the world. So instead of doing just what the other guys do, but you’re able to offer it just a little cheaper, discover what it is that makes you stand out – your product, your work, your humanity. We are sick of seeing the same exact thing over and over again. Find what it is that will make people want to connect with you and your perspective and stick to your guns. Ride that to the bank, and invite the world to come along for the ride.

By now, you’ve probably discovered that there aren’t any real hacks, nor any shortcuts. In fact if you go back through, you’ll see that it’s just the opposite- it’s all about suiting up, and buckling up for the long haul, by creating value for people upfront.

Just ask yourself:
What kind of value am I bringing to the marketplace? It’s not about you – it’s about what you bring to the table that the world needs more of — do more of that, and bring it to the world in a way in which only you know how to do.

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