Research Your Personal Brand's Target Audience
Spend some time identifying your target audience for your personal brand. Information is power, and a well-researched target list will give you the confidence to move forward in reaching out to the people who need to know about you.
If you’ve identified your target audience, you should have an idea of the kinds of companies you’re interested in and perhaps people you would like to meet. How do you find these targets? Accomplishing that step is much easier with the Internet.
However, because you have access to so much information, it can be overwhelming, so it’s best to start with a plan.
Search for information online
Your goal with an online search is to gather information that you can use not only to build a profile of your target audience wish list but also to help you learn how you will connect with them. You’re not looking for job openings here; you’re looking at criteria that match your target audience profile.
Start with a simple Google search where you put in the keywords that you’ve identified as important to you about your target audience. In addition, try these online searches:
Conduct a LinkedIn search of people, companies, or answers in the query box of LinkedIn.
A site with loads of resources is job-hunt.
Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Great Places to Work in America is at Great Places To Work.
Find your city’s business journal site at The Business Journals.
Go to specific company websites to search for their annual reports, which can be chock full of great information.
Subscription business databases like Hoover’s and Dun & Bradstreet are often available at your local library or at a business college.
A good business resource site is Vault.
Building your target audience list is a research project; get organized about how you want to approach it. Make a list, develop a spreadsheet, set up files, and use whatever organizational system that you need to make the best use of the information you find. Some people find this step to be boring, but it’s crucial to help you build a solid brand, not one just conceived in your head.
Go straight to the source (if possible)
One of the scariest things to do is to call someone and ask about a specific company — doing so could bring up all your fears of rejection and any insecurities you might have about talking to new people.
Always the best way to go straight to the source is through a personal introduction. Starting with your target wish list in hand, first ask friends, neighbors, and colleagues if they know anyone at XYZ company or — more specifically — your key contact at that company.
You can do your asking online via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, as well as in personal conversations.
If you find someone who has the information you need, ask whether she could introduce you to that contact. If that person is willing to do so, you greatly strengthen your odds of having a conversation with your target contact.
You may have luck locating your target audience through your local Book of Lists — an annual publication by The Business Journals noting the top businesses in your geographic area. You can also attend professional meetings, community events, award banquets, and company open houses. The more visible you are at these type of events, the more you will look like you belong with this target audience.
Attend conferences and trade shows
One great way to learn about a target audience is to attend a professional conference or trade show. Here you get to see how people within a profession act around each other. Vendors are always eager to talk to anyone who stops by their booth.
Some of the best informal networking takes place at a conference because people aren’t at work, are generally open to socializing, and have name badges to help with introductions.
Conferences and trade shows have the most cutting-edge information being presented by speakers and at the break-out sessions, as well as at exhibitor booths. Often, the best information you learn will be during a conversation around the breakfast table or while waiting in line.
If you have the opportunity to attend one of these events as part of your research into target markets, grab a pocket full of business cards and take advantage of every opportunity to learn and meet members of your target audience.