Consider this…
You have a personal brand. Manage it, and create a draw for your services. Ignore it, and be commoditized. Jonathan Fitzgarrald provides practical tools for developing and managing a strong, personal brand. Read more...

In a forgotten storeroom tucked behind years of old boxes and office furniture lies a hole-ridden map of the United States. In pursuit of his next story, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman tosses a dart at a map and with cameraman in tow travels to the location where the dart lands. Upon his arrival, Hartman locates a phonebook, chooses a random name from the directory, and interviews the person—not knowing ahead of time anything about them. Albeit random and unpredictable, it is Hartman’s way of demonstrating that everybody has a story.

We are no different than any of Hartman’s unsuspecting participants. We too have a story that makes us unique, relatable, and memorable. It includes aspects of our background, experiences, passions, preferences, struggles, hobbies, life lessons and relationships. The byproduct of which defines us. It’s our reputation; our personal brand.

Are you leveraging your story to make a name for yourself, to better connect with clients, and to stay top-of-mind with prospects and referral sources?

Consider the following when shaping your story.

Utilize personal elements. At a recent speaking engagement, I happened to mention that one of my favorite movies is My Cousin Vinny, a 1992 comedy starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. At the end of my remarks, Mike, an audience member, approached me. He referenced and we laughed about one of the scenes from the movie. Knowing something personal about me—a movie preference—provided Mike with an icebreaker that eventually led us to talking about business. During the brief exchange, I learned that Mike is a CPA and business manager with notable Entertainment-industry clients. My law firm’s reputation within Entertainment gave us reason to schedule a follow-up meeting to see how we may be able to work together.

Without fail, elevator pitches and introductions are commonly void of any trace of personality or the mention of interests outside of business. Those looking to hire or refer work need only to relate to one aspect of your story in order to take the relationship to the next level. Don’t feel as though that initial element has to be business related. As with Mike, it’s often a personal, common interest that provides the spark for a business relationship.

Find your niche. For purposes of marketing yourself, are you a “real estate attorney” or a “real estate attorney who specializes in eminent domain matters?” An “insurance broker” or an “insurance broker with a specialty in professional liability?” A “financial planner” or a “financial planner for alternative lifestyle couples and families?”

By specializing, you carve out a niche for yourself and become the “go to” professional for all things related to your area of expertise. Marketing a niche also makes you more memorable among those who are capable of referring you new business.

This post is the first of a three-part series on how to find, articulate, and share your personal brand.  Tune in next time to learn how to condense your story into 140 characters.  


7 Responses to Need Story, Will Travel.

  • One of my mentors used to say: “The narrower the niche, the broader the appeal”. This ties in to what you talk about with being specific. I always tell my networking friends: “You must be specific to be terrific”. Doing so will open up doors you would have been unable to open yourself.
    As usual, another tremendous post Jonathan!

    Shawn McCarthy

  • Heidi Howard says:

    Hi Juanito!

    As you know, after writing an accessories column for ELIZA magazine for a few years, you suggested I begin a fashion blog. You said I had a good “voice” and I wanted to use it. But the idea of covering fashion felt overwhelming. First, most bloggers write about trends. I don’t live and die by trends so that approach to reporting/writing didn’t interest me. Second, I don’t have the time as a mom to devote to following every trend even if I want to know and write about them.

    One day I began thinking about my personal taste in fashion and I noted that though my taste is broad, I’d recently whittled my wardrobe into a collection that is edgy and sophisticated and that the common denominator in my closet is not one designer name or silhouette, it’s color. Black!

    So, I had my niche! 99% of what I write about is black-colored fashion. I’m not aware of any other bloggers who use color as their angle. So, not only does my subject matter set me apart from the crowd, it makes my work focused and dynamic.

    I have tremendous freedom in my work by being focused! I take pictures of black fashion on the streets and I use magazine photographs new and old that feature fabulous black designs. So as long as what I find is black AND fabulous, it’s material! If it is trendy or a celeb is wearing it, bonus! But I only set out to write about what is truly the most classic, becoming, and fashionable color ever.


  • Dennis McCue says:

    This is very timely for me. I am in the process of reworking my website and this will help me to incorporate more of my “personal story” in the biography section. This was was something I was more reluctant to do earlier in my career, but I completely understand that by telling the story, it will help prospective clients to understand the real value that I — as a person, not just a consultant — bring to them. I sincerely appreciate your contribution.

  • Dale Withers says:


    This strategy is always an excellent way to personalize your brand. Many times the thing people remember about meeting you is that oblique reference to one of your personal passions. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.


  • How’s this? I sat next to Marisa Tomei recently at an Academy function. If I’d heard your story, I’d have immediately thought of you. Never know how those things are going to work, right? You’re right – don’t look for a result, just a connection.

  • Nancy Fox says:

    So agree with you Jonathan.
    First, My Cousin Vinny is one of my favorite movies too – but I digress..
    Wanted to respond re: finding your niche recommendation. I continually advise this to clients and it is often met with resistance. People fear limiting their opportunities. However, it is so much easier to focus and go narrow and deep than shallow and wide. The riches really are in the niches.

    Thanks for a great post, as always, Jonathan.