How to grow your personal brand from scratch in 2020, based on lessons i've learned and techniques I've proven to work

Spencer X Smith red logo

Personal Branding for Financial Services Professionals

Spencer X Smith speaking at the NYSE

I had the unbelievably awesome opportunity to speak at the New York Stock Exchange on September 19, 2017.

Get this guide as a PDF with a step-by-step checklist

Hi, I'm Spencer X Smith. Until January of 2015, I had zero personal brand. I didn't produce content, I wasn't active on social media, and the only public speaking I did was for my job (I was a 401(k) specialist for two of the nation's largest recordkeepers).

Although I've been working on my personal brand since 2015, you can accomplish the same things in much less time. Using these simple strategies, you can avoid wasting time like I did, and simply do what works.

What will I share with you here? How you can shortcut your own personal branding objectives. These things really work, because I've actually done them.

p.s. you are the hero of your story. Learn from what I've done first, and make this your own

Share your personal branding goals

September 16, 2015

I'm speaking at Social Media Breakfast - Madison, and share with the crowd that I plan on being featured in Forbes. No idea how I'd do it...just declared it as a goal and shared it publicly.

Why is this important?

When you share a goal publicly, you'll get positive social pressure.

People would ask me after that speech in September, "How's the Forbes thing going?" And I'd reply, "Oh yeah! I did say that, didn't I?"

Decide what you want, write it down, and tell people (or a room full of people, if you choose) what you plan on accomplishing.

Decide what you want, write it down, and tell people what you plan on accomplishing. #Goals

Click to Tweet

The "Forbes Thing" happened...twice.

Forbes article #1 - How To Achieve Great PR When Your Product Is A Service

Forbes article #2 - Leveraging Social Media's Top Secret: The ROI Of Top Of Mind

My personal failure in this category:

The opportunity to give this speech at Social Media Breakfast (to approximately 200 people) came directly after I was NOT accepted to give a presentation to another local organization. 

This local organization sent a representative to see me speak at Dream Bank in Madison, Wisconsin, and he deemed me not "good enough" to present to their group of approximately 35 people (for free). Expect to get both good AND bad news as you progress toward your personal branding goals.

action item


Develop your personal brand through writing for a publication

May 27, 2015

I sent a cold email to Kimberly Rice, the Editor of Marketing The Law Firm.

Marketing The Law Firm is a newsletter read by the marketing people at the largest law firms in the world, and my personal brand will grow if those readers knew who I am.

Did I ask to advertise in the newsletter to accomplish this? No. I offered to create content.

She replied and asked what I would like to write.

I said, "How about an article about ROI (Return on Investment) for Marketing Directors? I hear that question all the time, and could write about developing a simple formula."

She said, "Sounds great!" 

I said, "How about an infographic easily depicting the formula too?" 

She said, "Perfect."

Marketing The Law Firm cover story

And she put the article on the cover. After that, I was offered a regular column with them (three times per year), in which I can communicate with my target market...once again, for free.

Every publication in the world desperately needs more content, and you can speak to their audience for FREE if you produce it for them. I replicated the results from Marketing The Law Firm with NAPA Net from the American Retirement Association. I asked if I could help contribute content for their readers, and I now write for both their magazine and their website.

My personal failure in this category:

This opportunity to write for this national newsletter (Marketing The Law Firm) came a month after I was told I was "not needed" by a local magazine in the same industry. I didn't take "no" for an answer, and kept pursuing more opportunities to share my knowledge. You should too.

action item


Get this guide as a PDF with a step-by-step checklist

Do as much public speaking as you can to grow your personal brand

spencer x smith speaking at Bishops Bay Country Club

December 19, 2017

I finish my 76th (and last) speech of 2017. This one is to the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Estate Planning Council at 7:30am, 2 hours from my house.

4:00am wake-up time, 4 hour round-trip to speak, and I get paid a grand total Yep, $0.

Why in the world would you do that, Spence?

Here's why - of the 76 speeches in 2017, 35 were paid gigs, and the rest were free. The free gigs, however, earned me more paid speaking opportunities, more business for our company, and admission to conferences for which I would have paid thousands of dollars to attend.

The speeches that do pay are now a substantial portion of my business, but I continue to speak for free. Why? The opportunity.

Here's what's most important - when you're speaking, you're seen as an expert. After all, why would you be on-stage if you weren't? Experts get more business than non-experts.

Go where a need exists and make yourself valuable. The money will come.

action item


Take action today. Get this guide.

Download this article as a step-by-step PDF, complete with a checklist to get you started now. What will you accomplish in 2018 in building your personal brand? Don't wait.

Personal Branding Guide - Start now page

What questions do you have? How can I make this guide better for you? Please let me know in the comments below.