Building a business from scratch requires a thorough understanding of your company’s brand, mission, and differentiating factors. However, as the leader of a budding company, you’ll likely be asked to be in the public eye, speaking and writing on behalf of your company. Developing your own personal brand, in conjunction with your company’s, can be a catalyst for your company’s growth.
Whether you’re the head of a large corporation or managing your one-man show from your home office, developing a personal brand allows you to develop partnerships and spread the word about your business through new channels, whether by contributing content to websites or blogs, appearing as a podcast guest, or engaging with an audience via social media. The wider your reach, the more exposure you’ll gain to potential clients and partners, and the more you will begin to establish yourself as an expert on your industry as a whole.
Here are a few ways to ensure that you build a strong and productive personal brand.
The importance of staying true to your own style and beliefs can’t be stressed enough. Building a personal brand allows you to humanize your company and tell the story of how you came to lead it.
What drew you to start a business in this field? What are the passions that drive you?
When telling the story of you, drawing on your passions is key to communicating with an audience authentically. And without that authentic connection, they’ll likely tune out.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires a great deal of passion, so be sure that the passions you speak and write about relate directly back to your business. Your personal brand and company’s brand may vary slightly but should generally complement one another.
These days, we’re used to living in a state of information overload. We sort through a barrage of blogs, websites, news articles, social media, and advertisements all day long. So how do you stand out through the noise?
Developing a clear understanding of what makes you different from the other people in your space — whether it’s your leadership skills, your style or delivery, or your experience — is no easy task. Bringing in a branding expert to provide an objective take will help make sure that your messaging is clear and concise out of the gate. Once you’ve got it down, make sure to hit on that point as often as you can to help people quickly understand what makes you (and the company you lead) different.
Once the hard work of defining what sets you apart is done, refer back to it often and stay the course across all platforms. The messaging and visuals (headshots, website, etcetera) shouldn’t vary between your website and social media networks, for example. More important, your “voice” should carry across all of your content. Take every opportunity your audience gives you to share value as an opportunity to simultaneously reinforce your brand.
When building a personal brand, the ultimate goal is not just amassing a large number of followers. Rather, it’s about finding advocates for you and your company.
The term community often refers these days to social media followers, but it can (and should) extend to peers in the industry, partners, and customers. If your company relies heavily on referrals, building a community of loyal customers and partners and engaging with them often keeps you in the front of their minds as they speak to new potential customers.
When it comes to social media, it’s also a matter of quality over quantity. Having millions of followers means nothing if they aren’t clicking on, sharing, or engaging with the content you’re sharing. Low engagement often means that the content you’re sharing doesn’t provide enough value to them to engage with. Take care to make sure that what you share helps your community in some way.
Building a powerful personal brand with all of the above elements takes dedication. Well-known thought leaders develop their brands over years, even decades. There may be a few shortcuts but for the most part, it requires a serious commitment of thought, time, and resources.
Launching a new business is the fun part. But eventually the media coverage and buzz around your new venture will fade. Continuing to chip away at building a personal brand as a leader in your industry (especially in times when it feels like nothing is paying off) allows you to infuse added life into your company down the road.
Is the industry shifting? Did a major news event happen surrounding your industry? Being the go-to expert in your industry allows you to take advantage of future events to highlight your business again.
Building a personal brand is no easy feat, but it can have enormous benefits for your budding company. Go into it knowing you have a long road ahead of you and plan accordingly.
As the proverb goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.
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