Personal branding is how you present your unique combination of skills, achievements and expertise to others. Think of it as a way of ensuring that others view you in the way you want them to. Ideally, your personal brand sets you apart from competitors and highlights your strengths and areas of prowess. In addition to making you memorable as an individual, there are a plethora of upsides for small business owners and entrepreneurs in developing their own personal brands:
Branding builds credibility.
People want to do business with or invest in companies they know and trust. Possessing a strong personal brand will help boost credibility in your industry and among your target market. This gives you greater influence, which in bolsters your business’ online presence and bring you recognition as an industry expert.
Branding inspires trust among customers.
Personal branding demonstrates the distinctive promise and values that you offer. Delivering consistently in keeping with those values fosters trust from prospective customers. Over time, building trust will also prompt recommendations from your clients.
Branding provides a competitive edge.
Because it sets you apart from competitors, effective personal branding provides more opportunities for growing your business. Your brand can attract people to learn more about you, opt to do business with you, refer you to new clients, follow you on social media and invest in your company.
Branding leads to opportunities.
A strong personal brand opens doors to networking opportunities with industry thought leaders and potential partners. Initiating connections with experts or investors in your industry is more effective when you have a personal brand.
Branding improves recognition.
By investing the time and resources in branding yourself, over time you can build a strong network of followers and alliances. The more connections you make, the more likely you will be perceived as an authentic and influential leader in your industry.
How to develop your own brand.
Now that you’re convinced building a personal brand is worthwhile, the work begins. The process entails a commitment to the six-step plan outlined below:
1. Determine your target audience: Before building a personal brand, define how you want to be perceived and who you want to sell to or work with. After determining your niche, figure out who you want to connect with and assess the best ways to reach your target market. Identifying your intended audience will inform content that speaks to the right people and that has the potential to convert your audience into loyal customers.
2. Deliver a clear message: Once you know the type of client or customer you would like to work with, communicate your unique offerings to attract them. Create engaging content to draw their attention, and make sure it includes skills and certifications; awards and achievements; fields of interest; and the values you offer.
A few tips business owners should consider in their online communications:
- Create a company profile for each social media platform. Use a consistent profile picture and username to simplify search.
- Emphasize key traits in your professional profile. Highlight strengths that make you stand out.
- Use an email signature that’s unique to you. It should contain your contact information, signature, social media icons, company name and website.
3. Highlight your story: The sooner you define your target audience, the better you’ll understand the type of story you need to convey. Stories around your company’s journey and challenges it has faced, along with references to what you have learned, will get the most traction. Your messaging should also explain your company’s origin or the mission-driven approach behind it.
Ensure that your message and story are consistent across all platforms and that they clearly convey who you are and what you plan to achieve. Pitch company-related stories to journalists to get them published on platforms where your target audience tends to engage.
4. Build your platform: Keeping your message and information uniform across outlets makes it easier for people to find and follow you. You can build your platform by:
- Writing blog posts or contributing to others’ posts
- Creating social media posts
- Speaking at industry events
- Sharing the benefits of what you do or sell
- Keeping your social media accounts active
- Providing business news and updates
5. Increase your online visibility: Collaborating with other leaders in your industry and mentioning one another in social media posts can help increase your presence. Also take time to:
- Share information through webinars, interviews and podcasts popular in your industry.
- Be featured on others’ platforms and quoted in articles.
- Write articles and blogs for online magazines and your website.
- Speak at conferences attended by your peers and target audience.
6. Connect with your target audience: Keep working at expanding your network to build relationships with like-minded people. Cultivate a reputation as someone who cares and truly wants the best for their clients by:
- Making yourself available
- Sharing entrepreneurial experiences, content and advice on different platforms
- Providing solutions to common problems or insights into avoiding industry pitfalls
Branding tips for standing out from the pack:
Be consistent and persistent: Clients will start recognizing your brand once they encounter it several times. Regularly posting on social media, writing blogs or creating other types of content makes it easier for your audience to remember you. Use the same name, profile photo, logos and bio wherever you publish to keep your overall image and appearance consistent.
Be an expert in your field: People will begin to recognize you as one of the most knowledgeable, respected or skilled people in the industry when you demonstrate your expertise. Follow the practices of other leaders or successful people in your field. Stay on top of the latest trends and technologies in your industry to build credibility.
Be a networker: To grow your professional circle, connect with peers and industry thought leaders. Networking can provide you with unique insights into your industry and encourage others to communicate your value for you.
Be a brand authority: For effective brand positioning, offer insights to your audience and be open to answering their questions.